YouTube CHANNEL of the Day: PROFESSOR THORGI & Why Marvel and DC Comics are not selling!

Stop by Professor Thorgi’s channel and check out his review of new series JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK. As someone who with rare exceptions no longer gets monthly comics from the major comic publishers, me being interesred in anything new from DC or MARVEL comics… is rare.

The excellent coverage YouTube channel Professor Thorgi provided today on series JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK has me interested.

I really want to rush out and buy this series from DC Comics, however… I will not.

DC has recently followed Marvel in pricing their comics at S4 a book. The cost of hiring Bendis perhaps. Whatever the reason, for me that translates into both companies charging more for new comics than they are worth. $4 cover price at a minimum, with many of the books being even more expensive at $5 and up. 

I can spend that money to buy bronze age back issues that will hold their value as opposed to new issues, that 99% of them will be in the surplus dollar bins in a couple months. WHY ON GOD’S EARTH WOULD YOU PAY $4 for A NEW COMIC , when you can get a classic fantastic four or kubert comic for the same price?

Our Army at War #254

Fantastic Four #104

Fantastic Four #133

Buy Back issues here:

https://www.mycomicshop.com?&AffID=200301P01

That pricing for new comic books is just pure greed, from two companies that are backed by billion dollar parent companies. Unlike smaller publishers, these companies have the infrastructure and scale to support bringing in these books at $2.50  or at least hold the line at $2.99.

I feel the companies inability to do so, and in the case of Marvel, unwillingness to do so comes down to greed, short sightedness, and mismanagement.They would rather try and price gouge the same aging customer base of about 70000 readers to buy multiple copies of overpriced issues, than price the issues at an attractive $2ish price point, to try to sell to millions rather than just thousands.

Contrary to the minority of loud but wrong right wing nuts, comic fan pretenders, screaming against creators and against diversity, as the failing of comics, comics are, in terms of creativity,  in a golden age.

Comics as someone who has been reading these books longer than most of the vocal minority have been alive, comics across the board have never been better in terms of writing, art, stories, creativity, diversity of genres, etc.(with minor exceptions such as Nick Spencer’s racist Nick Fury Jr idea. Really?? That is your idea? I don’t think so. :). Just have the Black Nick Fury be the black Nick Fury. Don’t hamstring him with some insulting, denigrating  and moronic story about him being the ‘son’ of the White Nick Fury. Just stupid and insulting on so many levels. An example of the movie division just being better and  smarter and less racist than the comic book division. And who would have thought that? 🙂 )

But that one caveat aside, the reason the comics are not selling is they are overpriced. Bottom line. And the big two publishers are over saturating the market to try to get their few readers to buy a lot, everything, to keep up.

Newsflash… people can not afford to get a lot, much less everything, especially at $4 a book.

So they choose, like I choose, to either severely limit their consumption or get nothing at all ( I get from DC only one $4 book, Christopher Priest’s DEATHSTROKE, and their few remaining $2.99 books.  However with DC poised to ruin the good work Priest has done on DEATHSTROKE, by putting the character in the JLA, hampering Priest’s ability to write for the comics unhindered, I see me dropping even that title. And according to the rumor mill the $2.99 books are going away. As far as Marvel, I  get nothing at all.)

The fact that Marvel is not legitimately selling millions of copies of Ta-na hesi Coates or Donny Cates or Al Ewing or Mark Waid or David Walker has nothing to do with those creators, those creators are doing their job;  but marketing and management and editorial mandates are failing these books.

I will definitely be reading Coates Captain America run, or the latest Moon Knight. But not monthly, Marvel and DC have taught me that they are not good or affordable publishers of periodical material and to rather wait for the collected edition and read it for free at the library, and the ones worth buying, to purchase in collected form, at a substantial discount over the individual issues. That is just smart shopping in this day and age, and for periodicals to not adjust their price point and marketing plan to make their product more attractive to an audience with a glut of choices and demands for their time… is to be bad at your job.

