Before I saw Fedor Emelianenko fight, I thought mixed martial arts was a debased and debauched distraction for frat boys and thugs, more evidence of the slow demise of civilization, as if more evidence were needed.
After I saw Fedor Emelianenko fight, however, my life was completely rearranged. Time I used to spend watching the NBA, reading books, and cultivating meaningful human relationships I started filling with sparring sessions and endless hours watching UFC fights. I used to want to write about movie directors and the creative process; these days I prefer hanging around gyms rhapsodizing about particularly clever kickboxing combinations. This is all Emelianenko’s fault. Not since John F. Kennedy squared off with Nikita Krushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis did so much on the influence of a pudgy, balding Russian.
Our story happened this way:
A few years ago I read an article in ESPN magazine about back-alley bareknuckle-boxing king-turned-prizefighter Kimbo Slice. Despite a lifelong aversion to violence, I was curious about the YouTube streetfights that had made Slice so famous, and after watching him pound down a rag-tag assortment of street toughs I decided (as I’m sure many did) that he must be the toughest man in the world, impervious to pain and impossible to defeat.