Stop the Fight

September was an exceptional month for fight fans on several fronts. Besides the recurring battles of plucky contestants on The Contender and The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), Apostille NYC we were treated to praiseworthy performances televised by Pride, UFC, and boxing. The premiere fights on each card–Cro-Cop vs. Silva, Hughes vs. Penn, and Arce vs. Makepula–were noteworthy for the fighters’ inspiring display of expertise, as well as their sudden, breathtaking brutality. Each fight began as a battle of skill and will, but then ended all too soon. My objections to the premature endings of these fights were not based on principle, Fight Night Champion PC so much as aesthetics. I felt that in a perfect world, with perfect fights, each fight should have gone on longer. In reality, however, they could not continue. In other words, it would be great if B.J. Penn didn’t run out of gas, but B.J. Penn ran out of gas.

There comes a time in many fights when the arbitrator must intercede and say “enough”. The question asked by fan and referee alike is when do we say enough? It’s a question with multiple answers, and each of the above mentioned fights can serve as illustrations for those answers. Dubai Web Design Company

o The Eyes: Arce & Makepula

You have never heard of any of these people, because they are small men. Small-sized men, regardless of the size of their fight, are rarely televised, because people rarely tune in to such matches. It’s a shame; miniature men can scrap with a speed and grace often more pleasing to the eye than their bigger boned colleagues.

Jorge “Travieso” Arce is a 27-year-old Mexican boxer who began fighting at 110 pounds in 1996 (I was a skinny 110 pounds in the 7th grade). Flitting between the 108 and 112 pound divisions for a decade, Arce missed his first chance at greatness in 1999, when he got knocked out by future hall-of-famer Michael Carbajal in the 11th round of a fight that Arce had been winning. Since then, the hard-punching, crowd-pleasing Arce has won titles in the 108 and 112 divisions. He seeks a big money fight both to fill his pockets, and to garner the renown achieved by countrymen such as Marco Antonio Barrera and Julio Cesar Chavez. Regardless of whether or not he possesses the skill of his two pugilistic predecessors, Arce is unlikely to attain his goal of riches and fame. At his weight, there are no recognizable fighters for him to pursue. There are other skilled, exciting little men out there–Australia’s Darchinyan, Japan’s Tokuyama–but in order to become marketable, they, like Arce, will have to stop being so damn small. C8 Corvette
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Arce, obviously an ambitious sort, took a giant step toward being less small when he moved up to a tubby 115 for September’s fight. His foil was South African Masibulele “Hawk” Makepula, who also began his career at 110 in 1996. Makepula narrowly missed becoming a flyweight champion (112) in 2000, when he lost a controversial majority decision to Irene Pacheco, whom you’ve never heard of. Makepula has had more fights at 115 than Arce, but Arce is considered a heavier hitter. Even at this hefty weight, the two men were dwarfed by referee Vic Drakulich, whose upper torso and head eluded the camera’s eye when it focussed on the fighters. Drakulich looked like Tiny Ron, the giant lab tech in the Naked Gun series.

Makepula, a tough, graceful fighter with a decent punch, appeared to win the first two rounds. Arce, looking angry and caffeinated, was the pursuer. Makepula stepped smartly around the ring to create space for his quick, straight punches. When cornered by Arce, Makepula fought back with intelligently placed body punches that looked effective unless you were looking at Arce’s face, which continued to look angry and agitated. In the 3rd round, while hitting Arce, Makepula stuck around too long and was delivered a receipt at the hands of Travieso. Though he remained poker-faced while being hit by malicious combinations, Makepula’s eyes were slowly dissociating from the scene in front of him, like an old man daydreaming about better days. What was that girl’s name? Imelda? Velma? I remember…

It was an entertaining fight; it would have been an excellent fight if Makepula had taken a better punch, or been able to elude more punches, or if Arce’s punches had been a wee bit gentler. I wanted to see more, but it was not to be. Drakulich stooped down from his perch to stop the fight, with Makepula still on his feet, in the 4th round. Did he stop it too soon? No. How do I know? Hindsight… when the fight ended, Makepula did not protest. More importantly, how did Drakulich know when to stop the fight? It was in the eyes. The 3rd round remoteness of Makepula’s eyes, with the succor of Arce’s punches, transitioned into 4th round vacancy. When a man’s eyes are no longer attending to the business in front of him, at least in the ring, his business must be concluded without further ado.

o Defend Yourself at All Times: Hughes & Penn

Matt Hughes is almost famous for several reasons. (A) Exposure: As a coach on the 2nd season of TUF, he was regularly seen by a national television audience. He came off as being straight laced, hard working, and a little mean. He is currently the UFC welterweight champion (170 pounds). (B) Appearance: He’s a white fighter from the Midwest, which could make him a popular presidential candidate, or just a popular fighter. He’s also handsome in a high school jock sort of way. He ain’t Oscar De La Hoya, but he’s at the top of the wrestling gene pool. (C) Excitement: Hughes is a preternaturally strong, skilled fighter who enjoys kicking ass. That’s fun to watch.

His partner in September’s UFC dance was B.J. “The Prodigy” Penn, a jujitsu practitioner from Hawaii. Penn was a UFC lightweight champion prior to moving up to fight Hughes for the welterweight title in 2004. In an upset, Penn had choked out Hughes, winning the welterweight title, which he soon abandoned in a dispute with the UFC. Hughes rebounded to reclaim his belt in this welterweight division that he now dominates, while Penn has been fighting sporadically at various weights for K-1. Penn comes back to UFC to reclaim his belt; Hughes seeks revenge.

Hughes, a muscular, pale farm boy whose staid work ethic gave him a rigid appearance, stood across the octagon from Penn, a tanned surfer whose relatively un-muscled torso and cool demeanor spoke of spontaneity and rowdiness. Indeed, when Hughes, an expert wrestler, attempted to take Penn to the ground in the first round with a single leg takedown, Penn thwarted the move by hopping around casually on one leg. When they did go to the ground later in the round, Penn tied Hughes up in knots by contorting his legs in impossible positions around his opponent’s torso and neck. The second round concluded with Hughes narrowly escaping Penn’s triangle choke. It appeared as if Penn might possess the loose jujitsu style to defeat Hughes’ muscular wrestling.

As with Makepula, Penn’s skillful display of the first two rounds had established the promise of a great fight that would last long enough to have shifts in momentum and the exciting sensation of tension that accompanies such shifts. But the third round commenced with Hughes on his toes sticking a sharp jab in Penn’s face, while Penn unaccountably proffered nothing in return. Be it through overexertion on the triangle attempt or under-assertion in training, B.J. Penn was dead tired. Hughes took him to the ground and moved into side mount. He pinned Penn’s left arm under his legs, and constrained Penn’s right arm with his left hand, so that Penn’s noggin was prone directly beneath Hughes’ right hand, which naturally proceeded to level itself downward into Penn’s skull. Most men in Penn’s position would have attempted to seek liberation through a bridging motion, rotating their hips, or simply flopping around like a fish. Penn was a cool customer to the end, and too damned tired to protest, so he absorbed Hughes’ skull shots with a mere grimace.

 

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