Marvel and DC’s periodical publishing arms… are bad at their jobs. People in charge of getting these numbers up and selling these books, should be given a deadline to turn things around and make improvements. And if they don’t  maybe what Marvel Upper Management needs is to sweep out the old under-performing and stagnant comic selling paradigm that has taken root at Marvel and DC and replace it with fresh faces, with fresh, innovative ideas for moving product, and winning readers. Do mail order subscriptions at a discount through Amazon, like Entertainment Weekly and other magazines do. Even selling the books as a loss leader, by increasing your subscriber base to millions rather than tens of thousands, you dramatically  increase what you can charge for ad space. But it takes change to make positive changes.

 

Now on the other hand, companies that are worth supporting in periodical form are ALTERNA, CHAPTER HOUSE, they provide inflation friendly comics, that allow you to pick up great books at a sub $3 price.

Also IMAGE, DARK HORSE, IDW, even though they are in the $3 and $4 range, they give you a lot more for your money than DC and Marvel do,  The smaller companies offer you a better periodical experience, they give you more pages, less ads, on better paper, and with additional content such as letters pages and special features.

All that creates a very simple take away for where and how I buy comics in the 21st century:

  • These days when I buy comics, I buy them via pre-order courtesy of MY COMIC SHOP. COM, at a sizable discount off of cover price. I am an affiliate for My Comic Shop, so when you use these links you earn a few pennies for this blog.
  • But the reason I am an affiliate, is because i use and love the service, so it becomes easy for me to hawk them. I have tried other mail order services, and have been pretty disappointed and felt pretty ripped off by them.
  • My experience with MCS has really kept me from quitting the hobby all together. They have been that good for me, and you may find them similarly for you, an easy on-road to a medium, comics, that seemingly has more off-roads.
  • They let you read synopsis of the many, many companies out there.
  • And I get these great books mailed directly to me in great condition.
  • And generally speaking…  I am not buying Marvel and DC. And I have to tell you my reading experience has never been better, and my wallet thanks me.

Use the link below, and your wallet can start thanking you as well:

https://www.mycomicshop.com/subscriptionservice?&AffID=200301P01

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Thursday’s Thoughts! Vol 1 Issue 2 – Boxing – Wilder vs Joshua?!! WHEN???

“Heart jim, Heart! The whole world’s crying out for a little bit of heart!”

— DETECTIVE STORY

RECOMMENDED DVD/BLU-RAY PURCHASE OF THE DAY

 

DETECTIVE STORY (1951) – See my full review of DETECTIVE STORY in the last installment of Thursday’s Thoughts.

Okay so what is obsessing me this Thursday?

I am catching up with the 4th season of the blade making/competition show, FORGED IN FIRE courtesy of streaming service HULU. Other shows being POWER, AMERICAN PICKERS,

I am finishing up the 6th and last season of the surprisingly good TEEN WOLF series courtesy of AMAZON PRIME. The 6th season is a bit of a misstep, especially the last half, it feels like the writing was definitely on just ‘crank something out mode’, but a weak 1st season and a weak last season aside, it is still must own tv for seasons 2 thru 5.

Definitely along with FARGO season 2, LUKE CAGE season 1, and LEGION season 1, Blu-ray worthy.

Other show on my EXTENSIVE Amazon Prime watch list is THE AMERICANS, BAD LANDS, JACK RYAN, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE to name a few.

 

What I’m Listening to:

I’m now on the fourth audio book of the 8 book men’s adventure series from the 1970s BLACK SAMURAI. Titled PEARL this 4th entry of the series the stakes are a little more street level, but no less dire. Robert Sands, the Black Samurai, instead of averting the revenge massacre of an American town, or stopping the utilization of mass murders and global conflict to increase stock prices, or a terrorist nuclear detonation in America; must this time out save one young girl from prostitution.

Unfortunately his opposition is no less deranged, and the collateral damage… runs just as red. About 11 chapters in and simply stupendous writing. Kevin Kennerly has quickly risen into my rankings of best audio book performers.

