With Leather is a blog that does for the entire sports world what WWTDD does for celebrity gossip, FilmDrunk does for movies, and Cage Potato and Fightlinker do for mixed martial arts: presents its topic in a fashion geared towards the adult male that isn’t entirely serious. In many cases, the content is downright offensive (just like any girl whose been terrible enough to sex you) and that’s just the way we like it.
The guy who runs the site spends a lot of his time covering high class topics like Plaxico Burress’ gunshot wound and Michael “Ron Mexico” Vick’s multiple run-ins with the law, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t show MMA some love. He did an interview with SI’s L. Jon Wertheim, author of Blood in the Cage (which you can win a copy of by entering the GSP War Bandana Wagon Contest here at Fightlinker). The interview hypes both his book and UFC 94, but there’s a few notable excerpts:
White recently stated that UFC will become bigger than soccer or the NFL, yet his unwillingness to relinquish control over any aspect of the organization has prevented UFC from gaining a bigger audience on network TV. Will his iron fist eventually hurt the organization financially? Has it already?
I wrote in the book that if an organism doesn’t expose itself to light, how can it grow? You’ve hit on the big question about the UFC. It’s obviously a massive successâ€”and love him or hate him the success occurred during the Dana White regimeâ€”but I think you limit your growth potential when you’re unwilling to give up any control. This is like Jerry Yang and Yahoo. Only with stitches, tattoos and cauliflower ear.
Did you watch the Affliction card last weekend? I feel like the only asshole who wasn’t impressed with Fedor Emelianenko.
Am I an asshole if I saw the fight but didn’t buy it? Fedor looks like he should be working the door at some B-level pool hall. Then he goes in to fight, looks shaky, and still wins. If he’s a heavyweight in the UFC, I think he beats a Heath Herring type. But I wouldn’t pick him to beat Frank Mir or Lesnar. Sorry, like you I’m just not completely sold yet.
In your acknowledgments, you thanked several fighters who don’t get much “face time” in the book, including Rampage Jackson and Fedor. Any good stories from them you can share that didn’t make it into the footnotes?
As for Fedor, I interviewed him in a Manhattan hotel suite and- Let’s just say before this, a 16-year-old Anna Kournikova was the most awkward interview I’d ever conducted. When I left the hotel suite we had a new winner. (But I appreciated his time, so I noted him in the acknowledgments.)
No way can you leave it at that. If you don’t provide some details, I’m going to assume his suite was stocked with Russian teenagers in lingerie, and he did the interview in a pair of briefs while drinking a 24 oz can of beer. And he offered to sell you one of the girls.
No, nothing so sexy. He was surrounded by henchmen, had no interest in being interviewed, and the translator had only a vague grasp of English.
Wow, that’s the first time I’ve seen somebody who doesn’t hug Fedor’s nuts in a long time. Kudos, Wertheim. Even though I don’t exactly agree with you, I commend your willingness to go against the stream.
I would’ve liked it a lot better if there were Russian teenagers and cans of King Cobra involved in Wertheim’s story. After all, with a body like that, doesn’t it look like Fedor’s diet consists of cupcakes, malt liquor, and prostitutes? Mom always said that you can’t argue with what works (her duct tape idea helped me stop popping wood in church).
The big thing to take away from this interview is just how strong the UFC brand is to this sport. The guy that writes With Leather is likely what the hardcore fans who know what a omoplata is would refer to as a “casual fan,” and I would bet that Wertheim is too. That’s not meant to be degrading whatsoever. What it describes is somebody who has gotten into the sport fairly recently, watches most of the shows, and has a decent idea of what is going on in and out of the cage. They just don’t spend every waking hour obsessing over it enough to be aware of what Fedor has accomplished in comparison to these other guys.
That’s the sentiment that most casual fans — meaning most people who pump money into this sport — are going to have. When Dana White says that Fedor needs to come to the Octagon to prove himself against “the best in the world,” it doesn’t mean that Sylvia, Arlovski, and Barnett aren’t world class. What it means is that until he signs with Zuffa, he won’t be perceived as the best by a good majority of those footing the bill to keep this sport growing. Perception truly is reality, but something tells me that Fedor doesn’t really give two shits.