Touch Butts and Come Out Fighting

McGregor

Connor McGregor is a great fighter. He’s got style, he’s talented, and his trash talk is unparalleled in its intensity. He’s one of my favorite fighters and I hope he’s in the game for a very long time because he brings it and he’s a delight to watch. But he’s not above ridicule. No one is. Not even his trainer, Ido Portal.

Homo Sapiens used to really be into human sacrifices. They would take a virgin or great enemy warrior or some unfortunate random villager and throw them into a volcano or cut their heads off at the top of whatever alien designed pyramid the Jaguar gods liked. There was a lot of regional variability in the sacrificial operating procedures.

These days we don’t see too many human sacrifices. Sure there’s the occasional honor killing, but we’re supposed to ignore those because it would be insensitive to point out some cultures are super backwards and do dumb shit because they haven’t updated their brain software since the Bronze Age. What we do see is a frequently recurring trend of rapid elevation and diminishment of celebrities.

We raise our heroes up and then sacrifice them on a digital bonfire. Last week McGregor was Mystic Mac. This week he’s the chump who played touch butt with a pool noodle in the park with that dude wearing a man-bun. The Wheel of Fate is fickle. If McGregor had KO’d Nate Diaz, we’d be suffering from a deluge of counterfeit natural movement gurus telling us the true edge can be found alligator crawling in a dog park or tree swinging at $3000 weekend seminars.

touchbutt
No touch butt.

One masterfully applied rear-naked choke shifted the training conversation back to basics. It turns out Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is still great. Training with legit boxers is still a good move. All the other stuff you might consider adding to your toolbox like hot yoga, Crossfit, Scientology mind-coaching, and psychedelic anal bleaching should be added only after the basics have been thoroughly mastered.

One of the worst things to ever happen to my own martial arts training was getting into Crossfit. I started doing it to supplement the kickboxing and occasional Jiu-Jitsu class I was doing for fitness, but quickly became obsessed with it because it’s super fun. Pretty soon I wasn’t learning to fight, I was trying to be the best at exercise.

I would do exactly the same thing again, though. I learned a lot about lifting weights and met many high quality people through Crossfit. I consider my involvement in its early days to be one of the best choices I ever made. That said, if I had stuck with BJJ, I’d probably be at least a decent blue belt by now. Nothing rewards consistency like grappling does.

I don’t know what McGregor was up to with his training, but we saw a lot of footage of him training with Ido Portal, so that’s what the internet seems to be shitting all over this week.

I don’t hate on Ido Portal, he’s a super beast and I’d be happy to be able to do even 5% of what he can. I’ve dabbled in similar training at my buddy Matt’s Gym, Move-SF. It’s great for your body, really enjoyable, looks cool, and is never boring.

ido
Ido Portal teaching Intro to Touch Butt.

I share Ex-UFC fighter Brendan Schaub’s point of view.  Portal and his followers are not re-inventing the wheel. But that’s ok. Crossfit wasn’t reinventing the wheel either, but its popularity has done more for bringing people to powerlifting and kettle bell sport than any person involved in either of those odd subcultures. It would be a decent outcome if people were to get into Portal’s program and find their way to other fading, but established, movement practices, like Olympic gymnastics.

From where I’m watching, Ido Portal’s biggest lack (other than the man bun) is taking himself too seriously. I don’t think you’d see nearly as many anti-Portal memes this week if he hadn’t positioned himself as Gymnast Jesus. Nobody has all the answers and in fighting, there’s only one metric that matters. If your fighter didn’t open a can of that good old fashioned whoop ass, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

MMA champions and other high performers seem to attract charlatans. I remember a few years ago tons of pro athletes were wearing those stupid ass hologram necklaces to improve their balance and if Steven Seagal is to believed, he taught Anderson Silva everything he knows.

seagal
Anderson Silva’s fusion jazz licks are magical thanks to Seagal.

Champs fall for this stuff sometimes because they’re always looking for an edge. This is what makes them champions, the willingness to go further and try new things. Who knows, maybe Ido Portal’s methods aren’t bad for fighters? The training is certainly intense and if McGregor had shut Diaz down, we would be having a different conversation.

McGregor’s post-fight self-analysis seems accurate to me. He wasn’t efficient, Nate Diaz was, especially on the ground. Last night I watched all of The Ultimate Fighter Season 5 and I’ll say this, Diaz learned the right shit from the Gracies.

It’s not that McGregor isn’t a strong puncher, either. Fighters at 170 lbs, and Diaz in particular, can eat more damage. A potential contributing  factor most people aren’t discussing is that neither fighter went through a heavy weight cut. It could be the case that McGregor experienced what it was like to hit a fighter who hadn’t been starving himself while dehydrating his brain all week. Could McGregor have knocked Diaz out at 155? Maybe.

Fabiano Scherner v Roy Nelson
Roy Nelson’s weight cut protocol is rarely discussed.

I’ll be curious to see what adjustments McGregor makes for his next fight. There’s nothing like a big fat L to motivate you. One of the things I appreciate about him is he’s focused on fighting. He’s not trying to launch an energy drink, or get on Law & Order, or do a duet with Mariah Carrey. He’s here to catch fools lacking.

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