On Whites & Fighting, Part 2:
Spencer J. Quinn
The White Man Dance
Part 1 here
On August 31 of this year, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) promoted a fight card in Shenzhen, China. Typically, when the UFC takes its business outside of North America, it will employ a number of local fighters and then judiciously pair these fighters to evenly-matched (or maybe slightly overmatched) opponents in order to avoid turning off the home crowd. You’re not going to sell too many tickets in Timbuktu if all the Timbuktutans get knocked out or submitted whenever the UFC comes into town.
They needn’t have worried in China, however. On the whole, the Chinese fighters fared well that evening, and in the main event, women’s strawweight contender Weili Zhang blasted out the Brazilian champion Jessica Andrade in only forty-two seconds. The UFC finally has a Chinese champion.
Here’s what UFC President Dana White had to say about it:
And obviously, I say it all the time, when you got somebody that looks like you, talks like you, and comes from where you come from, and they’re one of the baddest in the world, the crowd reacts to it and the fans get behind it. And we saw that last Saturday.
Yes, yes, and yes. This is ethnocentrism at work. It’s inescapable – it’s inevitable, especially in combat sports where a competitor’s race is impossible to ignore and victory and defeat are often paid for in blood and consciousness. When a fighter of your race spills his blood or loses consciousness in defeat, that’s also your blood and your consciousness. When his conqueror is of the same race, that can be a consolation, because all that was lost was kept as well. But if a member of your race falls to an outsider, you can never get that blood back, and that loss of consciousness symbolizes death. It’s a humiliation.
In the first installment of this series, I described the humiliation the men in my family experienced after white boxer Gerry Cooney was stopped in the thirteenth round by black champion Larry Holmes in 1982. That was a big deal back then, as I am sure it’s a big deal now, given that China finally has a world champion in mixed martial arts. It would have been a quiet night in the Shenzhen Universiad Sports Centre had Weili Zhang been the one lying senseless on the canvas after forty-two seconds.
Two weeks earlier, on August 17, 2019, a white man returned that same humiliation to the black man who defeated him in 2018 – and it was glorious. Stipe Miocic is once again the UFC heavyweight champion, and he conclusively (and concussively) beat an all-time great in Daniel Cormier to regain that honor. The fight itself was magnificent for many reasons, but one requires the backstory in order to fully appreciate it.
When Miocic knocked out Fabricio Verdum in the first round for the heavyweight title in May 2016, many thought it might have been a fluke. Miocic was riding a meager two-fight winning streak going into that match and sported a solid, yet hardly-gaudy, record of 14-2. Regardless, he turned the trick twice more with first round KOs of top-ranked opponents in the ensuing year. Miocic was enjoying his time as the “baddest man on the planet,” but few really believed he deserved it, since there was one contender who seemed bound to wrest that distinction from him.
Francis Ngannou, originally from Cameroon, is a terrifying individual. Both he and Miocic are 6’ 2” tall, but Ngannou is heavier by twenty-five pounds, younger by four years (31 to Miocic’s 35 at the time) and is a breathtaking physical specimen. He’s also extremely athletic and frighteningly powerful, having wiped out a string of top contenders with scintillating knockouts.
During the build-up to the fight, Miocic was asked if he was intimidated by Ngannou, and he answered, “I guess so” .” Needless to say, the bookies didn’t give the white man much of a chance, with many predicting he would get mauled by this beast of a contender. Yet Miocic proved everyone wrong by boxing rings around his befuddled black challenger and taking him down at will with his superior wrestling. He won every round for a unanimous decision, thoroughly embarrassed Ngannou, and afterwards was being touted as the greatest UFC heavyweight champion of all time. He was the first to defend the belt three times. See the entire fight here.
This all came to a crashing halt in July 2018, when Miocic faced black light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, who knocked him out in the first round. The fight had been evenly fought up until a single right hand from Cormier put Miocic’s lights out and ended his reign.
Losing to Cormier was nothing to be ashamed of, though. Cormier was a two-time Olympic heavyweight wrestler and NCAA wrestling runner up at 184 pounds in 2001 (having lost in a competitive match against Olympic gold medalist Cael Sanderson). In MMA he was undefeated at heavyweight, having beaten former champions Josh Barnett and Frank Mir, as well as top contenders such as Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Roy “Big Country” Nelson. At light heavy, he was second only to the great Jon Jones.
