By Kevin Broughton and Jeremy Pinnell
The Ultimate Fighting Championship takes its pay-per-view show on the road – to Salt Lake City, not a city typically associated with legalized violence – this weekend, so your humble correspondents are back to talk fightin’, singin’, and maybe other stuff. Let’s go…
KB: So, we’ve got UFC 278 this weekend, and I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s not an electrifying card. I think Leon Edwards has earned his shot at the belt, but it’s not a compelling main event. You don’t like doing predictions, but I will squeeze you for one pick: In which round do Luke Rockhold and his glass jaw go to sleep?
JP: The card isn’t super exciting, but Edwards and Usman are elite fighters. I guarantee it’ll be a good fight. And I’ll take Costa over Rockhold.
KB: Hmm. I don’t think Luke makes it to Round 2.
There are a couple of non-UFC 278 stories brewing below the surface, though. The Nigerian Nightmare – with Leon Edwards on his calendar this weekend – is already talking about a move up two weight classes, to 205. (He says he has no interest in fighting his buddy Adesanya at middleweight; understandable.) Here’s a hypothetical for you: It’s been obvious for a while now that the 205 division isn’t exactly loaded. If Usman were to jump to 205 and win that belt, isn’t he in the all-time GOAT conversation, if not the one himself? Thoughts?
JP: Kamaru Usman would be a monster at 205. He’s already a spectacle in the octagon, but he lacks charisma. He’s not really likeable, which in unfortunate. Edwards, however, has the story: Overcoming a tough upbringing to find mixed martial arts, and rising to become an elite UFC star. If you’re boring, no one cares.
KB: I’m not saying he’s the reason Usman might move up to light heavyweight, but there’s this a beast working his way up the 170 ladder right now, Khazmat Chimaev. He’s kind of scary, and by kind of, I mean terrifying.
I think his only fight that’s been out of the first round was a unanimous decision over Gilbert Burns, himself a monster.
So what does Dana White do? Matches him with Nate Diaz at UCF 279 next month…on the last fight of Nate’s current UFC contract. I hope Nate gets paid; why do you think Dana White wants him dead?
JP: Chimaev’s first real fight was Burns, and it was a brawl; probably his first real challenging fight in the UFC. Nate was the money fight. As an entertainment aspect, it was a solid choice. Nate has the tank and Chimaev has energy, but how long can he last? Gonna be entertaining.
KB: Back in the Spring, you sang the National Anthem before a Reds game. My choir does it every summer at (whatever the Braves' park is currently called.)
Jeremy sings the National Anthem (TikTok)
We have a dude on the front row who turns around and blows a pitch pipe, so we start off on-key.
(a) Were you nervous?
(b) You were on-pitch the entire time; had you practiced, and was there a key you were doing it in?
(c) Was that your first time doing the Anthem in a big setting? And,
(d) For Kentucky musicians, I’d guess “the Anthem at a Reds game” would fall just below “the Anthem at Rupp,” which has to trail only “My Old Kentucky Home at The Derby.” Do I have that right?
JP: I was very nervous. I get nervous whenever I’m playing -- because I care -- but that nervousness is different. My throat went dry (ha ha.) I was shaking. It wasn’t pleasant, but it made my family really happy and that’s why I did it. And I don’t know if I’d want to do it again unless it was Rupp or the derby.
KB: As we close things out…I’ve been begging you to listen to some new music for a while now. I was delighted when you sent me a Spotify link to a band I’d never heard of, Goose Creek Symphony.
Which is odd, because they were formed in 1968. It’s like a different version of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The album you sent (“Welcome To Goose Creek”) debuted just a quarter-century ago. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” What drew you to this “new” old band? Do you know any of these dudes? I know there’s a Kentucky contingent. Have you played with them?
JP: So, my buddy Arlo sent me that record a few months back and it reminded me of The Band a little. I dig it, and no, I don’t know these motherfuckers but I dig their sound. And Kevin, I didn’t want to tell you, but I’ve been diving back in the music. So maybe next card we can talk a little about it?
KB: Sounds like a plan.