If you have not picked up all eight MP3 Audio books on Amazon Prime, now is the time to do so. Previous experience informs that they will not be in stock long.

I pop the cd in on my way to and from work, yes I insist on having a CD player in my car 🙂 and the audio book is SO FRIGGING GOOD! Each book is a writer, the late, great Marc Olden just at the height of his gifts. As a fan of all these men’s adventure books of the 70s, from BOND, to NICK CARTER, to THD EXECUTIONER MAC BOLAN to REMO WILLIAMS THE DESTROYER, Olden’s BLACK SAMURAI is the best of the best.

 

What I’m watching:

Youtube.

I am watching a lot of great Youtube channels. I watch, via Roku, Youtube on my big screen. The Youtube shows are overall more interesting than regular TV.

This week I have in addition to my plethora of comic book shows, gotten on a boxing kick.

The heavy-weight division, after a period of stagnation in the Klitschko years, now has some really exciting champions and contenders and matchups. First and foremost you have two true undisputed champions, Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua.

Anthony Joshua holds the WBO,IBF, AND WBA belts. Deontay Wilder holds the WBC belt.

Both of these fighters are in the mold of Super Heavyweights, the first such Super-Heavyweight being George Forman back in the 1960s. Being well over 6 feet, and over 200 Lbs, Foreman dwarfed his heavy weight competition of the day. And only the brilliance that was Ali was able to figure out how to beat, the unbeatable George Foreman, a man who had not only height and weight but true boxing skill.

Foreman’s return to the heavy weight circuit in the 90s, in a boxing scene absent of an Ali to oppose him, saw the elder Stateman shake the world becoming decades after his expected prime, the undisputed heavy weight champion of the world… and set the mold for the champion of the future.

Someone 6’4 or above and 250lbs. That today has become the average size of the heavyweight division. Which effectively redefines the heavyweight division as a super-heavy weight division.

And redefines what has historically been the heavy weight division, as the cruiser weight division.

The domino effect of this skewing of traditional division definitions, is people who would perform far better and more competitively in the cruiserweight division, are bulking up to pursue the historic prestige of the heavy weight division. Not realizing the heavy weight champions of the 20th century would now all be cruiserweights, not heavyweights.

This new boom of super heavyweights in the heavyweight division, is part of the stagnation of the last few years. Talented fighters are putting on weight beyond their frame to compete with these new super heavyweights, to their detriment. And the detriment of the sport.

A lot of these boxers would be stunning at cruiser weight, but ‘cruiserweight champion of the world’ does not garner the respect or interest, as having the title heavyweight champion. That is why no one even knows who the cruiser weight champions are. I looked them up for this article, never heard of any of them.

There are two ways to solve this,

1/ either create a superheavy weight division, say avyone above 225lbs. And that keeps traditional heavyweights from being outmatched by someone substantially heavier than them, with a greater reach. This is perhaps the most satisfying way, in that it allows for another Jack Johnson, or Joe Louis, or Rocky Marciano to in the future become the heavy weight champion, to keep it not too far out of the scope of a regular guy. And the supersized anomalies such as Klitschko, Fury, Joshua etc, get moved to the Super Heavy Weight division. or..

2/The 2nd way would be to redefine the cruiserweight division as the most prestigious weight division. But that would likely be a hard sell as the history of what is considered the best in boxing is that heavyweight division.

So the 1st option is the one that offers the most competitive heavyweight division.

Currently in 2018 we are very blessed to have a few talented 6’6 heavy weights to compete against each other rather than just outjabbing what amounts to overweight cruserweights, but that beneficial status quo won’t last. And then we will be back to a stagnant heavyweright scene.

For the good of boxing we need to create a super heavy weight division, and that will allow exciting matches at the heavy weight division to flourish.

And right now there is one ‘fight of the decade’ match at the ‘Heavyweight’ division, as well as a couple competitive matches.

