YAMMA Pit Fighting – 10 Years Later

On the streets its against the law, in the pit it is the law.

First, it is important to note that I consider this subject to be entirely accounted for. Nothing I can or will write here can top what Jake Rossen wrote about this event and so I encourage you to click that link and read that story. If you happen to return to this site to continue reading, thank you, but I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t.

Also, if you want to watch the event, which I would both highly recommend and highly discourage, you can watch the whole thing here.

I wanted to write something that got to the heart of YAMMA,  that got to why, despite being a dismal failure on almost every level, it still captures some piece of the MMA zeitgeist. I didn’t have the words for it. I tried, and maybe someday I’ll be able to explain it, but for now I’ll attempt to explain it through synecdoche. Perhaps through the examination of the most YAMMA fight, I can get to the essence of YAMMA.

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We open up with a video package for Mark Kerr. Nothing particularly of note is said, but, for me anyway, there is always a profound sense of sadness behind listening to Mark Kerr speak. He was truly a phenom in the early days of MMA, and while time and the evolution of the sport would have caught up to him, he could have been so much more in the sport than he ended up being. You can see a lot of that in The Smashing Machine, but here 6 years after that documentary, things still do not appear to being well for him.

Kerr enters the YAMMA, but apparently his gloves aren’t taped, which is the sort of thing that could only happen on an event like this.

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We then see a video package on Oleg Taktarov. In some ways,  he is the exact opposite of Mark Kerr. He had his run in MMA, left when the time was right, did other things, and has come back because he wants to see if he still has it, whereas Kerr seems like a guy who is fighting because there’s nothing else he can do.

Taktarov comes out in an absolutely spectacular robe as the announcers talk about his acting career. They claim he is a top 3 actor in Russia, which I doubt highly, but they list some of the movies Oleg has been in, and you know what, I’ve heard of most of them, which is more than you can see for Rich Franklin and whatever cyborg movie he was in with Kelly Kapowski.

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SCOTT FERRELL IS HERE. The real star of the show, the main reason, in my mind, that this show is as memorable as it is. I guess he was a sports radio guy of some note, and the YAMMA people thought it would be a great idea to let this guy who sounds like he sucks swords for fun go up there and riff. They were right.

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Ferrall calls this a “beautiful matchup of warriors and freaks ready to pound and dance.” I’ll agree with the freaks part, but everything else is spurious at best. As a sentence, I can only think of a few more beautiful, as a description of this fight, I cannot abide it.

There is an issue with the broadcast being heard over the arena speakers throughout this whole show and we get intermittent examples of it here, and of all the embarrassing things that happen on this show, that technical gaffe doesn’t rank in the top 20.

Bruce Beck, who is the best by the way, mentions that this fight is being contested as a part of the Master’s Division. Master’s of what I’m sure, perhaps they hold advance degrees that I’m not aware of, I have one that I don’t really use, maybe I should see if any other promotions are running similar divisions, I’d love to fight some MFAs if possible.

The fight starts with inconsequential strikes thrown early, John Peretti mentions that Mark Kerr used to have a good right leg kick, but posits that he might not have it anymore. Did he pawn it? Was it stolen? These questions are still unanswered. Kerr eventually shoots for and completes a single leg takedown.

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From here, Kerr looks to reposition Taktarov and place him on the sloped walls of the YAMMA. Kerr manages to unload some strikes from here, but the are mostly ineffectiveand Taktarov is able to shuffle himself toward a more flat portion of the YAMMA and eventually bring the fight back standing.

Back on their feet, nothing happens for a few seconds and then Kerr uncorks a right hand and drops Taktarov. Kerr is in Taktorv’s full guard on a sloped portion of the YAMMA, but Taktarov is able to regain his composure, and circle to the flatter portion of the YAMMA.

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From here, Taktarov first threatens for an armbar, which causes Kerr to stand up from the guard. Taktarov then is able to roll for a kneebar and finish the fight at 1:55 of Round 1.

And so end’s YAMMA’s first Master’s Division fight. All in all, not entirely depressing, Kerr lost but didn’t get brutalized and Taktarov acquitted himself nicely. Not a great fight, but nothing offensive either. There are certainly some very YAMMA moments here, but there is still something missing. Maybe it is the single appearance of Scott Ferrall, who in extended doses becomes both grating and increasingly charming.

Perhaps YAMMA is the sort of thing you can only experience from viewing the whole event, the accumulation of missteps and bad to barely mediocre fights might culminate in a feeling that can’t be accomplished from viewing one fight, I don’t know. All that I know it that on the streets its against the law, in the pit it is the law.

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