This isn’t our first venture into this obscure land, a place where your favorite television characters shipwreck into the MMA world. Earlier this year we created a feature entitled ‘Game of Featherweights‘ in which Bellator’s featherweight tournament collided with HBO’s Game of Thrones. The official Twitter account of Game of Thrones retweeted our creation and even gave us a digital pat on the back for our efforts. However, nothing from Bellator. Bummer.
The fact is, we don’t do this for the approval of our favorite television shows or MMA promotions. We just love altering typeface and applying it to our favorite logos, as well as assembling absolutely absurd character references and weaving them with MMA fighters that we love to watch beat other MMA fighters.
Without further ado, behold ‘Breaking Bantamweights‘ our breakdown of ONE FC’s imminent bantamweight tournament merged with the greatest show on television, Breaking Bad.
The aging high school chemistry teacher that abruptly has a firm grasp on his reality when he discovers that he’s been diagnosed with lung cancer. To provide a future for his family after his departure, Walter White teams up with his former student to manufacture crystal meth and sell it on the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Although you may initially believe that it will take an astronomically far stretch to connect the life of Walter White to that of the former UFC lightweight champion, Jens Pulver — however the similarities are fairly striking.
In Walter White’s post-graduate career, he teamed up with his former roommate to create a laboratory called ‘Grey Matter.’ As with all start-up companies, things were a little bit rough in the beginning and Walter White decided to sell his share of the company for $5,000. Now flash forward a couple decades, in Breaking Bad we find that his former partner developed ‘Grey Matter’ into a multi-billion dollar company. Walter White pulled the plug entirely too soon on what could have set him up for the rest of his life.
When Jens Pulver left the UFC in 2002, some consider this a misstep in Lil Evil’s MMA career, which delayed his UFC return until much later in his career. While Jens Pulver earned a few accolades in Japan, MMA fans believe that if he would have stayed with the UFC for the duration of his MMA career, he had the chance to be the ‘Rich Franklin’ of the lightweight division — the UFC poster boy and go-to guy in the case of any last-minute emergency.
Now both Walter White and Jens Pulver are focused not on temporary returns, but building an empire in their respective fields. In fact with Jens, he’s already established his empire in World of Warcraft — and it’s pretty damn awesome.
We’ve seen Jens Pulver approach MMA as a cold, calculated killer, not unlike Walter White and his rise to his nefarious alter-ego Heissenberg. Throughout the senseless murdering and innumerable heists, family always remains important for Walter White, as it does for Jens Pulver. Walter White is dedicated. Jens Pulver is driven — hell, he even has a movie about it. In the opening round of the ONE FC bantamweight tournament, Jens Pulver will take on China’s Zhao Ya Fei in a battle for 135 lb supremacy. We’ll be eagerly watching to see how Walter White fares in this new obstacle.
If Breaking Bad was a side-scrolling video game, Tuco Salamanca would undoubtedly be the first level boss Walter White and Jessie Pinkman encounter throughout their adventure. Armed with an incredibly short temper and an array of weapons that would even make Rambo blush, Tuco serves as a legitimate threat to the protagonists earlier on in Breaking Bad (although the issue of who the protagonists truly are is still up for debate).
Tuco Salamanca is known as a wild-card in the Mexican drug cartel, often killing his own men to enforce his perspective on others. He’s young, ruthless at his craft and feared among his peers — just like ONE FC bantamweight Min Jung Song.
He’s a rising 145 lb prospect from South Korea, and like his Breaking Bad counterpart, Min Jung Song tends to fight haphazardly. While his record doesn’t necessarily reflect the sheer entertainment he brings to any bout, we’re expecting Min Jung Song to come into ONE FC: Rise of Kings fight against Masakatsu Ueda like some raving meth-addicted cartel guy and slinging whatever he can at his opponent in the shortest amount of time.
If ever there was an award for someone that gives into the faith of their companion only to be victimized by it later on, it would surely go to Walter White’s sidekick, Jessie Pinkman. One would be hard-pressed to find a character in modern television that has been (and continues to be) on the hard end of a seemingly endless chain of deception and lies.
In Breaking Bad, we see the seemingly gullible Pinkman perpetually fall into a trap of untruths, often rooted from Walter White’s selfish desires. From the murdering of Gus’ meth scientist, Gale Boetticher, to that now infamous plant scene that served as the end of season 4, Pinkman has transformed from a bright-eyed meth cook to a docile human being that collapses under even a microscopic evidence of peer pressure.
Or perhaps we have it all wrong.
Jessie Pinkman could be giving into the wishes of Walter White not because he’s actively taking a passive role in his own life, but could it be that Pinkman vehemently believes in White so much that he’s willing to risk everything in order to attain the reality that Walter aspires for?