That fight of the decade is between of course Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua. Both 6’6 , both knockout artists, both undefeated, and both very exciting fighters. Though clearly Deontay Wilder is the more exciting fighter both inside and outside the ring. Quite clearly Joshua’s people are running scared, knowing in a fight with Deontay, the odds favor that Wilder is either going to knock out Joshua and unify the division: and even a grueling battle that ekes out a decision in favor of their champion, will just excelerate what Deontay likes to call ‘a fighter’s expiration date’.

Now I say the odds are good Wilder knocks out Joshua, cause that is where my gut points. But quite frankly they are both proven champions, it can go either way. That is why it would be a great fight, they are both deserving of respect. The only one who seemingly doesn’t know this is Tyson Fury. Tyson Fury also is deserving of respect, but he has been out of the game for three years, and arguably the Klitschko he beat was a shadow of the one that Joshua fought.

So having not had a fight in 3 years he is trying to talk himself into a title (spelt ‘money’) match. That is not how it is done. You have to prove you still have it and are deserving of fighting a champion before anyone is interested in seeing you fight a champion. Both Joshua and Wilder would earn nothing by beating him. He has to earn that contender status again, just like any other fighter. So it is good that he is fighting again, with a 2nd fight slated for August. Though as long as there is a Joshua/Wilder fight on the possible horizon, he might as well consign himself to waiting in line.

Why?

Well, This is part of the problem with this misnamed super-heavy weight division. Outside of fighting over weight cruiser weights there aren’t really a lot of competitive fights for 6’6 250 lb guys who can really box. So Joshua’s people have their hands full trying to duck The couple serious super-heavy weight fighters out there. I think Joshua beats handily a crafty Tyson Fury, but he risks ending his knockout streak, and worse… an injury, which is always a possibility with any fight, and losing out on the real money fight… Deontay Wilder.

The only fight anyone wants to see in the heavyweight/superheavy weight division is Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua. So Joshua people, stop cherry picking fighters and make it happen.

***********

Ok I did not think I would do that much talking about Boxing. What can I say, after decades of stagnation, there are some really competitive fights out there.

And Boxing, for reasons I stated elsewhere, I like as a spectator sport, far more than MMA.

That is it for this installment.

Leave a comment or like if you enjoy this THURSDAY’S THOUGHTS!!!

 

 

 

2018 : The resurgence of BOXING Interest in the US!

The last couple years have shown a real resurgence in mainstream US interest in Boxing.

 

Now that Interest has never waned abroad, and is arguably stronger than it has ever been everywhere from England to Russia, but only in the States that for most of the 20th century was the heart and head and seat of professional Boxing (The home of Boxing’s greatest champions From Jack Johnson to Evander Holyfield), has Boxing been shuffled off the main stage, into all but minor league obscurity.

And while MMA is undoubtably big these days, it is not Boxing. And it is not better than Boxing, it exercises different interests, the way Soccer differs from Football. They both have their strengths.

For my money while MMA has its strengths, and I am glad for its growth, that growth should not come at the expense of Boxing. Anymore than the growth in Rugby should mean we stop giving airtime to Football.

While I like MMA as a discipline and there have been many great matches, the standup game of Boxing and that specification of strikes, and limitation of styles, lends itself to truly epic engagements deserving of apellations such as fight of the year, far more often and regularly than MMA.

 

Boxing due to its length and its style lends itself to being… more than a sprint, when you have two great fighters and styles in the boxing ring, you get these epic engagements of will that allows you to see a fighter’s chin tested and his endurance tested in a way that the sprint, submission style of MMA, rarely lends itself to.

