This past weekend, the UFC did the mixed martial arts fans around the world a huge favor and treated them to two extremely entertaining fight cards in one day.
On Saturday, August 23, 2014 the UFC took over your combat entertainment needs with UFC fight night 48 in Macau, China and UFC fight night 49 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Both cards, stacked with relatively unfamiliar names to average fight fans, ended up being above average shows with enough knock outs to quench Chuck Liddell’s thirst for a comeback.
What may have been more intriguing then the KO’s is the distractions that some of these top tier fighters were dealing with leading up to their bouts and how they took these distractions and made them motivators.
Let’s take a look at what I’m talking about here.
At UFC fight night 49, Jordan Mein was set to face off with UFC veteran Mike Pyle in the co-main of the night, less than 24 hours after Mein’s father (James Mein) was arrested at the UFC weigh in’s, on sexual assault charges.
Having someone who is in your corner being arrested as you try to mentally prepare yourself for battle must be tough, but it must be exponentially harder if that person is someone your as close to as Jordan is with his father.
Where some may have crumbled under that kind of pressure, Mein excelled, needing only 72 seconds to pound Pyle into the ground, securing a first round TKO victory, putting his MMA record at 29-9 (3-1 in the UFC).
Across the pond in Macau, China at UFC fight night 48, Michael “The Count” Bisping was set to do battle with Cung Le in the main event of the evening.
Bisping is one of UFC’s most polarizing figures. He is The Ultimate Fighter season 3 winner, has been in title contention talk since the day he arrived and he manages to ruffle more feathers than a cockfight.
One of those ruffled by Bisping is fifth ranked middleweight, Luke Rockhold.
Rockhold has been calling out Bisping every chance he can get using twitter as his weapon of choice.
This may not seem like much of a distraction when taken for face value, I mean fighters talk trash all the time. But if you add in Rockhold’s ranking in the division, three spots above Bisping, and this possibly being Bisping’s last run at a title, then Bisping should know that beating Le can get him a fight with Rockhold, who could be the key to a title shot.
Still with me? Good.
So with all the talk from Rockhold and all the pressure on Bisping to stay relevant, Bisping put on MMA clinic, it was an art show for four rounds using Cung Le’s face as the canvas.
The result wasn’t pretty for Le but for Bisping the stars couldn’t have aligned any straighter.
Bisping exited the fight relatively unscathed and with Rockhold barking in the wings for a fight with The Count, both men could be getting exactly what they asked for.
Possibly the biggest distraction of the night was in the back of the mind of UFC fight night 48 co-main eventer, Tyron Woodley, who was set to face Dong Hyun Kim, while his hometown of Ferguson, Missouri was still reeling over the death of black youth, Michael Brown.
While Woodley was having his hands wrapped getting ready for battle, Ferguson residents were protesting in the streets, looting stores and being met by police officers in riot gear and canisters of tear gas.
Woodley’s coach banned him from using social media because of all the distractions but even Woodley admitted what was happening in his hometown was affecting him.
“It’s kind of a distraction,” Woodley told FOX sports. “No more Facebook, no more reading things and watching these videos about Ferguson. These things are all happening about two minutes from where I live.”
I would assume this kind of distraction would be too much to overcome but not for Tyron Woodley, who with a heavy heart, went out and man handled Kim, needing only 61 seconds to beat the Korean born fighter.
Woodley cemented himself at the top of the division with a big win, in impressive fashion, on the other side of the planet, but maybe more importantly he provided a beacon of light for the people of Ferguson, Missouri during this dark time.
Mien, Bisping and Woodley all proved on Saturday that nothing can get in the way of a driven fighter and showed the world how distractions can become motivating factors.