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Fight Club

Mixed martial arts is surging in popularity and could be the salvation of sports.
Joel Drucker
From the Print Edition:
Tiger Woods, May/June 2008

(continued from page 4)

But after reversing another takedown attempt, Nogueira whips Sylvia to the side. Sylvia wriggles out of an armbar but is unable to escape a choke. One minute, 28 seconds into Round 3, and Nogueira is the victor. He holds the gaudy gold belt up in the air. A humbled Sylvia afterward will admit, "He takes a beating and keeps on ticking."

Lesnar earns $250,000. Mir takes home $140,000, while Nogueira gets $260,000 and Sylvia wins $160,000. Lesnar's going home to Minnesota to ice-fish and to "learn how to lose" so he can "learn how to win." Sylvia nods towards Lesnar. He plans to head home to Texas to "kill some pigs and work on my damn jujitsu."

So how best to grasp UFC? B.J. "The Prodigy" Penn is a 29-year-old lightweight from Hawaii who's come to Las Vegas to be photographed for a video game. Penn's authored a book titled Mixed Martial Arts: The Book of Knowledge (Victory Belt Publishing, 2007). He has the cauliflower ears of a fighter who's been cuffed a few times, but also the extensive discipline and devotion of a professional athlete. Besides drinking two gallons of water a day, Penn eats 300 grams of protein each day—just over two pounds of filet mignon—and claims that "oatmeal isn't for breakfast." He practices mixed martial arts at least five hours a day. "This is the reality show generation," says Penn, "and this is the reality sport for this generation. This is real emotion, not just something with a ball. Fighting was the first sport. It's the most important." If you agree, then UFC will satisfy your craving.

Joel Drucker is the author of the book Jimmy Connors Saved My Life.

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