Again there are many great fighters and matches in the past and present of MMA, from the domination years of Royce Gracie to the domination years of Sakuraba to the domination years of Anderson Silva to the current domination years of fantastic fighters such as Jon Jones (currently the best UFC fighter and a personal favorite, who I like to introduce, whenever I see him fight, in my best Boxing Announcer voice as… ‘JON JONES…… THE MARTIAN MANHUNTER!!!!! You have to be a comic book fan to get the reference, but I think that is way better than the idiotic nickname of ‘BONES’ that they give him) and such phenoms as Buakaw (if you do not know that name, go searching for any of his over 200 professional fights. Yes I said over 200 fights!!!!! He is the stuff of legend.); but these exceptions aside, as a whole Boxing’s stand up style lends itself to far more interesting engagements.

 

I recently watched (on the big screen TV, I don’t watch video on a phone or tablet or laptop. If I am going to take the time to watch something, I want to watch it as close to its intended scale as possible. Only then can you get close to adequately consuming, or reviewing and forming and intelligent opinion on the content consumed.  David Lean’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA  seen in 70mm on a full size movie theater, which I have done, is a completely richer experience than watching it on someone’s LCD monitor. How you consume content, is part and parcel of the experience), courtesy of the Youtube App on my Roku device, a bevy of classic 70s and 80s Boxing matches, with men who fought true wars in the ring.

 

Of course Ali, Frazier, Norton, George Foreman (people remember Foreman for his later post Ali years as Champion and beloved funny guy and elder statesman of boxing, but during his first life, as a boxer, that went from 1969 to 1977, this guy… in a heavyweight scene full of fearsome men, was the most feared man on the entire planet.

He was a young, gigantic, brutal,and undefeatable force of nature breaking everything in his path. Ivan Drago’s character in Rocky 4, the character played by Dolph Lundgren (‘I will break you.’) that was George Foreman in the late 60s early 70s. An unbeatable force of nature, till a man called Ali found a way to beat him.)

 

And similar, stuff of legend wars… were fought in the lighter divisions by men with names like Tommy the Hitman Hearnes, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Roberto the man with the hands of Stone Duran, And Sugar Ray Leonard.

I watched the 1st Duran Hearnes fight, then I watched the Hearnes Sugar Ray fight, and its eight year later sequel.

Here is the thing people forget about Hearnes, he much like George Foreman, because of his height and frame and reach… was something new in boxing for his weight class. A kid, like they all were back then, coming out of Detroit he cut through the middlewight division like a knife, earning the name of Hitman by knocking out everyone he faced. An undefeated champion, he and Sugar Ray Leonard, also a champion, would meet in September 1981 for a winner take all unification match.

It was called the showdown and lived up to its billing. Being a 15 round war and one of the greatest fights of that year or any year.

I take this trip down memory lane to say that… what is great about Boxing, can not be replaced or usurped by MMA. There is a uniqueness to Boxing, that makes it, when you get a talented crop of Boxers, the stuff of legend.

I think after 20 years of neglect, and corruption (something that the UFC seems to be dealing with, as well as K1. The japanese PRIDE was the best thing to happen to MMA, and since its effective buyout and dissolution, we have an increasingly suspect, in terms of management, UFC). 

you now have a very exciting Boxing landscape starting to form, particularly at the lower weight classes. Terrence Crawford and Errol Spence being two of the most exciting fighters to come along in decades. And suddenly you begin to see this return of interest and money to the boxing landscape, that I for one am looking forward to.

For more on Boxing, go listen to two recent, pretty darn excellent John Siuntres WORD BALLOON podcasts, that veer from comic books to boxing, in interviews with two great names in the Boxing coverage landscape.

 

http://www.wordballoon.com/

http://percolate.blogtalkradio.com/offsiteplayer?hostId=1113527&episodeId=10850405#

http://percolate.blogtalkradio.com/offsiteplayer?hostId=1113527&episodeId=10858419#

Completely riveting interviews, and after listening, you, like I, will be searching Youtube for great Boxers past and present and future.

Thanks for checking out this post, and if you enjoy please leave a like, or comment. And feel free to recommend your 5 favorite recent boxing and or mma matches or websites.

