Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tres Leches of the Martial World

"Tres Leches (Triboro Trilogy)" is a medley of lyrical martial expertise. Over an ominous-sounding RZA track, Prodigy, Inspectah Deck and Big Pun take turns blasting, slicing and crushing the mic, resulting in a joint that is the equivalent of a kung fu masterpiece.

Last weekend's Shields-Henderson (Strikeforce : Nashville) and Pavlik-Martinez, and the upcoming Aldo-Faber (WEC 48 - April 24, 10 PM ET on PPV), has given me inspiration to serve a metaphorical plate of lyrical and sanctioned violence.

1. Prodigy of Mobb Deep, the first batter up in "Tres Leches", is the no-nonsense street emcee whose rhymes carry a violent edge. His menacing attitude on the mic belie his small frame and muted voice, and his cinematic tales good enough to "get Ruger endorsements."

In spite of his one-dimensional game, Jake Shields showed Dan Henderson how deep his skill level is in the art and science of groundfighting. In spite of getting blasted to the floor and pounded with a barrage of strikes in the first half of Round 1, he survived.

After that, it was all Jake Shields, as he repeatedly took down the naturally stronger Dan Henderson, passed guard, mounted and pounded. Shields may not have received any endorsements from Ruger, but I, for one, know better than to underestimate his ability to impose his fighting method on more powerful rivals.

2. Although Inspectah Deck isn't the Wu-Tang member with the catchiest voice, only GZA surpasses him when it comes to pure mic technique. Deck's run in 1997-98 blessing albums and songs from Wu-Tang Forever ("Triumph" video below) to "Above the Clouds" to "Tres Leches" with sharp verses is the stuff of legends.

Sergio Martinez isn't the boxer with the hardest punch, but he has some of the fastest hands and feet this side of a prime Roy Jones, Jr. And going by what I saw him do to Kelly Pavlik, I'm pretty sure Martinez carries swords in his two hands.

If you saw the fight, you know how "Maravilla" Martinez handed "The Ghost" death by a thousand cuts. You know how he danced around, how he hit Pavlik at will. You know how he took control of the fight early, how he opened a cut over Pavlik's left eye in the first round.

You know how he got knocked down in the seventh, and lost the lead by the end of the eighth. And you damn well know how he finished the fight by giving Pavlik a bloody four-round lesson in pugilistic swordsmanship.

That, amigo, is pretty Maravilla.

3. I have a feeling that Urijah Faber will survive a war with Jose Aldo with his Big Pun style of fighting. Mike Brown's methodical counterattacking style was a bad matchup for him, but I think Faber's wrestling-based freewheeling style gives him some useful weapons to fire against the Muay Thai MMA specimen from Brazil.

The muscular Urijah Faber may be a brawler who fights closer to the ground, but he's skilled in all aspects of the sport. He's a striker with decent technique and power to be respected. He fights well enough on the ground to end fights with submissions. We all know about his takedowns and strength.

Faber's improvisational skills allow him to, more often that not, apply the right technique at the right time. Faber's combination of brains and brawn remind me of Big Pun's witty punchlines and heavy-handed flow.

With the emotional support of his hometown Sacramento behind him, I think Urijah Faber will be able to eke out a split decision over Jose Aldo - if everything goes right. Aldo has a higher center of gravity and his close-quarter combat skills are unproven against an explosive, creative wrestler like The California Kid. These are some things Faber could exploit.

That, amigo, concludes the tale of three lyrical weapons specialists reincarnated in the world of combat sports, "Tres Leches of the Martial World".


  1. Awesome stuff. Especially the Inspectah Deck analogy. Deck is sneaky in how nasty he is, but when you break it down, he's tough to beat in terms of the overall package he brings...

  2. I remember back in 1997 when Wu-Tang Forever came out. Us high school kids were going crazy over his verses, like the ones from "Triumph" and "For Heaven's Sake".

