The Good Girl’s Guide to MMA

Now, I don’t want to drop names or anything, especially since I doubt a single one of my readers has any idea who these people are, but Rob and I have trained with the two dudes who battled it out for San Jose on Saturday night.

Here I am with Cung Le, who broke Frank Shamrock’s arm and took his title.

I kept thinking of this picture on Saturday night as I wondered to myself who I was really rooting for. Except I was thinking Cung had his eyes open, as he does in the following picture with Rob.

These were taken in 2004, after Le put participants in the Martial Arts Super Show through a grueling conditioning workout. That was back in the day when I’d actually participate in such a thing. Now, when Rob has his students jog laps around the studio…I find something else to do, like tie my hair in a ponytail, or drink some water.

Here Rob is with Frank. Rob has trained with Frank a number of times. Rob was pretty clearly rooting for him.

I haven’t actually trained with Frank, per se, but I’ve talked to him a few times and he’s a good guy. In some of his recent matches, he’s put on kind of an arrogant persona, but I think a lot of that’s for show. I respect him as a fighter.

Which is sort of a weird thing for me to say, cus I’m a girl and I’m not really into the “ground and pound” that characterizes MMA. (Mixed Martial Arts. The polite name for “Cage fighting.” The generic term for UFC.)

When I watch a fight, I like to see punches or kicks land. (in Thailand, where it’s legal, I’m also a huge fan of elbows. Ladies, take note. Your legs may be your strongest weapon, but in a self-defense situation, you’re taking a risk when you lift a foot off the ground. I’ve seen elbows cut faces open. Use them.) On the ground, it’s cool to watch the fighters search for and apply a submission hold. When this happens, the submitted guy is supposed to tap out.

What I don’t care for is when a fight goes to the ground, and the person on top really wails on his opponent, raining punches down until the ref decides that the bloody pulp is no longer defending himself and calls the match. Basically, I don’t like to see people get hurt.

This brings me to Shamrock v. Le. While Le is new to MMA, I’ve seen him in stand-up fights (as opposed to those that go to the ground) and his kicks are breathtakingly powerful and fast. He’s undefeated in “combat sports.” So, who could beat him?

Perhaps Frank Shamrock. On a different night. As Le graciously said after winning Saturday night, Shamrock is the “greatest fighter. This was just my night.”

But to watch them trade blows for three rounds…Here are two fighters in top physical condition. They’ve trained for this and they’re evenly matched. Each has a different strength. Frank in submissions, Cung in kicks. Not that Frank’s punches aren’t fearsome. Just before the kick that broke his forearm, he moved in on Cung with some strong blows. I said, “Here comes the monster,” thinking the fight had turned and Frank might even knock Cung out.

After the bell rang, though, Frank couldn’t continue and the fight was called for Cung. Cung accepted victory with a bloody lip and Frank winced with his arm in a sling as he congratulated Cung.

The best thing about the fight, to me, was that the two of them clearly enjoyed it. I don’t think Frank woke up the next morning thinking, “Why? Why? I can’t believe I lost.” I don’t think he feels sorry for himself for having a broken arm. He wanted and sought after the challenge. If he wanted a sure win, he would have taken Le to the ground and submitted him.

And I don’t think Cung thinks to himself, “Ha, I can beat Frank Shamrock with both arms tied behind my back.” These two will fight again, and maybe Frank will win next time.