You know that scene where Wolverine gets introduced in the first X-Men movie? Where he’s fighting in a cage in some bar in the middle of rural wherever the heck? And they make him look super bad ass, even though he was actually being kind of a douche for fighting some guy who probably didn’t know that he has an adamantium skeleton and healing factor?
The reality, though, is that the scene was actually a fairly accurate depiction of mixed martial arts before 2010. Dive bars around North America would set up a cage or maybe just throw a mat down on the parking lot, pay two men with a few mugs of beer and hope nobody dies.
A lot of fighters today still have ties to that era. Included in that lot is Nate Diaz.
A video of the UFC’s unlikely top star surfaced not too long ago featuring a 17 year old Diaz fighting an opponent in what appears to be the middle of a gym. Check it out here:
The opponent owns a significant size advantage but, even before he started getting serious boxing training, demonstrates some serious aptitude when it comes to utilizing his reach, countering kicks with some long punches. Eventually, Diaz shoots for a takedown attempt, and his opponent goes for a guillotine choke.
Diaz frees himself, and manages to get into side control and mount from there, landing some ground and pound. As his foe attempts to defend, Diaz grabs hold of an arm and locks up a great armbar for the win. The two hug afterwards and Diaz returns to his team.
While this is by no means a high-level MMA contest, it’s still a fun look back on both Diaz’s and MMA’s roots. In this Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor Era of MMA where fighters are looked at by the mainstream media and events are contested on the glamorous Las Vegas strip, it wasn’t all that long ago that the norm for MMA was two dudes going bare knuckle with no cups in the back area of a gym.
That isn’t to say that things were better back in the day. There’s a good chance that the guy Diaz beat died of a heart attack during his next fight, contested behind a waffle house in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin.
But boy…what a trip it’s been.
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