As I settled in for the flight from New York to Las Vegas for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (search) over the weekend, I hoped the action in the Octagon would be as exciting and entertaining as Stephen Chow’s "Kung Fu Hustle" (search).
The Asian import, in theaters now, is one of the most innovative, imaginative, hilarious and action-packed films to hit the big screen since “Pulp Fiction.”
Imagine the Road Runner of cartoon fame meets “The Five Deadly Venoms” of hokey Saturday afternoon “Kung Fu Theater.” “Hey you,” the actor says, his mouth still moving long after the voiceover stops. “My Kung Fu is much better than yours.”
Then imagine you love every minute of it.
If this sounds like something up your alley, then go see “Kung Fu Hustle” right now. Point your mouse at the little X in the top right corner of your browser. Click it. Now shut down the PC and get yourself to the nearest cinema.
If you’re still with me, allow a brief history on the UFC. For those of you not familiar with mixed martial arts competitions, you may assume that it’s a barbaric spectacle of a sport. You’re right.
There’s plenty of blood in the Octagon. There are bone-crushing blows to the legs, face, arms and body. There are submission holds that are capable of snapping an arm in two or choking an opponent to unconsciousness.
And I love every minute of it.
Seriously, folks, what is the harm in two consenting adult athletes who respect their bodies, their sport and each other “grounding and pounding” one another?
I know it’s a contradiction, but in light of yet another tragic abduction, sexual assault and murder of a 13-year-old girl (little Sarah Lunde (search)), perhaps a little controlled violence is just what this country needs.
Perhaps, but I’ll tell you something: As soon as my daughter is old enough to walk more than 15 feet on her own without falling over, she’s going to learn how to defend herself.
I know from experience that learning a martial art will do well for her safety, as well as her self-esteem and self-confidence.
I’ve mentioned in this column before that it’s time for us to protect our children. It’s time to find out who the sex offenders are in our neighborhoods. It’s time to go further than we’ve gone before, and to borrow from Mark Lunsford (search), it’s time to get mad.
How far should we go?
Should we put alarms on all our doors and windows? Should we buy firearms to protect our children? Should we inject a Lojack somewhere beneath our children’s skin so we can find them quickly if they go missing?
Perhaps we should Lojack sex offenders, or should we lock these people away for life? Maybe we should put them in the Octagon with Chuck Liddell (search) or Matt Hughes.
I don’t know the answers to these questions. They are for people much smarter than I am to answer. I do, however, know how to fight. And I’ll pass that knowledge on to my daughter.
The Ultimate Fighter
For nearly five years, the UFC has been owned by a company called Zuffa, a Las Vegas-based entertainment firm.
And since a mild-mannered former boxer named Dana White (search) became president of the UFC, he has fought hard to legitimize the sport by introducing rules, weight classes and organizational training and safety standards.
His efforts have succeeded.
“Hopefully we’ll continue to move in the right direction,” he told me during an interview from inside the Octagon before Saturday’s Pay-Per-View event. “We have great athletes representing the sport and it’s doing very well,” he said.
Spike TV, the cable network aimed at young, male audiences, will renew "The Ultimate Fighter," (search) a reality show in the same vein as all the rest, where contestants are assigned teams and live in a house with castmates until one by one they’re all eliminated.
In “The Ultimate Fighter,” challenges lead to two rounds of intense fighting in the Octagon, the mixed martial artist’s boardroom, if you will. The winners in each weight class are awarded a six-figure contract to become a player in the UFC.
The show is produced by the UFC, and not only has it broadened the sports prospects for growth and acceptance (according to Nielsen Media Research, some 3 million tune in every week), it also produced some of the best fights in UFC history, not to mention made White a celebrity in his own right.
He signed as many autographs as the celebrities who were in attendance, including Kevin James, Cindy Crawford, Pam Anderson and Chuck Zito (search).
Look, Ultimate Fighting is not for everyone.
In fact, it’s not for the majority of people. But neither is NASCAR and there are some 75 million fans of that sport. There’s enough to go around.
Now Boarding Oblivions
Back to my flight to Vegas, and the urge to perform submission holds on several airline Oblivions.
Why can’t they stay seated at the gate? Why do they have to congregate at the front of the check-in line in anticipation of their group or row to be called, forcing everybody to walk through them to board the plane? Grrr!
And why does first class board first? Do you think they feel awkward when the rest of us walk past them on our way back to the cheaper seats? Maybe that’s why they never make eye contact with the proletariat.
I travel a lot, but never in first class. I can understand the value in more space, more comfort and being first off the plane, however, I don’t think the exorbitant price is worth it.
After all, whether I pay $139 round trip or $1,139, I’m still getting there.
Most flights to Vegas from anywhere are full of rowdy people psyched up for Sin City.
This one was no exception.
A group of women headed for a bachelorette party started partying at the gate and didn’t shut up until they all mercifully fell asleep somewhere over Illinois.
The guy in front of me was in my lap, which really isn’t too bad — seats are made to recline — but this guy had an itchy scalp which he scratched vigorously most of the flight (I hope that was salt on my peanuts).
And the two women seated in front of me were talking way too loudly.
Whenever I go to Las Vegas, the first thing that pops into my head upon arrival is always: “Why did I get married?” There always seems to be beautiful women taunting me — taunting me I tell you! — with their “only in Vegas” wardrobes (or lack thereof), as if to say “nah-nah-na-na-nah, you got mar-ried.”
You ever notice very beautiful women are often accompanied by goons wearing F-C-U-K T-shirts who scowl at every man who happens to look in their direction? Sorry, but I’m walking this way. I have to look in your direction. You’re going to beat me up?
After a few hours, a few losing hands at blackjack and smelling like a walking cigarette, I always remember why I did get married, and that while Vegas is a fun place to visit and work, there truly is no place like home.
By the way, Liddell won the fight.
See “The Real Deal” in the Foxlife FREE VIDEO section.
And go see “Kung Fu Hustle.”
Stupid Lit'l Dreamer
This week’s SLD mention goes out to “Real-ity” (see the Grrr! Lexicon) Nick Warnock from the first season of Donald Trump’s show “The Apprentice.”
And while I consider it a badge of honor not to help further the “careers” of reality TV folks, I do have a soft spot for Warnock, if only because he’s incredibly candid and realistic about his place in the world of media.
“Hey, before ‘The Apprentice’ I was just a copy machine salesman,” he said in an interview here at FOX News Channel. "Hot women wouldn't give me the time of day."
These days, it's a little easier for him in that department, as well as earning a little more money than what he was making selling machines.
Nick says he is most successful with speaking engagements, and he’s made pretty good cash doing them. Personally, I wonder what the guy’s got to say, but hey, to each your own. (Nick, next time you speak, extend me an invite — I’m curious.)
After a while, Real-ities deserve to be recognized as something other than game-show contestants. After all, Elisabeth Hasselback from "Survivor" has fared well on “The View."
In a way, Warnock is just like us: out there working toward a better career, a better opportunity and a better life.
He’s a Stupid Lit’l Dreamer. Keep dreaming, Nick. Just dream big!
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Mike Straka is the director of operations and special projects for FOXNews.com, and covers entertainment and features on the Sunday program "FOX Magazine."
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