I knew it was serious when my girlfriend started to cry.
As I watched Sam Morgan lay on his back, doing his best to find the center of his world after having it knocked out of him by Luke Cummo, I heard a sniffle begin.
Sam laid there and started to think. After a few seconds, he knew.
“I didn’t make it.”
Though it was sad to see Sam lose the fight and the contract, I’ve got to disagree.
Didn’t make it? No, Sam. I’m the one who didn’t make it. My readers are the ones who didn’t make it. Thousands of aspiring fighters are the ones who didn’t make it. You? You did us all proud.
So as my girl and Sam (hell, even me a bit) let the tears flow, I began to appreciate the situation. Sam, in an attempt to wow Dana and every other person who would eventually set their eyes on this fight, went out willing to lose in order to win. Crazy? No, I call it perceptive.
Like a mixture of Wanderlei and Genki, Sam leaped and brawled his way into MMA consciousness.
Not that the man who knocked out former K-1 MAX fighter Duane “Bang” Ludwig in a minute and some change needed a coming out party.
The fight itself was a blur of fists and near sub attempts. Limbs, hands and feet streaked and impacted on screen with great velocity almost every other second.
At one point, one of the two times I thought Sam had the fight won, Sam hit Luke with one of the cleanest right hooks I’ve ever seen in this competition. Reeling from the blow, Luke threw what looked like some sort of modified Capoeira kick, needing to place his hand on the ground to keep from losing his legs.
But, defiant and tough, Luke fought back, landing a number of staggering punches before kneeing Sam cleanly in the face and knocking him out.
And just like that, one of the few fights this year to end without help from three unbiased watchers, Luke had won a spot in the finals.
Props to Matt Hughes for seeing Sam’s despair and acting wisely after the knockout, explaining to Sam that he had lost “in every way imaginable”, and that everyone fails at one time or another in this sport (Fedor’s time will come one day. Ok, it might come).
The only difference between champions and the rest? The champs get back up.
So, like the Anaheim Angels or the Red Sox, Sam must regroup in order to get back in the chase.
Luke, like the White Sox, now has a chance to win something NO ONE thought he had a chance to.
Is it fun flying under the radar? I’m sure Luke doesn’t mind.
Is it frustrating to have people make fun of your lifestyle because it’s different from theirs? Sure, but Luke doesn’t care.
Remember when Mike Whitehead laughed at you for facing the east when you sleep? I’m sure he does.
Just think about what happened to Mike, and I’m sure you’ll figure out Luke’s response.
What does this mean for the show?
The bar has been set.
Every fight that follows, both the semis and the finals, will find itself posturing up, trying to reach the shoulder level of Monday’s fight. Will they live up to the hype?
I doubt it.
Much like Bonnar vs. Forrest last season, such entertaining clashes are few and far between. But as fans, we can hope.
I’ll look forward to Monday and Tuesday’s fights, but I’ll also look back, tipping my Sox hat to Sam Morgan and Luke Cummo.
It is sacrifices like theirs that make this sport. It’s the fights where the souls come out that really make you believe.
You want to see perseverance? You want excellence under adversity? Skip the History channel. The Ultimate Fighter 2 has enough to spare.
Photos used with permission by the UFC®.