According to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, by rolling a die you open up at least six potential future timelines but unless you are Luke Rhinehart, the appearance of a six instead of a three probably won’t affect your life. However if you were a stockbroker, there’s every chance using a die to decide which stocks to buy and sell could improve your career. It certainly couldn’t hurt. “But what does this have to do with MMA?” I hear you cry. Well, if there’s one thing the MiddleEasy staff love to talk about more than MMA, it's food. If there are two things; they are food and science fiction. After discussing the many-worlds theory we wondered what would happen when you combine a fighter’s unflinching confidence that they will win with the infinite possibilities in a multiverse. With the Bellator season six middleweight tournament just around the corner, we are provided the perfect opportunity to examine each fighter as if they existed in their own self-determined universe before watching these bubble universes collide on live television. There are eight fighters in the tournament so at least eight possible futures opened up when the matches were made. Through the magic of imagination, we’re there; the fighters are in the cage and we join them for the post fight announcements.
Perhaps in another universe Maiquel Falcao isn’t released from the UFC for reasons relating to his 2002 assault, things could be very different. That's a thought experiment for another day however; right now we're concerned with the potential parallel universes which stem from this tournament. In this timeline, the crowd roars as one-time UFC fighter Maiquel Falcao’s hand is raised with Jimmy Lennon Jr.’s distinctive voice in the background. “What a fight!” yells Sean Wheelock before passing over to his broadcasting partner Jimmy Smith inside the cage. After the obligatory replay of his first round knockout victory, Jimmy Smith asks Falcao who he would prefer to fight next in his bracket. Upon hearing from his translator what Smith has asked him, Falcao, with a focus only on honey replies, “I don’t care. I want Hector Lombard”, and walks out of the cage. The outcome of the fight could have been predicted, given his record of winning almost all of his fights in the first round by knockout. Calling out the Bellator middleweight champion? Not so much.
Maybe it was the unanimous decision win over former WEC champion Paulo Filho. Perhaps the Cage Warriors 43 KO win over Jack Mason did it. Whatever it was, at some point after losing to Dave Menne back at Bellator 34 Norman Paraisy stopped being known as “that French guy from TUF” and started being seen as a genuine threat. Standing in the centre of the cage with his arm raised, visibly drained from the grueling three-round ground battle he has just won by unanimous decision, he gets the respect of the fans. In retrospect, maybe he shouldn’t have gone for that flying knee which had led to him being taken down and probably losing the third round but nonetheless, he’s just eliminated one of the favourites to win this tournament. Whoever he drawn next, he knows that he’s gone one stage further than most people predicted.
Although this sport as known as mixed martial arts, with proponents often emphasizing the ‘mixed’ aspect, it’s rare to see a 2nd degree BJJ black belt with the calm and patient striking of Vitor Vianna but then again, he is the main training partner for Wanderlei Silva. This makes opponents wary of both striking with him and taking him down. The post-fight replay shown to the crowd enforces this, as we see Brian Rogers’s strategy of pressing Vianna into the cage and dirty boxing his way to victory backfire in the second round.. A simple inside trip brings Rogers to the ground and in the ensuing scramble Vianna takes his back in a snake-like transition. Making it look easy, as if he was Ryan Hall fighting a drunken restaurant patron, Vianna sinks in a rear naked choke. As this replay loops, an emotional Vitor Vianna tells Jimmy Smith that he wants to finish what he started in season five by winning the tournament and taking the belt back to Wand Fight Team.
“In some ways, this fight is very similar to your season five fight with Victor O’Donnell” yells Jimmy Smith, his arm around Brian Rogers’ shoulder. “You’ve come out aggressive, thrown Vitor in to the cage with your power whizzer and eventually forced the referee to stop this fight giving you your eighth first round win by knockout. How do you feel?”
“My last fight with Victor O’Donnell had a lot of haters saying it was a bad stoppage, and that I’d have lost if the referee didn’t end the fight short. I want to prove them wrong. Here’s hoping Victor can win tonight so I can meet him in the semi-finals” Rogers is visibly pumped by the win, and the camera follows him down the aisle back to the dressing room as he slaps hands with fans and celebrates earning $25,000 for less than five minutes in the cage.
Winning the M-1 Global light heavyweight strap is one thing, but to move down a division and try to win the Bellator middleweight tournament is a completely different challenge. Still slick with sweat, his sponsor’s t-shirt still only half covering him, Vyacheslav Vasilevsyn has belied the expectations people may have had based on his age by outlasting Victor O’Donnell. While troubled early by the aggression of O’Donnell, the 23-year-old Russian found his rhythm in the second round and controlled the rest of the fight by moving in and out of range, firing off stiff jabs to keep his opponent at bay and at a number of points backing him up with sloppy but effective one-two combinations. Concluding his post-fight interview he tells Jimmy Smith that he must now have his hand raised three more times before his Bellator journey is finished. As he walks out of the cage, Sean Wheelock reminds us that this was a solid display of striking from an international master of sport in Sambo and a Judo brown belt in his first fight on American soil.
Victor O’Donnell has been given a second chance to progress in a Bellator middleweight tournament after being eliminated by Brian Rogers in last year’s quarter-finals and after this victory, he is visibly excited at the prospect of avenging this loss in the semi-finals. Holding Jimmy Smith tight, he explains how he transitioned to the fight winning armbar after being thrown by Vasilevsyn with a rarely seen drop seoi nage as the footage is slowed down and displayed on the big screens in the arena and for the viewers at home. His face lights up like a three year old being presented with a huge slice of chocolate cake as Jimmy mentions Brian Rogers’ name. “This isn’t about Rogers, this is about me” he tells the crowd. “I want to fight for that belt and if Brian’s in my way, I see him as just another obstacle in my way”. Strong words follow a strong performance and the viewers at home are treated to another viewing of his armbar victory before the commercials kick in again.
Thirteen wins by armbar in an eighteen-fight long MMA career has qualified Givanildo Santana to be known as “the arm collector.” All but one of these armbar victories have come in the first round. It wasn’t as if nobody seen this coming. Bruno Santos came into the fight with a 12-0 record but left with his first loss to a first round armbar. Before the outcome is made official, the camera pans across the crowd before stopping on a fan with a home-made sign on which is penned “all your arm are belong to us”, bringing laughter from the commentary booth and everyone at home who played Zero Wing. The reigning Tachi Palace Fights middleweight champion stands in the centre of the cage with his arm raised, and likely not for the last time in this tournament. He looks defiant, as if he is saying to the rest of the middleweight fighters “your arm has no chance to survive, make your time.”
Bruno Santos The “Schrödinger's cat" paradox can be seen as a simplified version of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics in which each outcome results in the creation of a separate universe so as to accommodate for the uncertainty of both a dead and a live cat inside the box. Bruno Santos has no care for this type of paradox after winning his tenth fight in a row by unanimous decision. Entering each fight, Santos knows how the fight will end; with the referee throwing his arm in the air. Even fighting three men in one night couldn’t put a stop to his decision winning spree. For Santos, each fight is not the branch point for the birth of as many different universes as there are potential outcomes because there are no other potential outcomes. He has just beaten Giva Santana by unanimous decision and the only variable he sees in his next fight is the opponent.
So, that’s just one of the many outcomes for each fighter in the Bellator middleweight tournament. The beauty of this is that we won’t know which potential timeline real life will follow, and which ones will float off alone as theoretical quantum mechanical constructs. I guess we’ll all just have to tune into MTV2 on Friday night to see which branch of reality the middleweight tournament finds itself on.