To get you started here are my recommendations of must watch Youtube boxing/mma videos:

I love watching Thomas Hearnes fight. He had a fantastic jab, a great left hook attack to the body and head, and one of the best, most devastating, right hands in Boxing history. Which makes the following clip, all the more amazing. And why Sugar Ray Leonard, like his idol Muhammad Ali, is the greatest of all time. Because he fought unbeatable men… and found a way to beat them.

And if that is the past of Boxing, here is the present and future: 2018 is the year America remembers what the world has never forgotten, that the boxing ring is the place where the last legends of the world…. are made.

And for more on how to stay ontop the changing world of Boxing, I recommend the following two sites (that both offer subscriptions to their magazines):

http://www.ringtv.com

http://www.ringsideseatmag.com

Netflix Streaming and Amazon Bluray Movie of the Day : WAY OF THE DRAGON

the-way-of-the-dragon-movie-poster-bruce-lee-chuck-norris


WAY OF THE DRAGON is arguably Bruce Lee’s best film, in that it was the film he had the most control over; wearing hat of writer, director, and star. A circumstance which is not always a good thing, actors not always being the best gauge of their own interests or image. However Bruce Lee from the start was more than an actor, he was the message not merely the messenger, and as such was uniquely suited to define himself for others; and he does that expertly in this film.

The opening of WAY OF THE DRAGON (also sometimes referred to as RETURN OF THE DRAGON, confusing in that this came before ENTER THE DRAGON, not after) is pure Charlie Chaplin, Lee showing his penchant for physical comedy, and his pure charisma. And seeing Bruce Lee against the backdrop of the West that he always found both tantalizing and duplicitous, is a joy.

What surprises, revisiting this film after some absence, is how young he is.

You forget that these icons like Hendricks, and Ali, and Bruce Lee that shaped so much of the American consciousness and whose shadows continue to dominate so much of what we consider best of our cultural zeitgeist and worth aspiring to, at the height of their power… were basically just kids who believed the world could be changed… and changed it.

Is WAY OF THE DRAGON the greatest martial arts movie of all time? Probably not, but it is a great movie, and watching a Bruce Lee untouched by age or death, with his whole life ahead of him, in a sumptuously photographed, and largely fun film, is a little like visiting one last time… with a good friend.

There is something bitter and sweet about it.

And the final fight with Chuck Norris is justifiably classic. And like the film itself it is more in the nuances around the fight, the essential touches Lee brought to it, the philosophy of Chinese Boxing, the stretching, the inter-cutting of the kitten, all deliver something more than the spectacle of violence, but a way through violence… to find some peace on the other side of it.

A film that not just every Martial Arts fan should have in their collection, but a film any fan of cinema should proudly have on their curio shelf, as the work of 1970s art that it is.

And also the Blu-Ray is a must have for the audio commentaries, documentaries and pristine picture.

I like streaming for the chance to be exposed to a wealth of movies, but quality (when it is coming from a middle man such as a streaming or cable service) is always subject to bandwidth and signal concerns of the moment. The Bluray, failing damage, will give you the best picture in all moments… consistently.

So for movies like WAY OF THE DRAGON, that you intend to come back to again and again… Blu-Ray is the way to go.

Here’s the link:

The Bruce Lee Premiere Collection (The Big Boss / Fist of Fury / The Way of the Dragon / Game of Death) [Blu-ray]

Highly Recommended! And if a fan of this film I would direct you to the 1970s comic book series it inspired, Marvel Comic’s MASTER OF KUNG FU. Specifically issues 38 and 39 that form an excellent and not to be missed two part story, that any fan of Bruce Lee should check out.

Links here:

Master of Kung Fu, Edition# 38

Master of Kung Fu (1974, 1st series) #38

Master of Kung Fu (1974, 1st series) #39

And a book covering the career of one of the influential artists of the 70s and Bruce Lee fan, Paul Gulacy:

Spies, Vixens and Masters of Kung Fu PB

If you like this blog, and specifically this post, show your support by using the links above. You get great items, and this blog gets a few pennies. A win all the way around. 🙂 Thanks for looking and till next time… make someone smile today.


