At least as far as the UFC is concerned the top end of the MMA world has been pitching between exhilarating and entirely uninteresting lately. Fortunately, for those times when the world’s largest MMA promotion isn’t bringing their best stuff, we’ll always have the weirdo fringes of combat sports (including Muay Thai, Lethwei and Dambe). That’s what we’re serving, and that’s hopefully what you’re hungry for. Now, let’s eat.
Pretend Master vs. Reality
We’re starting off with a very familiar face to the WTF combat sports round up. Our guy Jerry at Fight Commentary Breakdowns gives us the goods with one of the most mesmerizing subgenres of martial arts videos: the fake master versus the real fighter.
Now look, you’ve heard this song before. You know how it goes. A guy (always a guy) puts himself through decades of training in some BS martial art, amasses a group of compliant and/or suggestible acolytes and never tastes the blunt force of reality slamming them in the mouth. Until one day, they foolishly accept to test themselves against an actual martial artist that trains with contact and that person… well… slams them in the mouth.
The intro to the fake master is beautiful, he looks like he’s nailed the other guy with one of those handshake buzzer thingies we used to have as kids. I have no idea what kids have now to be evil to each other, but those things absolutely sucked.
The dude goes on to face a legit kickboxer that flattens him with a right hook that doesn’t even look like it landed flush.
There’s more to enjoy, though. There’s a Wing Cun guy taking on a BJJ blue belt, which made me personally feel less bad about my own grappling incompetence. There’s also some Tai Chi guys eating shit against actual resistance from their sparring partners, and a guy that tries to emulate Wuxia acrobatics but ends up kissing a wall. It’s a lovely time to be a martial artist.
Next up, we’re back in Nigeria, looking at African Warriors Fighting Championships. As usual, the action is simply amazing. This bout has a familiar beat: starts a bit slow, lot of feeling out. But then round 2 comes around and it turns into a firefight with an electrifying finish. Wanna see a dude get planted right on his butt? Watch this:
Paris Grand Slam (judo) highlights
We’re gonna give another shout-out to Judo Highlights, who brings us a compilation of the best Ippons from the recent Paris Grand Slam. Lovely technique and jaw-dropping execution.
Lethwei vs. Muay Thai battle for the ages
This next one was tough to watch. Muay Thai fighter Cyrus Washington takes on Lethwei demigod Tun Tun Min, and it’s some of the most intense action you’ll see all week. Washington was a former Taekwondo standout and earned multiple titles in kickboxing and Muay Thai, and he not only holds his own against a revered Lethwei figure—he takes it to him and brutalizes him. They give each other so much punishment that the grind wears them both down by the end. Be sure to watch the whole thing.
Hey, the thumbnail should be a good indicator of what you’re in for. This Muay Thai vs. Lethwei series is one for the ages and one you should not miss.
Demo, but still fire
From the brutality of Muay Thai vs. Lethwei we move to something less violent, but still quite thrilling. I don’t usually watch talent shows. But this is exceptional. America’s Got Talent had a Taekwondo demonstration team on and it was blazing:
Ken Norton tribute
Finally, a tribute to an underappreciated king. I didn’t know too much about Ken Norton other than his boxing prowess, but this mini-doc is a beautiful paean to a man that had such an interesting background and career. While clearly a fan project, it’s really sharply made and well-written with a full examination of his ascent and later years.
Also, a compilation of some of his best highlights:
That’s it for this week, kids. Remember to be kind and go hard (RIP Keith). And remember – you might think you can fight, but there are many guys like you all over the world.
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