Maybe I’ve never worn a gi and maybe I’ve never rolled, but I am still passionate about mixed martial arts. What little I know of jiu-jitsu comes from my neighbor, Tim, who enjoys making his friends submit during UFC broadcasts. "You see that? You see how he did that? Here’s what just happened," he'll explain while mounting his buddies on living-room floors. It’s only kind of awkward. Really.
Although jiu-jitsu is the keystone discipline of MMA, it’s a niche spectator sport on its own. Positioning and patience may translate easily to an appreciative practitioner, but the sport's nuances pose a hurdle for inexperienced observers. I needed answers. That's why my friend Dylan and I headed to UCLA's Pauley Pavilion recently for the second Metamoris Pro Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Invitational.
What does "Metamoris" mean other than time-consuming Google tangents about Metta World Peace and “Meta” Morris Day? Even a cursory search of the event’s Twitter feed left me wondering if Metamoris was part of a rehabilitative speech program. But
Ralek Gracie, the event's founder, is certain of its origins, saying it's "inspired by one of my favorite books, The Song of Metamoris, a story about uniting the American Indian tribes to pursue a common goal.”
Applying a similar theme to the many schools of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Metamoris seeks to embrace the highest ideals of competition: unity and shared experience ... like the common bond forged when one fighter chokes out another. You might remember Ralek’s father, Rorion, as the mastermind behind 1993's original Ultimate Fighting Championship. You also might remember Ralek’s unassuming uncle, Royce, winning decisively at UFC 1, 2, and 4, putting Gracie jiu-jitsu at the forefront of mixed martial arts in America in the process. Rorion believed a superior fighting style could only be determined one way: with a format unencumbered by rules.
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is here to help you keep track of it all. You'll find takes on moments you might've missed from the previous night, along with ones you will remember forever.
netw3rk: Look at this lady in the front row, catching that holy ghost from Born Ready Lance Stephenson. This is what playoff basketball does to people. It causes folks with the means to drop five figures on front-row seats to react to corner 3s like their dog is being rescued from a well. It forces arena staff to have to come out onto the court and haul middle-aged white ladies to their feet as the aforementioned ladies jabber in the gibberish tongues of the ancient saints. Lance caught the ball in the corner with two seconds left and rainbowed it like he was trying to get a kite out of a tree, right in the face of a hard Dwyane Wade closeout. Cue the church organ.
There’s reckless abandon, and then there’s Lance Stephenson pulling down a rebound and fast-breaking like he’s running from an avalanche. Dude is just as likely to throw the ball into the stands after trying a 100 mph spin move on three defenders as he is to make a layup. But the Pacers played the sixth-slowest pace this season and desperately need a guy who can handle the ball while running like his child is about to crawl into an intersection. During last season's playoffs, Lance’s major contribution to the cause was his LeBron-targeted autoasphyxia mimicry. This year, in Pacers playoff wins Lance is averaging 12 points on 51 percent shooting from the floor, and 6.8 points on 25 percent shooting in losses. X factor, agent of chaos, loose cannon, whatever you want to call him; when Lance plays well, the Pacers win. Looks like all that time spent under the tawny wing of Larry Hoosier Legend learning how to be ready is paying off.
Plus he’s flopping now, too, so you know he’s thinking strategically.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Matt Carpenter, subbing for an injured Carlos Beltran, hit a two-run homer to lead the Cardinals to a 3-1 win over the Giants and a 2-1 lead in the NLCS. "Look, we're not saying for sure that Jesus is rooting for our team," said a statement released by Cardinals fans. "But how many times can you be led by a Carpenter before you start saying, OK, maybe something's happening here? Are we crazy? Are we being unreasonable? Or deep down, are the rest of you jealous that Jesus is a Cards fan? Be honest."
I never liked the idea of fighting for the sake of fighting. Other than my brothers’ hilarious brawls in the 1970s, it seemed wrong on many levels. So back in 1993, when some friends invited me over to watch the original Ultimate Fighting Championship, I remember worrying it would be barbaric. Barely any rules, a locked cage, and men trying to pummel each other? Unlike the scripted theater of wrestling pay-per-view events, there was no certainty of what might happen. The violence would be real. Teeth fragments, broken bones, joint dislocations, gallons of blood all possible. And unlike hockey, there would be no organist on hand to restore civility.
The night turned out to be a pleasant surprise: We enjoyed some beers and witnessed Royce Gracie (the smallest competitor) defeat the field by using a modified style of jiu-jitsu developed by his father, Helio. This was more than a glorified pay-per-view melee. We finally found a way to resolve hypothetical arguments about superior fighting styles, and maybe even challenge long-standing (and as it turned out, somewhat erroneous) presumptions about the importance of size and strength.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
The Arizona Wildcats are College World Series champions. Defensive replacement Brandon Dixon hit an RBI double in the ninth inning to break a 1-1 tie, spurring Arizona to a 4-1 win over South Carolina and a two-game sweep in the championship round. Unfortunately for Dixon, the League of Defensive Replacements determined that he was "getting above his station" in a secret meeting and revoked his membership. The vote was nearly unanimous, with only "Weakish" Walter Burrows, Bartholomew "Bad Eyes" Burrows, Timothy "Batless" Burrows, and Edward "Eczema Eddie" Burrows — the famous Burrows quadruplets — voting on Dixon's side.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
Kobe Bryant scored 27 points and Pau Gasol had a crucial block at the buzzer as the Lakers edged the Celtics in overtime, 88-87. I'm not saying Boston has had a rough sports week, but Bill Simmons is standing behind me as I write, tapping a baseball bat against his palm and asking weird questions like, "Would you consider yourself a happy person, Ryan?"
The reserves for the All-Star game were announced Thursday, and the list included veterans like Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, and Steve Nash. More like Old-Star game, am I right, gang? I mean, who picked these guys, Naismith himself? I hope they don't die from shock when they see that all the peach baskets have been replaced with nets, YAKNOW? (*Makes a series of wacky faces, curls up in a tight ball on the floor, cries softly, reaches for a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts*)