By Jeremy Pinnell & Kevin Broughton
The first weekend of March brings martial arts fans a much-awaited Pay Per View and the return of a legend to the UFC octagon…
Wait! What’s this? Some breaking news? Hold on…
KB: Let's start off with the "music" portion this week, because we've got an award winner up in here! When I peeped your tour dates before our last edition, I noticed a Memphis gig for the Ameripolitan Awards. For folks who don't know, these awards are the brainchild of Dale Watson and fall into three broad categories: honky tonk, rockabilly and outlaw. And who walked away with the "Male Honky Tonk" prize? Our very own grappler/songwriter/journalist!
You're in some high cotton, buddy, so congratulations. I have to ask first: Did you have an inkling you were the winner when you booked the gig? In any case, how much does this honor -- bestowed by your peers -- mean to you?
JP: It was a cool experience; I’ve always been a huge fan of Dale’s. I didn’t think I’d win, so I didn’t even have a speech prepared. Maybe next time, if there is one. I’m not one for fancy stuff and getting dolled up (KB – “Say it ain’t so!”) but it was a neat experience and I’m very grateful to be a part of. We went to Graceland, which is a trap, bro. DO NOT GO, unless it’s not busy and you’re not on a time schedule. We had Checkers for post celebration dinner and KFC twice. So, we didn’t starve.
KB: Before we look ahead to this week's pay per view, UFC 284 featured a super fight for the ages. Nobody -- you and me included -- expected anything other than a finish by Islam Makhachev over Alex Volkanovski. Lo and behold, Alex took him the distance; and two of three judges had Volk winning two rounds out of five. What a fight; Alex is the toughest sumbitch in the UFC. Change my mind.
JP: Alex is tight. It was such a great fight; I couldn’t look away. Makhachev’s wrestling didn’t look as sound as people put on. He’s no Khabib. His stand up didn’t look bad, but Volk is a tank. I loved that fight; probably gonna watch it again.
KB: We have a highly anticipated main event for UFC 285, but before that let's talk about an up-and-comer in the first bout of the main card. Bo Nickal was a phenomenal wrestler (184 lbs.) at Penn State. He barely missed making the Olympic team, and was the Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year in 2018, when that conference produced nine first-team All-Americans in football and four NBA first-round picks.
Nickal won his contract on "The Dana White Contenders Series," and I'm finding it hard to stay off the hype train. He's a -2000 favorite over journeyman middleweight Jamie Pickett, meaning for a bettor to win $100, he must risk two grand. He certainly has the look of a star in the making; what will you look for in his big-stage debut?
JP: I mean he’s a wrestler, I watched him hitting the pads and it seems like something is off. I’m not on the hype train. I’m curious to see what he’ll do.
KB: Hmm. I’ll remember this when you try to climb on the train later. And of course, we have the long-awaited return to the octagon for Jonny "Bones" Jones, easily one of the two or three greatest mixed martial artists of all time. It's been three years since Jones has fought, and he's moved up to heavyweight from 205. He's a slight betting favorite over Cyril Gane, a silky-smooth, athletic striker – and two-time world Muay Thai champ -- who's finished some top heavyweights like Black Beast Lewis and Bam Bam Tuivasa.
Lots of wildcards in this fight; what will you be watching for, JP? Also, we’ve got a women’s flyweight title: Valentina “The Bullet” Shevchenko will defend her strap.
JP: Honestly I’m stoked to see Jon fight. Gane is an animal. I might buy this pay per view. Stoked about the bullet fight. She’s fun to watch.
KB: It's been a while since we've asked you for a musical recommendation, Honky Tonk King. You still in a techno-pop groove? What's in your rotation these days?
JP: I’ve been listening to Mariel Buckley. She has a record called Everywhere I Used to Be. It’s pretty tight. Also, I’ve been listening a little to Mightmare, (a Sarah Shook side project) which is good. I haven’t fully dug in.