In the same way that Pinkman looks up to Walter for acceptance, ONE FC bantamweight Kevin Belingon also looks up to his camp at Team Lakay in the Philippines for that same approval. Team Lakay (which essentially means ‘Team Brother’) is an extremely tight-knit crew that emerged out of the Philippines nearly a decade ago. Since their inception, teammates at Lakay rely on the rugged terrain of the Philippines for their conditioning — including arduous hikes through the hills and jungles of the Philippines. Jessie Pinkman also finds solace in his environment, albeit it the urban jungles of some of the seeder parts of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Throughout Breaking Bad, we’re seeing the sum of Jessie Pinkman’s actions reach towards a certain goal. Will Kevin Belingon imitate his Breaking Bad counterpart and reach the goal of being the ONE FC bantamweight champion? We’ll find out on October 6th at ONE FC: Rise of Kings.
Sure it may seem bizarre to compare Masakatsu Ueda to an elderly man confined to a wheelchair armed with the might of a small bell attached to his arm rest. However, keep in mind that you’re currently reading MiddleEasy, a zone in which all possibilities could hypothetically occur with enough consideration.
In our research on Masakatsu Ueda we haven’t found a single English interview from any online MMA news source. He keeps quiet, yet he observes the situation around him, and then violently acts — like when he knocked out Rumina Sato with a body kick at Shooto – Shooter’s Legacy 3 last year. Of course this is also similar to our wheelchair-bound friend, Hector Salamanca.
In Breaking Bed, Hector Salamanca serves as a rather mute high-level member of the Mexican drug cartel. A once strong muscle of the cartel and well-known international drug distributor, Salamanca is now relegated to a wheelchair and is forced to be nursed by his nephew, Tuco Salamanca.
Masakatsu Ueda become a decorated wrestler in college, even defeating Kid Yamamoto, and went on to hold several titles in collegiate combat sports. Holding an impressive record of 15-2 with wins over Royler Gracie and Eduardo Dantas, Ueda just may be the silent, dark horse of the ONE FC bantamweight tournament.
As we all remember, Hector Salamanca went out with an absolute bang on season 4 of Breaking Bad, let’s see if Masakatsu Ueda will do the same in the bantamweight tournament at ONE FC: Rise of Kings.
What Skinny Pete lacks in experience in the industry he’s in, he makes up for in loyalty and his ability to listen to the best. Naturally, the same can be applied to emerging ONE FC bantamweight tournament participant, Zhao Ya Fei. He hails from Henan, China — the home of the Shaolin Temple. Yes, the same one that Wu-Tang Clan has endlessly rapped about for nearly two decades. It’s also important to note that without Wesley’s help from The Fight Nation, I would have never known that pertinent information.
In Breaking Bad, Skinny Pete relies on the advice of Jessie Pinkman, advice that is often reactionary and subversively dependent on the desires of Walter White. While Skinny Pete may be a small-time meth pusher, he has weaved himself in Pinkman’s inner-circle and established himself as a notable character in the show.
With a record of 3-2, it’s clear that Zhao Ya Fei (like his Breaking Bad counterpart) is still in the early stages of his respective career. However, with his wizard-like expertise in Sanda and his recent trips to Xian Sports Institute to train with Vaughn Anderson, it appears that Fei is aligning himself with the right people to jump start his MMA career — similar to how Skinny Pete decided to go with Walter White’s product and sell ‘Blue Sky,’ the greatest crystal meth on the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Will Zhao Ya Fei break out from the shadows of his Sanda background and be full-fledged martial artist at ONE FC: Rise of Kings? Will Skinny Pete expand his distribution to that of Walter White in the final episodes of Breaking Bad? How do we know — we’re not psychic. You’re just going to have to watch to find out.
Mike Ehrmantraut is (was) the primary enforcer in Gus’ highly covert crystal meth operation. Prior to his foray in being a hitman, Mike was a Philadelphia cop that mainly was involved in handling minor crimes like break-ins and domestic disputes. Discouraged with the dwindling action in his profession, Mike quit the police force and became a private investigator in New Mexico — and eventually forged a relationship with Gus Fring, owner of a chain of Los Pollos Hermanos fast-food restaurants.
Yusup Saadulaev started his career wrestling in Russia, and like his Breaking Bad alter-ego, he decided to depart from wrestling and relocate to Justice, Illinois to train mixed martial arts full time. Eventually, Saadulaec forged a relationship with Christian Uflacker at the Uflacker Academy and within two years became a pan-American Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion.
Like Yusup Saadulaev, Mike Ehrmantraut also rose to the top of his newly acquired profession and became the leader of ‘security’ for Gus’ underground crystal meth operation. Towards the end of Breaking Bad, we see Mike lose control over his ’empire’ after Walter White convinces Hector Salamanca to kill Gus Fring via a well-placed explosive device in one of the most epic scenes in modern television history. After the incident, Mike attempted to exert revenge on White, but was convinced by Pinkman to help both of them in an elaborate chain of schemes that ultimately ends in his untimely death.
We’re not sure if Yusup Saadulaev will face the same fate as Mike Ehrmantraut at the start of the bantamweight tournament at ONE FC: Rise of Kings, but if he manages to win the entire grand-prix and claim the relatively large cash prize — let’s just hope the DEA doesn’t confiscate his purse.
Don’t forget, ONE FC: Rise of Kings goes down this Saturday, October 6th at 5:00 am PST / 8:00 am EST so be sure to get your PPV pass here, or just enter our contest to receive a free PPV code compliments of MiddleEasy and ONE FC.