Race aside, I like Cormier all right and have tremendous respect for him as a fighter. He’s certainly talented and tough. And he’s a good MMA commentator. As a competitor, he’s all class. He’s also a pretty chipper guy, exuberant without being obnoxious, and generally behaves in a way that makes him hard not to like. But there are reasons why he doesn’t have the best look for a heavyweight champion. He’s short (5’ 11”), he’s old (40), and he’s tubby – especially at heavyweight.
The rematch between Miocic and Cormier at UFC 241 was a classic reminiscent of both “the Rumble in the Jungle” (Muhammad Ali’s eighth round KO over George Foreman in 1974) and “the Thrilla in Manilla” (Ali’s fourteenth round stoppage of Joe Frazier in 1975). You can see the entire fight here. Like any good story, this one has twists and turns and unbelievable, edge-of-your seat action. Miocic showed up at a career-low 230 pounds and appeared intent on getting his belt back, but as with all of his great fights, he was the underdog coming in.
In the first round, Cormier dominated Miocic, generally beating him to the punch and then rag dolling him once he got his hands on him. Cormier is unparalleled in wrestling at that weight division, and it showed. When he got Miocic down, he kept him down.
In the second round and beyond, Cormier inexplicably abandoned his wrestling and decided to wade into Miocic’s wheelhouse and strike with him. Despite being a division I NCAA wrestler himself, Miocic was also a Golden Gloves amateur boxer in his youth and has knockout power in both hands. For Cormier, it was a risk that proved worth taking against light heavyweight challenger Alexander Gustafsson in 2015, but seemed riskier against a heavyweight like Miocic. Nonetheless, Cormier’s strategy paid off in the second round. He struck well with Miocic: employing punches and kicks effectively, and using canny head movement to avoid much of his challenger’s best shots. Still, however, the round was close, with Miocic giving almost as good as he was getting.
The third round was more of the same, except that it became apparent that Cormier’s best punches were doing little more than bouncing off Miocic’s skull. Cormier also was beginning to tire a little more visibly than his challenger, while the two never stopped exchanging accurate and powerful blows. Where before, Cormier had been stalking Miocic, now it was the other way around. Late in the round, Miocic secured his first takedown and made Cormier eat a knee the moment he stood up. It seemed like the challenger was gaining momentum.
I likened the Cormier-Miocic rematch to the Thrilla in Manilla for its grueling, back-and-forth nature. Both fighters really put the hurt on the other and were forced to dig deep just to survive – let alone win. But how was it like the Rumble in the Jungle? Recall that in that fight, Ali began by standing toe-to-toe with the bigger and younger Foreman, and zinging him with right-hand leads. Then, however, he changed tactics and started covering up against ropes, allowing his man to whale away at him. By the eighth round, an exhausted Foreman had punched himself out and was easy pickings for the quicker Ali. This tactic famously became known as the “rope-a-dope.”
In round four, Stipe Miocic employed an equally successful change in tactics: he began digging left hooks to the body. After nearly two minutes of stalking Cormier, he struck his man in the liver, and right away it was clear that Cormier did not like that. Headshots and leg kicks he’d been handling all night, but this was different. The body punishment from Miocic was forcing Cormier to retreat and lower his guard. He lacked either the footwork or the energy to avoid those shots, and – with all due respect to Cormier – his somewhat corpulent physique made him an easy target. As Miocic pointed out later, former middleweight champion Anderson Silva had hurt Cormier to the body in their 2016 battle, so he knew that his man was vulnerable there (although why he waited three and a half rounds to start pummeling Cormier’s ribcage is anyone’s guess). In all, Miocic nailed Cormier to the body about a dozen times, with each blow being dramatically more effective than the previous one. Finally, with about a minute left in the round, Miocic outmaneuvered Cormier with his footwork and drilled him with a powerful right. The referee waved off the fight as Cormier crumbled to the canvas under a barrage from Miocic.
Then came the white man dance.