If, like me, you’ve been interested on Chuck Norris’ take on Bruce Lee well here’s a Norris quote about meeting Lee in New York in 1965, when Lee was working on the GREEN HORNET series. The quote is courtesy of the site BRUCE LEE DAILY:

“I said that I was really tired and that I should get to the hotel because I had an early flight the next day at nine o’clock. Bruce said he was staying at the same hotel so we decided to go over together. So we were taking a cab to the hotel, and now we are really getting involved in our conversation. We get to the hotel and are going up in the lift to the floor that Bruce’s room is on.

We both step out into the hallway – it was about twelve o’clock by now – the next thing I know I’ve got my jacket off and we are working out in the hallway.

I swear to you that the next time I looked at my watch it was seven o’clock the next morning. I looked at my watch again, I could not believe it, I had a flight in two hours back to Los Angeles and Bruce said that when we got back we should work out together, which we did for three years.

Then Bruce left for Hong Kong to pursue his movie career. I didn’t hear anything from him for about two years, then one day I got a call from Hong Kong; it was Bruce, he said: “I’ve just finished two movies over here, they were really successful”. He said he wanted to do a fight scene that everyone would remember and he said I want you to be my opponent and he was going to call the film Way of the Dragon.”

Read the full article Here!

Kazushi Sakuraba MMA Royce Gracie Japan’s Folly and National Treasures


It’s damn near inscrutable, the things that go through my mind.

And the odd, out of the blue things that will take stage center in my attention.

In a very busy, holocaust strewn news day, a conversation with co-workers gets me thinking about mixed martial arts. We talked about some local schools, one that teaches Jujitsu among other disciplines, and has to its credit a Gracie as a teacher. And discussing Gracies always gets me onto the topic of Sakuraba, The Gracie Hunter.

Sakuraba is not a name known in the UFC dominated Americas, but for those who let their exposure to MMA extend beyond the borders of the US, Sakuraba a few years ago, fighting almost exclusively in the Japanese PRIDE fighting league, was one of the most celebrated names in Mixed Martial Arts.

Depending who you ask… he still is.

He gained world-wide acclaim for his defeat of living legend Royce Gracie. And he didn’t just beat Royce Gracie, a man who for a long time WAS not just the most domineering and feared fighter in mixed martial arts, but arguably was Mixed Martial Arts… Sakuraba destroyed Royce Gracie. It’s not putting too fine a point on it to say he humiliated Royce Gracie, walked through him like he wasn’t there.

All these years later and the fight is still in rotation throughout the Internet. This led to what amounts to a family fued, with Gracies lining up to avenge Royce’s defeat. Sakuraba, stoic and game, took on all comers.

4 Gracie fights. 4 Gracie victories. (Though recently Royce in 2007 came back to avenge his defeat)

In a field of walking monsters, of engines of destruction, it’s hard to explain what makes Sakuraba special, what makes him stand out if you haven’t seen those early fights. He was clearly not the biggest, not the strongest, perhaps not the fastest, definitely not the most brutal or the most intimidating, but this ex-performance wrestler, what he had… was an all around skill unlike anything anyone else had brought to the table, he was technically the most exciting and skilled fighter I had ever seen, he could beat you standing up, or on the ground, and his heart— his heart was the stuff they make movies about. They write ballads about.

And there was something amazingly likeable about him. He got in the ring, this stoic but seemingly affable enigma, and he beat you in a chess game of moves, of holds, of submissions, of punches, and you knew, the way people who saw Jack Johnson, or Joe Lewis or Sugar Ray Robinson or Hagler or Hearnes or Ali or Foreman or Holifield… you knew, you were seeing something pure, violence distilled into something not far removed from… art.

Some odd mating of the technical wizardry of a Roy Jones, with the heart of a Roberto Duran.

