FIGHT SONGS: AN ALTERNATIVE PLAYLIST FOR FIGHTERS

Jeff Monson enters the cage at Strikeforce: Overreem/Werdum

Jeff Monson runs to the cage at Strikeforce: Overreem/Werdum

When Jeff the Snowman Monson fought Tim Sylvia for the UFC Heavyweight championship at UFC 65 in 2006, Monson entered the cage to John Lennon’s “Imagine.”  I was watching the event at a bar, and everyone sat in silence, mostly because the majority of patrons were craning their necks to hear what the song was.  Hilarity ensured.  To know Monson and his political slant (and general take on life) is to know the song choice isn’t necessarily out of his wheelhouse.  It was a pretty bold choice, actually. It said everything about him even if it wasn’t the most obvious kinetic musical choice conducive to punching an opponent in the face.

For some fighters their musical choice for entrance is their calling card.  Before Jim Miller switched to The Hollies, you could set your clock to the cold open of “Bad Moon Rising” as he came out of the dressing room (he should go back to it, really).  For others, the selection is picked for them if the promotion deems the choice not “bad ass” or “hardcore” enough to capture, psychologically, the toughness it takes to get into the Octagon (sidebar: I think I’d be more intimidated by a friendlier song choice, i.e. Homer Simpson’s entrance to face Drederick Tatum in The Simpsons).  This predilection to be so on the nose about a musical choice that embodies the toughness it takes to get into the cage, leads to some really stale or obvious choices by fighters and the promotion.

To that end, I’m including a list of musical gems that should be adopted, as well as a list of UFC fighters who could benefit from a new playlist, to break up the monotony in entrance jingles, and to make Burt Watson do a small double take as he leads the fighter and his/her camp out to the check in point.

Frank Mir

Previous walkout song: “Amazing” – Kanye West

Recommended walkout song: “Bad MF” – Pharaohe Monch

A newer selection, but it takes a heavyweight with some pretty violent wins to carry the claim the song exemplifies. Plus, to call yourself amazing sets the bar pretty high and sets the expectation to mean flawless.  Calling yourself a Bad MF doesn’t mean you are perfect just someone with whom to be reckoned.

 

Gunnar Nelson

Previous walkout song:  “Leiðin okkar allra” – Hjálmar

Recommended walkout song:  “Stress” – Organized Konfusion

I actually wouldn’t change Gunnar’s walkout music at all.  There’s something calmingly creepy about this choice of song.  It fits his demeanor perfectly.  However, for the sake of juxtaposition, I’d love to see someone who always looks like he just rolled out of bed and without a care in the world come out to a song that’s about stress.

 

Demetrious Johnson

Previous walkout song: “Go Get It” – T.I.

Recommended walkout song:  “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” – Queens of the Stone Age

This song goes hard, sure.  But because of the hypothetical posed by Jordan Breen on the last episode of “Press Row” with guest Jeremy Botter in which Breen suggested DJ could be a cocaine kingpin and still be allowed to fight in the UFC, I couldn’t resist.

 

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Previous walkout music: “You Can’t Stop Me Now” by Bobby Digital

Recommended walkout music: “Bucktown” – Smif-N-Wessun

First of all, I can’t front on Khabib’s previous selection.  However, it seems more like a choice to ride to than fight to.  In order to compliment the head-bobbing feel of the Rza/Bobby Digital choice, I recommend something just as calculating, though a little darker, that could work in his ride or in his walk.

 

Robbie Lawler

Previous walkout music: “Beautiful” – Eminem

Recommended walkout music: “Mr. Saturday Night Special” – Lynard Skynard

Eminem is a go-to choice for a ton of fighters, and it makes sense.  The guy seems to always have the perfect complement of beat, lyrics, and delivery—the kind of balance fighters look for in the cage.  “Beautiful” seems like something you’d listen to for the sake of self-affirmation, and the lyrics really delve into reflection and a journey.  After his showing at UFC 171 and his previous 3 performances, Robbie should not be reflective.  He should be resolute.   He belongs.  As a guy who shows up to fight on PPV Saturday, he deserves a song that punctuates as much as his left hook.

