The cage combat saga pitting Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk is caught within the “is it taking place or not” stage, to the amusement and fascination of thousands and thousands. After saying the bout could be live-streamed on his social media platform X (previously generally known as Twitter), Musk introduced he’d first bear an MRI to verify he did not want surgical procedure to “strengthen” a titanium plate in his neck (the consequence, he is stated, of sumo wrestling about 9 years in the past). “Precise date continues to be in flux,” Tesla’s “techno king and chief government officer” tweeted of the blended martial arts matchup. “I am prepared in the present day,” Zuck responded on certainly one of his personal social media platforms, Threads, however “not holding my breath.”
Delay could be the higher a part of valor — given the higher bodily situation, the Fb founder is in. However it additionally ups the anticipation ranges of everybody who’d wish to see a billionaire-on-billionaire smackdown. Often, these happen by way of the worth of the inventory they’ve in their very own corporations (Musk is the plutocrat to beat on this class). As my colleague Adrian Wooldridge just lately wrote, bodily fight between these tech titans might set up who’s the alpha-est of all of the alpha males in Silicon Valley.
I get the enchantment of going mano a mano. Kaiju vs. kaiju? I am there. (I obtained up early within the morning for the worldwide debut of Godzilla vs. Kong). Novak Djokovic towards any high 5 males’s singles tennis participant? I am in. Alexis vs. Krystle in Dynasty? Okay, I am exhibiting my age.
Not too way back — nicely, again in 2005 — I used to be caught up within the revival of MMA. It was impressed by a actuality TV present that concluded in a titanic cage combat, which I wrote about for Time journal. Here is my description of the one battle that revived a fugitive sport that is now captured Musk and Zuckerberg:
Neither man would give in, so the gang roared for the fighters to smash one another once more: extra kicks, punches, stomps, knees, and elbows. They obliged. After they obtained too drained to combat, they’d seize one another and crash to the mat of the octagonal ring, grappling, twisting like unusual motion figures, urgent towards the cage’s netting. Then they’d be again on their toes, catching a breath, calculating benefit, their faces streaked with sweat and gore. Each have been bleeders. Weeks earlier than, in a qualifying bout, Forrest Griffin, 26, had suffered a gash above a watch that required so many stitches that few anticipated him to advance within the contest. He healed in time for this night’s punishment, and as Stephan Bonnar, 28, punched him within the head, Griffin cheekily supplied a come-hither smile, turned the opposite cheek, and slammed again.
The combat turned Forrest Griffin (who received) and Stephan Bonnar into the Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier of MMA — and the game right into a industrial and athletic phenomenon. Eight years earlier, it had been banned from TV and main arenas within the US after critics lambasted its weird brutality, which pitted martial artwork towards martial artwork (sumo towards boxing towards Brazilian jiujitsu towards Muay Thai and on and on). The late US Senator John McCain referred to as it “human cockfighting.” However the first season of The Final Fighter on SpikeTV (now the Paramount Community) not solely revived curiosity, it arrange the gladiators in a home the place they shared their lives as they fought and eradicated one another in brutal matches, main as much as the Griffin-Bonnar finale. You rooted for them as fighters but additionally as affecting characters in a drama. That sort of scripting did the trick: It humanized a infamous blood sport.
Griffin and Bonnar have been completely solid because the pioneer commonplace bearers of the revivified MMA. Bonnar was good-looking and brooding. Griffin was a sensible aleck with a gap-toothed charisma. And the astonishing factor is that they have been mates and remained mates, even after Bonnar misplaced a rematch months later (he named his son Griffin). MMA supplied a manner out of obscurity — and close to penury. Griffin advised Time that, whereas preventing in fly-by-night cage circuits, he’d be generally paid $100 an evening —after which see the examine bounce.
The great allure of the unique final fighters was that they have been sturdy males with comfortable hearts. They transcended gladiatorial and mercenary instincts, in addition to monetary adversity, to search out brotherhood regardless of or maybe due to the bodily ache they needed to inflict on one another. That attraction has definitely diminished as the game has grow to be large enterprise and the general public personalities of the fighters extra cartoonish. I do not watch it anymore for that cause and others. I am bored with seeing folks I’ve come to take care of get harm.
The ever-entertaining Griffin has gone on to a company job with the Final Preventing Championship, the Las Vegas-based firm that began all of it. Bonnar’s profession went the opposite manner: He meandered from MMA to wrestling to a run-in with the police. He died all of a sudden in December 2022 from what was first described as a coronary heart assault. This previous March, the coroner’s workplace in Clark County, Nevada, stated it was the results of an “unintended” fentanyl overdose. Bonnar had stated he’d been on a prescription of 30 mg of oxycodone a day — a reasonable quantity — for the ache ensuing from his preventing profession. Griffin tweeted: “Stephan was numerous issues: He was at all times essentially the most fascinating individual within the room, he had the largest coronary heart and most significantly, he was my pal. I at all times beloved it that individuals obtained excited after they came upon we have been actually mates. I am going to at all times miss you, brother.”
It’s heartbreakingly poignant. That sort of emotion doesn’t appear to undergird all of the trash-talking between the 2 billionaires. However, if it finally ends up with real friendship, allow them to combat.
© 2023 Bloomberg LP
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