This struck me as similar to Irish folk dancing, but since Miocic is Croatian and intensely proud of his roots, perhaps they do this kind of dancing in Croatia as well. In either case, it’s a European thing, and the white identitarian in me was delighted to see this kind of celebration. Later, Miocic disavowed the dance, saying he felt “ dumb” for doing it. But I don’t care. This dance was an expression of racial and cultural pride that all people of European descent should be able to relate to – especially in a sport in which whites are not particularly dominant.
At the moment, Stipe Miocic is the sole white American champion in the UFC. The only other Caucasian champ is the amazing Khabib Nurmagomedov at lightweight. Khabib is a Muslim from Dagestan. It may be debatable if he’s white – I think he is – but he’s certainly Caucasian in the strict sense of the term. On September 7, he defended his title against another top-notch white fighter in Dustin Poirier.
Still, whites do not have the greatest presence in MMA at the moment. Yes, the UFC lightweight division is stacked with white guys, and the beautiful Valentina Shevchenko rules the roost in the very white women’s flyweight division.
But white contenders are getting scarcer and scarcer in just about every division. Superstar Conor McGregor has been MIA from the sport – no doubt enjoying his newfound wealth and getting into trouble, as is his wont. Recently, dominant bantamweight TJ Dillashaw was knocked out in the first round by Olympic gold medalist and Mexican-American Henry Cejudo, and then suffered a two-year ban for doping. Former lightweight boss Frankie Edgar failed to unseat Hawaiian featherweight champion Max Holloway back in July. Undefeated Ben Askren suffered an embarrassing five-second knockout loss to welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal. Former middleweight kingpins Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman are on the decline. At light heavy, Jon Jones has already dispatched all viable contenders, regardless of race. And boxing great and former bantamweight champion Holly Holm recently suffered the first knockout loss of her MMA career against current Brazilian champion Amanda Nunes.
At the moment, the biggest threats whites have in the UFC outside the lightweight division are from Alexander Volkanovski at featherweight, Cory Sandhagen at bantamweight, and MAGA hat-wearing Colby Covington at welterweight (who probably should get his own article one of these days given his vocal support for Donald Trump and his entertainingly trollish behavior). If this is an ongoing trend or merely a slump, only time will tell.
The opposite seems to be happening in boxing, however, with an incredible upsurge of white talent. This pound-for-pound list puts four whites in the top ten, and three in the top three! These include the Ukrainians Vasyl Lomanchenko at lightweight (who recently fended off a stiff challenge from white British contender Luke Campbell) and Olexander Usyk at cruiserweight, the red-haired Mexican Canelo Alvarez (yes, I consider him white), and the big-mouthed and big-bodied Brit Tyson Fury. Fury recently came out of retirement (and near-obesity) to score a draw against undefeated knockout artist Deontay Wilder in a fight everyone else besides the judges felt he had won. Here’s video of Fury’s miraculous comeback in round twelve after being floored by a pair of shots that would have killed just about anybody else.
Race doesn’t come up much in MMA – and it really shouldn’t. Fight fans just want to see exciting fights, and never is a fighter’s race an obstacle to that. Most important is that the competitors fight fairly, are as evenly matched as possible, and receive the appropriate treatment from the referees and judges. Of course, who each fan roots for is their own business. What I have seen is that, all things being equal, people will root for the fighter closest to them genetically, culturally, and geographically. Chinese fans are now excited about Weili Zhang in ways they would never have been about a non-Chinese fighter. This is both good and natural. It is also something that white people in the West seem to have forgotten; otherwise, they would have been much more excited about Stipe Miocic’s incredible come-from-behind victory against Daniel Cormier.
Early on in Gerry Cooney’s fight against Larry Holmes, one of Cooney’s handlers urged him on by saying, “America needs you!” At this moment, however, it doesn’t seem as if America needs Stipe Miocic.
But I wish it did.
 Valentina Shevchenko, by the way, is an amazing woman. Of Ukrainian heritage, she is tri-lingual, highly intelligent, full of class, and deadly. Check out her devastating head-kick knockout of poor Jessica Eye and her impeccable behavior afterwards. Check out also her white woman’s dance, which she performs after each victory.
 Although he does not dance (as far as we know), Tyson Fury can sing pretty well and often serenades his wife after his victories. Here he is hitting all right notes after his dominant victory over another Ukrainian great, Wladimir Klitschko.
Spencer J. Quinn is a frequent contributor to Counter-Currents and the author of the novel White Like You.
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