Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kyle Maynard

I have a feeling this video is just beginning its swine flu-like ascent up the WHO scale of viral transmission. (I guess this post could be considered my personal contribution to the pandemic--an infected specimen's small, uncovered cough into the sweat-scented communal air of the interwebs, as it were.)

Unlike some stranger cases, to which reasonable men should have been immune, the Maynard fight virus sports a bit of DNA custom built for internet incubation: the "holy shit, did you see that?" gene. (Incidentally, those individuals who carry two recessives of this characteristic--creatures many refer to handily as "mouthbreathers"--often wind up party to backyard incidents involving alcohol, video cameras, and modified firearms. For the Darwinians among you: a peek at an active petri dish. Essentially, if the House of Romanov had a frat hall, these would be the pledges.)

But back to Mr. Maynard. I will be neither the first nor the last to praise the man's spirit. Maynard suffers from congenital amputation of all four limbs, meaning he has no hands or forearms and no feet or shins. Considering that half of the game is striking and that submissions depend heavily on applied leverage, his stepping into an MMA cage fight is equivalent to an outlaw gruffly thumbing the edge of his Bowie knife before heading over to the O.K. Corral. We Americans, as the esteemed T. Pynchon elucidates, succinctly refer to this type of folk as a "badass."

That said, I'm guessing that I will be one of the few who viewed this particular parade and felt a sad duty to go piddle all over the giant balloons. Badass though it may be, when you scrub the manly patina off that outlaw metaphor, the poor guy is basically bringing a knife to a gunfight. Military strategists have a word for a person who knowingly enters an engagement at a severe disadvantage and, I hate to say, it's not a compliment. Maynard looks less like a man trying to prove himself and more like a man with something to prove.


(And a word to Brian Frye, the able-bodied gentleman scurrying la cucaracha-style around the purlieus: unless you're planning to market yourself as the Reggie Strickland of ultimate fighting, then punctuating your nervous circuits around the ring with the occasional half-hearted jab not only looks cowardly against an opponent who lacks both fists and feet with which to strike back, what's worse, it smells suspiciously of revulsion. Maynard was man enough to step into the ring in spite of a clear debility; respect him enough to knock his block off. For reals, don't be some kind of pussy. Kthxbye!)

The true feel-good story here, I do believe, belongs less to Maynard and more to mixed martial arts itself. MMA at the moment is smack dab in the hormone-addled center of its growth spurt into a legitimate sport. I think the message the Auburn Fight Night organizers sent to the rest of the world is exactly right: any person of sound mind and body (and yes, Maynard qualifies; he could probably crush a mouthbreather's can o' Bud between those shoulder muscles) can compete against any other person of similar basic adequacy, and do so safely. And notice that that sentence is gender neutral. Women's leagues are sprouting just as quickly as men's.

Whatever his motivations, Maynard honored the sport by stepping into the cage despite an astounding disability, and the event organizers honored the sport by ignoring the disability entirely. As camp counselors would say after a particularly spirited round of boot tossing, everyone's a winner!

The down side is that this includes Brian Frye. If they could scrounge up someone with a foot to finally kick that dude's ass we'd be all set.

No comments: