Vice Magazine Presents: Fightland
for those of you unfamiliar with vice magazine, it's perhaps the most in-depth, confrontational investigative journalism available. they're known for heading straight into harm's way, reporting everywhere from the front lines of the syrian and libyan rebellions to drug camps in the congo to north korean labor camps in eastern siberia.
their interests and reporting are diversified to a point that they have several online tv shows about food, fashion, drug culture, street art, music, and those odd rightwing guys out in the bunker in the woods talking to god on a two-way radio. their most recent foray into a specific aspect of society is an mma show, 'fightland.'
Fightland | by Vice.com
their pieces feature everything from the big-name interest stories, (op-eds on fedor, interviews with UFC champions, etc), to small-name interest stories (video blogs of joe lauzon's training camp, charlie brenneman's road back to the UFC, favorite fight songs), to vice-style off the grid, gritty journalism, (jonathan brookins leaving for india, muy thai tryouts in phuket, cuban amateur mma circuits).
i implore you all to thumb through it. here are a couple tastes:
God and Wrestling Come to MSG | FIGHTLAND
Mirko Cro Cop Kills My Dreams, Burns My Eyes | FIGHTLAND
The Snowman vs. the Cops | FIGHTLAND
this was the most recent sample on the page. pretty good insight.
In all the years Iíve been following mixed martial arts Iíve only felt real pity twice.
The first time was UFC 128 in March, 2011, when Jon ďBonesĒ Jones beat Mauricio ďShogunĒ Rua for the UFC light heavyweight championship. That fight was so one-sided, and Rua looked so lost, almost angelic, in his suffering that I couldnít help feeling for him what any halfway decent person would feel for any person getting swallowed by his greatest fear: Pity in the true Aristotelian sense of the word. Now, I donít claim to understand anything about Aristotle, but Iíve read enough quotes on daily calendars to know that real, "classical" pity is what we feel for someone whoís experiencing suffering he doesnít deserve. And no one Ė not Shogun Rua, not Rick Santorum, not anyone -- deserved to fight Jon Jones that night.
My second experience with pity took place this past Saturday during the main event of UFC 155 in Las Vegas. Watching heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos get completely overwhelmed by Cain Velasquez for 25 unending, suffocating minutes bordered on the inappropriate. I felt like I was seeing some part of dos Santos no one outside of his closest friends and family was ever supposed to see: complete vulnerability. He looked terrified; he looked lost; he looked like he wanted nothing more than to sleep for a thousand years, tucked away in the dark, alone with his shame. Junior dos Santos looked innocent.
But this is one of the most remarkable things about being an MMA fan: We get to witness unfiltered human emotion. This is true to a certain extent with all athletes, of course, but football players are buried behind masks, baseball players are protected by teams, and runners, swimmers, gymnasts, and golfers donít offer themselves up to be physically mauled in public. When they lose, their loss isnít equated with a death. The look in Junior dos Santosí eyes wasnít the look of a person who was losing a game; he was losing his life. And for the first time, he didnít know what to do about it. Itís an amazing thing to see a look of profound, existential powerlessness on the face of someone who had always been the personification of indestructibility.
But my experience Saturday went beyond simple identification. It wasnít just that for the first time I could feel what an MMA heavyweight champion was feeling; I always knew Junior dos Santos was capable of being afraid. This was something different, something more meaningful, more elemental, and at the same time more unnerving. This was looking inside another human being all the way. It was an autopsy. The entirety of Junior dos Santos -- the unbeatable champion, the "baddest man on the planet" -- was laid out on display for all the world to see. Which, when you think about it, is both the most disquieting thing in the world and an act of highest generosity. And so mine was a noble voyeurism. That's what I keep telling myself.