Monday, June 1, 2009

Between Legitimacy and Invisibility

"2 Legit 2 Quit" by Hammer

Hammer. Vanilla Ice. Coolio. Naughty by Nature. Dr. Dre. Snoop Dogg.

These are some of the artists that I listened to when I first started listening to hip hop music back in the early to-mid 1990's. Being a pre-teen and teen, I just listened to whatever was popular at the time - and enjoyed it.

As time went by, I started listening to "harder" acts such as Wu-Tang, Mobb Deep, Biggie, Boot Camp Click and Nas. I dug into hip hop's glorious past, incorporating classic material from legends such as Public Enemy, BDP/KRS-One, Gang Starr and Main Source into my listening regimen.

I didn't eschew mainstream hip hop like the Fugees or Jay-Z. But I fell in love with the underground, including acts like Company Flow, Kool Keith/Dr. Octagon, Mos Def and Talib Kweli, Jedi Mind Tricks, Prince Paul, DJ Shadow, Dan the Automator, The Roots, Common and Jurassic 5.

Just as my taste in music evolved, so has the way I observe MMA. When I was first exposed to MMA, the only names I knew were Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Fedor Emelianenko, Big Nog - just the famous ones.

Urijah Faber represents the still-not-completely-dead youth angst that was dormant in my heart and soul when I became a hardcore follower of MMA.

I loved his bravado, flash and balls-out style of fighting. I liked Faber for precisely the reasons that he's a beloved fighter.

However, my much wilier, savvier current self - the type that now prefers a fighter like Lyoto Machida - thinks Mike Brown is too good and too legit for Faber to take his lost title back from. (WEC 41 : June 7 @ 9 PM ET, Versus).

It's not that Faber isn't world class; I still like the man, but Mike Brown is that good. You'll find hundreds of people with the same name in the phonebook of any major city in the US, but this guy stands out with his intelligent way of fighting.

While Faber can box, wrestle and handle himself on the ground, Brown just has a way of delivering non-telegraphic power punches without wasting much motion or energy. He carries this efficiency over to the wrestling and ground games.

Nothing has changed for WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown.
courtesy of WEC

Brown defended his WEC featherweight title by beating the crap out of Leonard Garcia. Before that, he smashed Faber himself to take his belt. And before he smashed Faber, he unanimously decisioned Jeff Curran to earn the opportunity to challenge Faber.

As Brown says in the Brown-Faber 2 preview video above, what more does he have to do?

Although it's hard to expect Mike Brown to dominate The California Kid as he did the first time, I think his efficient strength and strategy will carry him to a unanimous decision win over the flashier Urijah Faber in their rematch.

Perhaps then, will Mike Thomas Brown finally be able to win some legitimacy in the eyes of MMA fans and observers.

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