This month marks my 13th anniversary getting paid to cover mixed martial arts. I've seen a lot of crazy stuff over the years. Spooky, even. Yet nothing quite as odd as UFC 159, which felt cursed dating all the way back to 151's cancellation last September.
Saturday night made me uneasy.
I half-jokingly tweeted the hashtag #UFC159karma throughout the night because it felt like something weird was in the air. Bad mojo. And it certainly played out that way.
No one truly believed Chael Sonnen had a chance in the main event, and a week after such a successful card in San Jose, Calif., expectations were going to be elevated, even if predictions for Jon Jones and Sonnen were lopsided in the champ's favor.
Even though Jones gave Sonnen an opening when he decided to wrestle the wrestler, it wasn't competitive. But then Jones broke his toe and it was apparent that Sonnen had once again come agonizingly close to being a UFC champion. You have to wonder which episode will haunt Sonnen longer: tapping in the final minute against Anderson Silva or failing to survive another half-minute versus Jones. This sort of thing might really eat away at Sonnen. So close, yet impossibly far. Has he suffered the cruelest of fates along the way? You'd better believe it.
OK, back to this 13-year thing. I wasn't bar mitzvahed growing up, so I can't know for sure, but I'm guessing the anxiety I experienced Saturday while watching eyes get poked and toes and thumbs snapped out of place would have mirrored what it feels like becoming a man in front of family and friends.
Brain-gnawing stuff. If I'm going to be forthcoming -- and this shouldn't sound surprising -- I wanted to do anything else but watch UFC 159. The card bothered me so much that by fight night I had to make sure I didn't get too vitriolic on Twitter.
Anyhow, because of everything I mentioned (and stuff I didn't, like the demonic voice that popped up during the pay-per-view broadcast, or Bruce Buffer announcing the wrong name of a winner and other random weirdness) I've decided to treat UFC 159 as my professional bar mitzvah. Right, seems nuts. I hear you. But the night featured anything that could make a kid crumble. Considering the timing, I have no problem treating ugly fights, stoppages, and injuries as adult-turning stuff. From this point forward, I acknowledge that just about anything can happen in the UFC -- and will.
The lesson is you'd better not wilt in the face of really gross MMA acts. In other words, you've got be a grown-up about it.