    Plus, when I consider the quality that he dropped on "Hellz Wind Staff" and "Heaterz", I start getting a perspective on how much he contributed to the Wu's sophomore effort. And I haven't even mentioned his other verses from the double album (I have to go back and listen to them again).

    Writing this piece has given me motivation to go back and listen to Deck's solo albums. I didn't feel Deck's solo debut album Uncontrolled Substance nearly as much as I felt some of the other Wu solos or his own individual tracks, and ended up not giving his follow-ups a chance.

    But whether I end up becoming a big fan of INS as a solo artist isn't important. Even if I don't, his incredible consistency in the way he has ripped verses throughout the years (as a Wu-Tang member and as a guest) is enough to have a place in my heart.

    Everything else is gravy.

  3. Henry,

    Switching the topic from battle rhymes to combative sport, whose chances do you favor between Aldo and Faber's in WEC 48?

    As much as he struggled against Mike Brown, I like Urijah Faber's chances against Jose Aldo, the man who destroyed Brown.

    As I mentioned in this post, Faber's got the wrestling and is awesome at applying the pressure in close-quarter situations. He may be able to exploit Aldo's relative inexperience in those areas and the youngster's higher center of gravity.

    But Faber would have to fight the fight of his life.

  4. I agree with you that Faber would have to have the fight of his life, and I do think it's possible. He's a tough dude, and can take a serious beating, and if he manages to get Aldo to the canvas he's got a shot.

    But, easier said than done. Aldo might not be the most experienced fighter, but he's quicker and more athletic than Faber, and in my opinion is one of the best strikers in the featherweight division. The thing that will bring him to victory, however, is his takedown defense. In this way, I think he matches up really well because his defensive strength is a counter to Faber's offensive strength. Ultimately I see Aldo winning by KO after wearing Faber down for a few rounds.

  5. Different opinion, but excellent analysis. Only fight night will tell what happens.

    As with the upcoming Aldo-Faber, this martial arts chess match characteristic is what makes MMA so fun to analyze.

  6. Henry, Aldo-Faber was scary. By that, I mean Jose Aldo's brutally effective fighting method and the possibility of Faber getting seriously hurt were enough to send chills down my spine while watching the fight.

    Your prediction beats mine. Faber wasn't knocked out, but he was surely overwhelmed.

    Getting his legs kicked out from underneath, a la Renzo Gracie. Getting elbowed in the face after being crucified. Taking hard body punches.

    Two tough ass dudes indeed.

    A post-fight piece will come shortly.

  7. Hiya! Not so sure about the fight - I'm more of a Queensbury rules guy myself, but the music is ill. Prodigy and RZA, those two need to work together more...

    And Killer Bees - Meth's rap is legendary on that, GZA kills it, too, even tho his part is only short. You guys heard the new Wu album - Ghost, Raekwon and Meth? Some raw tunes on there 2...

  8. I haven't heard the Ghost, Rae and Meth album, but I'll try to get a hold of that.

    If you're into the sweet science, a Mayweather-Mosley pre-fight piece will be up soon. So be on the lookout.

  9. Hey all, let me make a correction on my post-fight comment about Aldo-Faber. I got the "a la Renzo Gracie" link wrong.

    When I talked about Urijah Faber getting his legs taken out by Jose Aldo like Matt Hughes chopping Renzo Gracie's it was supposed to link to my "Bitten by a Vampire" piece.

    And now...

    The Aldo-Faber post-fight piece you've all been waiting for...

    "The Business of a Beatdown"!

  10. Looking forward to your Mayweather-Mosley post, Doc! Any early forecasts?

  11. I like Floyd Mayweather via decision.

    I'll let you know the specifics shortly :)

  12. Hey All,

    The Mayweather-Mosley pre-fight piece that I promised is out.

    It's a look at how I feel a challenged Floyd Mayweather will react, titled "Unleash the Beast".


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