Respecting The Game

Several music artists are avid fans of MMA, but only a select few have the distinction of hitting the road and representing MMA’s most popular magazine on the festival circuit. After The Burial is amongst the select few.


The hardcore metal quintet is about to embark on The December Decimation Tour, the year’s hard music, holiday extravaganza, and they are incredibly excited. While the Minnesota-based collective (comprised of vocalist Anthon Notarmaso, bassist Lee Floral, drummer Dan Carle, and guitarists Trent Hafdahl and Justin Lowe) will beco-headlining the bill and promoting their new studio album In Dreams, the tour holds special significance to them because one of their favorite publications—FIGHT!—is co-sponsoring the tour.


When Notarmaso heard the news, he was pleasantly surprised. “I was shocked,” the 26-year-old says. “When I found out it was happening, I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s frickin’ badass.’ It’s pretty cool. It’s a sign of good things to come, hopefully.”


Though all the band members follow the latest happenings in the MMA world, Notarmaso is perhaps the most passionate member, and that passion began when he was a little boy. While the singer had watched boxing, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s when he was exposed to the UFC that his love of MMA began.


Notarmaso’s best friend lived across the street, and his family would order the UFC pay-per-view events whenever they came on. Immediately, boxing lost its taste because, in his mind, MMA represented more of the true form of fighting.


“It was no holds barred, and there were no weight classes or anything—just guys kicking the shit out of each other,” he recalls. “I watched boxing too, but the UFC was better because it was legitimate fighting.”


At first, strikers mostly appealed to Notarmaso—especially Tank Abbott due to his slugfest mentality, unique physique, and trademark beard. But he also appreciated some of the sport’s earliest pioneers, including Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie, because they specialized in submission maneuvers that he hadn’t seen before.


In fact, his appreciation for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is becoming stronger and stronger every day. “The ground game is definitely growing on me, that’s for sure,” Notarmaso says. “It’s cool seeing someone get knocked out, but now you’re seeing that the ground game matters just as much as the stand-up.”


As the sport has transformed over the past decade, so have his favorite cage warriors. While fighters like Abbott and Gracie will always hold a soft spot in Notarmaso’s heart, he is now hooked on multi-dimensional fighters with respectful and quirky attitudes. Amir Sadollah and Roy Nelsonare some he watches closely, but the scruffy vocalist adores UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre. He might even have a man crush on him.


“I remember Matt Hughes talking shit to GSP on TUF because he beat him one time” he recalls. “But St-Pierre kept his composure because he is a genuine dude and he ended up kicking the shit out of Hughes a couple of months later. GSP maintains his composure, he’s levelheaded, and he’s a respectful fighter. I think that’s awesome. It seems like he is very easy to like. I’m always cheering for him, even though he’s French Canadian, but that’s cool with me because I have a lot of French Canadian friends.”


Notarmaso is especially hyped about the upcoming Georges St-Pierre and Josh Koscheck welterweight showdown this December in Montreal. Like any GSP fan, or die hard Zuffa aficionado, the singer has been watching the current installment of The Ultimate Fighter closely and has noticed the mind games Koscheck has been playing. But as “Rush” has done in the past, he has maintained his composure, and that re-enforces his allegiance to one of MMA’s best pound-for-pound fighters.


“Koscheck talks shit, but GSP keeps his composure,” Notarmaso says. “It was totally chill and I was like, ‘That’s awesome. He’s not letting someone get to him,’ and I think he even said something like, ‘I do my fighting in the ring,’ so it was pretty cool. I definitely like St-Pierre in that fight. That’s for sure.”


But as it stands, there isn’t any chance—at least not right now—of Notarmaso becoming Minnesota’s version of GSP. Although there are plenty of gyms around in “Brock Lesnar Country,” neither him nor the other band members have the time to train in mixed martial arts.


“It would be so hard to with my schedule,” he says. “It would be really fun, but I just don’t have time right now.”


While After The Burial will be spending the next month on the FIGHT! sponsored December Decimation Tour, they clearly won’t have the time to train. The only things they can do are perform live onstage, promote In Dreams, and interact with fans. Oh yeah, and crash the bar afterwards to watch Notarmaso’s hero throw down.

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