Last week, I talked about the guys who bore me to tears. After wondering what happened to my life this past Friday night, as I suffered through Strikeforce Challengers–instead of being out enjoying San Diego–I thought about adding six more names to the list. Since it’s Thanksgiving, I figured I would instead write about the guys who make me love MMA. These are just names that pop into my head, so feel free to email and rip me if I make a glaring omission. Anyways, here we go.
BJ PENN: I really am not sure that BJ would have been on this list a month ago, but after talking to him on Clinch Gear Radio, and watching him destroy Matt Hughes at UFC 123, he is the first name that comes to mind. Penn was one of the first fighters that I watched in my early days of being a UFC fan. The way he is amped at the start of the fight, looking like he is going to sprint across the cage is still one of my favorite things. Will he ever look as good as he did Saturday night? Who knows, but watching him hammer Hughes in that manner was awesome.
BROCK LESNAR: When friends that don’t follow the sport on a daily basis ask me about MMA, it’s amazing to me how Lesnar’s name always comes up. I think people (myself included) love the villain. It usually works better if the villain doesn’t get his ass kicked and verbally tap as Lesnar reportedly did against Cain Velasquez, but I still like the guy. I have covered a lot of big sporting events, but have never heard a reaction like the one for Lesnar in Anaheim. Here is hoping he is back in the picture soon.
THE DIAZ BROTHERS: Before you kill me for this selection, “The Fight Professor” Stephen Quadros agrees with this pick. Unless you are also a professor, I don’t want to hear it. There are a lot of fights being talked about for the New Year, but the one that has to be made is Nick Diaz vs. Jason “Mayhem” Miller. If Strikeforce passes on this fight, they are nuts.
I first saw Nick Diaz when he dropped Robbie Lawler in the UFC. I was also in Nashville when the brawl broke out in the cage with Nick Diaz right in the middle. I get it when people say “Make that fight, and you are now the WWE”. I may get it, but I couldn’t disagree more. Strikeforce needs a fight that people are buzzing about. With all respect to the fine fighters under the SF banner, no fight would generate the same kind of buzz of “Miller vs.Diaz.” I give credit for this to Diaz. Yes, Miller is known for his work on MTV, but Diaz is a throwback, and I think a lot of people like cheering for him and his brother Nate.
DAN HENDERSON: One of the best parts of this job is the chance to follow Dan through his training camps for his fights with Jake Shields and “Babalu”. I have to be honest, I didn’t know a lot about Dan until he was a guest on my radio show 3 years ago, but have become a huge fan in that time period. My wife and I had planned a trip to San Francisco for our Anniversary months in advance of July 11th 2009. I had no clue it would be the same weekend as UFC 100. I will never forget my phone going crazy after Dan knocked out Michael Bisping. I have dealt with a lot of athletes over the years that are very good guys, and Danny goes on that list.
There are plenty of other names that should be on this list, long time stars like Rich Franklin, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture. Young guys like Tyron Woodley and Tarec Saffiedine, Richie Whitson and Dominick Cruz could be on this list too, but these are the four guys that I thought of first. (Fedor can’t read English, right?)