Finally, I’m including a list of general recommendations to make an entrance to, be it the ring, the classroom, or office place.  Though on the next PPV, turn down the volume and play one of the following to see if they work better than what’s being echoed in the area.  I may not bash a fighter’s abilities, but his/her taste in music is fair game.

“Nowhere to Run” – Gravediggaz

 

“Headbanger” – EPMD

 

“War Pigs” – Black Sabbath

 

“Damage” – Blues Explosion

 

“Release Yo Delf” – Method Man

 

“Painkiller” – Judas Priest

 

“Last Caress” – The Misfits

 

“Know Your Rights” – The Clash

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UFC 165: The Afterglow

photo: Tom Szczerbowski, USA TODAY Sports

There are so many things to sort out after a tremendous UFC 165 main event that featured Jon Jones narrowly edging out a decision victory over Alexander Gustafsson.  In an otherwise lackluster card on paper, the entire night was coming off as simply better-than-average when the posterboys showed exactly why they get top billing.

The main and co-main offered a glimpse of the future of this sport.  Barao, Gustafsson, and Jones are the simply light years ahead of their contemporaries.  The main event in particular showed a pacing and drama that most Hollywood blockbusters lack.  Just think about the inevitable rematch between Gustafsson and Jon Jones.  Now, think about the fact that these two will eventually move into the heavyweight bracket and likely face off there as well.  A rivalry was born tonight.  Gustafsson didn’t give an inch, and Jon Jones got the “dog fight” he always wanted.  Next time around, I see this one ending a lot sooner.  But I’d also like to see this one happening a lot sooner.

That may be easier said than done as both champion and contender left to the hospital after the fight.  According to Ariel Helwani, Jones went straight from the cage to the locker room, to the hospital on a stretcher with his eyes closed.  Gustafsson did a few interviews and then also left for the hospital faring slightly better than the champ.  However, that image of Jones bring carried to the back lies in stark contrast to the image of the champ doing a single-armed cartwheel into the cage.

photo: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

photo: the most awesome Esther Lin

Both men showed hearts bigger than their chests.  Gustafsson brought out the best in Jones and vice versa.  The only real loser to come out of that fight is Glover Teixeira. Glover has earned a title shot against Jones, but I can totally get behind seeing a rematch between Jones and Gustafsson first. That main event alone was worth the ppv money I spent, and I’d gladly fork over double to see 25 more minutes of those two locking horns.  No one has tested Jones the way The Mauler did, and looking over the 205 division, I don’t see anyone else pushing him to the limit similarly.

In other news, the UFC needs to drop the “interim” prefix to Renan Barao’s bantamweight title.  I have a lot of respect for Dominick Cruz, and though he still holds the title, Barao has earned the respect of the division and the fans.  It’s a little insulting to refer to him as interim anything.  He’s bonafide.  I really would love to see the Dominick Cruz from 2011 taking on the Renan Barao of 2013.

Finally, let the eagle soar. Sort of.  Khabib Nurmagomedov put on the hat, made 170, and decisioned a very off-his-game Pat Healy.  Nurmagomedov channeled his inner Matt Hughes at one point during the match, carried and flung Healy to the mat.  And despite some solid shots, Nurmagomedov could only control Healy, and failed to finish Healy.  After the fight, Nurmagomedov called for a title shot.  Please. No.  Not now.  A Showtime Pettis highlight clinic versus a Nurmagomedov toss and frost exhibition does nothing for me.  However, a matchup between the winner of the Gilbert Melendez/Diego Sanchez showdown and Nurmagomedov does pique my interest.

At the end of the night, Gustafsson and Jones recieved fight of the night honors, Barao got KO of the night, and Mitch Gagnon earned a sub of the night bonus that I probably would have given to Brendan Schaub. The conversation for the foreseeable future, though, will be Gustafsson, Jones, and the 205 landscape.  And rightfully so.