Yeah years ago when I discovered Sakuraba, he quickly enshrined himself for me, as what this always questionable sport of MMA could be about, at its best. Not cracking people skulls open, or pit bull brutality, but technical wizardry, and sportsmanship. I think that’s what came across in the fights of Sakuraba, yeah this was a tough guy, but he walked into the ring, with respect, both giving it and getting it, not like an animal, but like a man.

But even then, I could see, he was taking too many hits. And just as the sport outgrew Royce Gracie, grew better, tougher meaner, by his example, Sakuraba’s popularity brought an ever more devastating class of opponent to his door. Men often weight classes heavier than him, and men increasingly younger, stronger, and more brutal than him.

Life being what it is I tuned out of the mixed martial arts scene for the last few years, but often I would think of the wizardry of the man called Sakuraba. My discussion with my coworkers piquing my interest enough to do an internet search of recent Sakuraba news.

I came across ever more recent fights. And what I saw…increasingly sickened me.

I’m not one overly given to sentimentality. Well maybe I am. God knows someone needs to be these days.

But I think the most important thing for a fighter is to have someone who cares about him in his corner, someone he can trust with his life. Because ultimately a fighter’s manager, should be there to preserve the well being of his fighter, to defend him, when he is no longer capable of defending himself.

Sakuraba obviously has no such person in his corner.

I watched a recent fight with Sakuraba, a Japanese PRIDE fight, where the Gracie Hunter, this poet of the ring, where he was literally kneed in the head over twenty times, until his skull cracked.

—-

Yes, I said until his skull cracked.

And the referee, just let it go on. And his corner-men just let it go on, and the crowd just— let it go on.

And Sakuraba, he could have yielded, he could have surrendered, but because he is Sakuraba, he to his detriment does not know how to yield. That is why he is the stuff of legend, and that is why I fear for him continuing to fight. He will endure, everything you throw at him even onto his death… he will endure.

And he, has nothing left to prove. He shouldn’t have to. But he is a warrior, he will not yield, that’s why it’s important for the referee and his corner to be there to keep a competition from escalating into a bloodbath.

And increasingly at Sakuraba’s fights… they’re not doing their job.

And it’s enough to make one both sick and mad.

A lot of people talk about the rules of UFC and how it’s weak compared to PRIDE, and I was one of them. But Let me tell you something, thank god for the rules of the UFC. Because what I witnessed happening to Sakuraba is not a sport, it’s a travesty. It’s putting pit bulls in a ring until one dies. The referee should be admonished at the least, and more likely fired and charges laid against him. Sakuraba’ cornermen, his manager and friends, should be ashamed of themselves for allowing the butchery to continue. Obviously with the first couple of blows, the fight, the contest is over, stop the damn fight.

I mean Sakuraba was, is a fucking national Japanese Treasure, and they let him increasingly get nearly murdered in the ring, for no good reason. The contest was over long before the 2nd knee landed, and I’ll tell you something about a knee to the head, it doesn’t take a fighter to hurt you with a knee or an elbow to the head, just about anybody’s knee or elbow will do the job, so when you have a 200lb, trained fighter, whose knees and elbows can break stones, you don’t want anybody getting hit more than once or twice by such a fucker if you can help it. Cause the only possible outcome of such abuse is brain damage or murder.

Sakuraba is older than me, and I’m older than Methuselah. And seriously there’s no way he cannot have brain damage, with the abuse he has taken. Someone, his manager, his friends, the Japanese fight board really needs to tell him, “you know what, you’re the greatest, but… in the ring is not the place for you any longer. You’re not as fast as you were, and you’re getting tagged too much”.

So here’s hoping the karma of this message gets out there, and maybe infects people, who infect people, who infect people, and it gets back to Sakuraba’s people that… “hey… you did us proud warrior… now time to rest”.

At least I hope so.

Because for Sakuraba to die in the ring is a waste of a great warrior who would be better served training a new generation of Sakurabas.

Here endeth my rant.