I tuned into Wednesday’s UFC Fight for the Troops 3 event at the end of the Lorenz Larkin vs. Chris Camozzi fight as highlights from the bout were being shown on the UFC’s high-speed phantom camera. Slow-motion images shot at 20,000 frames per second showed Camozzi’s bloody face taking elbows and punches at speeds incomprehensible to the human eye. And I’ve got to say, I thoroughly enjoy this added super slow-mo look at fights that has become common practice in recent fight broadcasts.

What stands out most to me is how the phantom cam displays how brutally hard fighters are being hit. As someone who rarely misses most MMA events, perhaps I’ve become desensitized to the violence I so often witness. When the action is slowed down and showcased on replays, I’m reminded how it can seem unappealing to the uninitiated. For us hardcore fans, we can quickly read a display of skill and the theatrics in each fight, impatiently sitting through commercials waiting for the next one to be rolled out while we tirelessly refresh our social media.

Having the phantom cam is akin to us taking the time to stop and smell the roses. When you see the full impact of a kick to a fighter’s stomach and how the impact causes ripples to shoot through their body, and how their face slowly comes to exhibit the coming pain, a squeamish response isn’t so hard to understand. That’s because we really get to see their pain played out, which allows us to better relate to how hard fighters are really going after each other. Their efforts and sacrifices to please our entitled appetites for violence might be more significant than we realize at first glance.

As I watched the flowing crimson fly off of Camozzi’s face in brilliant red chunks as Larkin’s elbow crashed into his head from off camera, it made me give a slight squint at seeing him take such a beating. But I’ve also got to admit that seeing such violence broken down by the camera is also pretty awesome.

Once again, the phantom cam proves to be a welcome addition to UFC events. It allows the viewing audience to join in the collective “oohs” and “awes” that accompany ballets of violence. And it also highlights the fact that fights are more brutal than they appear, or that we give them credit for being.

Now, I like a good, positive MMA story, something that personally inspires me through vicarious achievement and is made all the better because it comes from real life. To me, Derek Brunson is writing his own feel-good story at the moment.

He was a fighter that was winning decisions on Strikeforce Challengers cards years back. Brunson consistently showed great skills and promise as he faced better competition, but he wasn’t a fighter that fans really rallied behind. In fact, he’s one who I often saw being mocked pretty ruthlessly online. Whether it was for his wrestle-heavy fight style or his personality, it didn’t seem like fans were ready to embrace him. Add a highlight-reel knockout at the hands of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, with Brunson serving as the man that Souza used to impressively showcase his growth in striking, and things began to look bleak for Brunson’s future as Strikeforce crept closer to its end.

Yet, Brunson was afforded the opportunity to face one of the UFC’s most popular fighters last December when the UFC needed a replacement against Chris Leben at UFC 155. Brunson made a significant splash into a wider MMA fan consciousness by outworking a tired Leben en route to a unanimous decision victory. It might not have been a pretty fight, but Leben is a great resume builder for any fighter working their way up in the middleweight division.

Now, after almost a full year off due to injury, Brunson returned to record his quickest win since the first half of his professional career. Brunson blasted Brian Houston with a head kick and quickly followed his staggered opponent to the mat with a fight-ending rear-naked choke. It was an impressive performance to open the event and got the crowd warmed up for the night’s action.

It’s nice to see a fighter from Strikeforce that at first received such a lukewarm reception now have two wins, each with its own impressive qualities, in the UFC. It’s yet to be seen how far Brunson’s momentum will carry him in the promotion, but his work on Wednesday is something that should be celebrated and savored for the culmination of his career up to this point.

Brunson is a fighter that should be taken a little more seriously by a number fans now. He is a fighter that can be very proud of where his work has taken him in the sport up to this point. It’s something that can be looked at as an inspirational story in how not being accepted by onlookers doesn’t mean much if you’re seizing the opportunities that come to you.

How about the “controversial” decision that referee John McCarthy made in the Bobby Green vs. James Krause fight?

Twice, Green kicked Krause in the groin, halting the match. The first time, Green got a clear warning from McCarthy. On the second instance, McCarthy took a point from Green. He led Green back to his corner and firmly told him to keep his kicks legal, not allowing Green to excuse himself, and ensured that Green fully understood his orders. Then, it seemingly happened again, or so we thought. Krause fell quickly to the ground after taking a kick that bordered on the lower abdomen and the cup. At that point, McCarthy waived off the fight.

Green was sure that he had just lost the fight and threw his arms up in protest, but the ref actually ruled the fight as a technical knockout win for Green. It was Krause’s turn to be confused, and he worked his way through the pain to the realization that the fight was over and he was the loser. The crowd was up and down on what to think about the call at first, but the replays showed that the kick was legal, or at least borderline.

Any time that a referee or judge is perceived as making a fight-changing mistake, they find themselves at the center of a blame-a-thon for what’s wrong with MMA. McCarthy’s clear directions in response to Green’s low blows and then his confident call to end the fight with Green as the winner was an excellent example of mature MMA refereeing. It was a bizarre outcome, but one where we can point out the positives of the job done by the third person inside the Octagon.

In all, it was a solid card from top to bottom. Sure, the talent was middling compared to other, bigger UFC events, but the talent wasn’t the main focus as much so as was our military and veterans suffering the ill effects of combat. And guess what, the next UFC event will be upon us in just a few days. That’s a rapid pace, as well as more fighter storylines than most will care to follow.

So, remember to slow down and enjoy the little positive realities that we can take away from such events. Because when the next stinker of an event comes through, you’re likely going to get an earful that drowns out the smaller, but still intriguing stories.

Photo: Bobby Green (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

David Massey
Staff Writer

David Massey studied Humanities and Art History at the University of Central Oklahoma. He first found interest in MMA from the first TUF show and has been hooked ever since. He began posting on mmajunkie then submitting Sunday Junkie entries and that began his interest in writing about MMA. Through twitter David found other MMA enthusiasts and began contributing articles to marqueemma.com. He looks forward to growing as a writer and being a part of the sport he loves.