That’s Music To My Ears

Some people will tell you that the most important part of preparing for a fight is the actual training. They are wrong. Proper preparation has nothing to do with grappling or sparring or doing heavybag work. It’s all about selecting the proper “walk-out” song (notice how I used the term “walk-out” rather than the term “come out.” Come out is what you did on your fourteenth birthday, and although I have no problem with you making this decision, it has nothing to do with fighting.)

Remember, it is not whether you win or lose, and it’s certainly not about how you play the game—it’s about the song you walk out to. Even if your opponent beats you six ways from Sunday, you can still come away a winner as long as you made your entrance into the Octagon in proper fashion. A perfect example is when Michael Bisping fought Charles McCarthy. Bisping won the fight fairly quickly, but did he really walk away victorious? Let’s examine.

Bisping walked out to The Clash’s London Calling, which was very appropriate because he is from London or England or some other place where they talk funny, and McCarthy came out to The Stone’s Paint It Black. Both songs are British, and both songs are pretty fucking cool. But I would have to give the split decision to McCarthy with Paint It Black. He was demolished physically, but he still came out to the better song.

The downside to walking out to a super cool song is that you can ruin it completely. Not for yourself, but for everyone else (most namely me.) Not long ago a fighter came out to the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, which used to be a song I cherished. For the life of me I cannot remember his name (yes, I could have looked his name up, but that would have involved research. I refused to do research of any kind). All I remember is that he had a very awkward walk out, and then received a critical ass kicking in the fight. Unlike in the Bisping/Mc- Carthy bout, the song overshadowed the fight in every way. I did not walk away thinking, “At least both fighters had one hell of a walk out.” Instead, I thought, “Thanks buddy for ruining a perfectly good song.”

USE THE FORCE

Some fighters like to use the Jedi mind trick on the audience by playing an off the wall song, but this can work both for you and against you. When Terry Martin walked out to Billy Jean, it worked in his favor. Stunned and mesmerized, the crowd got behind him and began cheering insanely loud. Well done. It also worked pretty good for Roy Nelson when he walked out to Weird Al Yankovic’s I’m Fat. Instead of taking himself too seriously, he employed some self-deprecating humor. And it worked.

The best idea is to pick a theme song that reflects you as a person. A perfect example of this is when Matt Hughes comes out to A Country Boy Can Survive. Known as a fighter who builds his impressive strength by dry humping bails of hay onto a truck bed, it gets the entire crowd jacked. Even if they hated him leading up to the fight, they can’t help but want him to survive. By the time he reaches the Octagon, half the damn audience is singing (well, a couple of people are humming, at least). The lyrics literally brainwash them. In addition to this, every time they hear the song on the radio while working out or driving in the car, they can’t help but think about Matt Hughes and his uncanny ability to survive. It’s fucking brilliant!

MILLI VANILLI SYNDROME

Thought the lesson was over—wrong. Once you have picked a song that you think resembles your general demeanor or some distinguishing characteristic, you need to truthfully assess whether or not the song sucks. Tito obviously never figured this out because for the longest time he was coming out to a cheese-dick song by Limp Biscuit. Continuing with his evolution of douchebaggery, he now comes out to Eminem. That’s right, Limb Biscuit became so lame that even Tito dropped them. That is pretty low. While a sucky song does seem to fit Tito’s M.O., he should have given his walk-out song more consideration. Off the top of my head, I think any song by the group Big Head Todd would be more appropriate.

In addition to walking out to terrible music, Tito takes matter one step further and chooses to actually lip-sync as he makes his hip-hoppidy decent to the Octagon. Words to live by—NEVER LIPSYNC. It didn’t work for Milli Vanilli, and it is not going to work for you. Dancing to your theme song is also something you must carefully assess. If you know how to dance and it pumps you up before your fight, by all means, dance you fucking tits off.

RESPECT THE HOFF

I realize that European fighters are a good 20 years behind us due to Communism, but someone needs to get them up to speed. When CroCop comes out to Wild Boys by Duran Duran, someone has to be brave enough to tell him that the 1980’s called and wants its music back. After all, the Berlin Wall fell down a long time ago, and there is absolutely no reason to still be stuck in the Knight Rider era. If you’re a European fighter and thinking, “What the hell is Forrest talking about,” I am going to make it plain and simple. It might come as a shock—it might even hurt your feelings—but I have to say it: David Hasselhoff is no longer cool. As a matter of fact, he never was cool.

If you take all my helpful hints and give your walk-out song careful consideration, it can pay big dividends. For the longest time I walked out to Shipping Off to Boston by Dropkick Murphys. Was it a lame song by a has-been band? No. Did it represent my background? Sure it did, I’m Irish. Did I lip-sync? Absolutely not. Did I dance? Hell no. I look like an oversized chicken when I dance. What did I get from it? A riled up crowd and a somewhat lucrative shirt deal with the band.

HULKAMANIA RUNNING WILD

Do I feel MMA could do more in the realm of walk-out songs? Most certainly. We are still well behind the curve, but I have hope because the sport is still young. First off, the UFC does not include the fighter’s walk out on their DVDs. The fights start with you already in the ring, and this ruins the best part of the fight. Second, the UFC has to employ more music during their events. Back in the day, professional wrestlers used to walk out with no music at all. One day, The Road Warriors decided to up the anti and walk out to Iron Man by Black Sabbath. It was a resounding success, and soon all professional wrestlers started walking out to music. In an attempt to stand out above the rest, Hulk Hogan took the next step and developed his very own theme song called I Am A Real American. Don’t pretend you don’t know the song—“I am a real American, I fight for the rights of every man…” It was written especially for him. He even came out with a music video.

Even boxing has taken the walk-out song more serious than MMA. When Floyd Mayweather walked out for his fight with De La Hoya, he didn’t just play 50 Cent over the loud speakers. He walked out with 50 Cent himself. How fucking cool is that? The closest MMA equivalent is when Diego Sanchez came out with a mariachi band during the TUF finals. Cool, but not nearly as cool as having a heavily armed 50 Cent by your side.

THE RISKY WALK-BACK SONG

What is my biggest aspiration with walkout songs in MMA? I’ll tell you. I want to outdo professional wrestling and boxing by not only having a walk-out song, but also having a walk-back song. Sounds crazy? Tell that to the NBA or NFL. When a team wins a big game, what do they do—play We Are The Champions by Queen. I want—no, strike that—I demand my walk-back song. Granted, this won’t always work in my favor. When I fought Keith Jardine, my walk-back song could have been Cry Me A River by Justin Timberlake or Cry, Cry, Cry by Johnny Cash. And even worse still, when I fought Anderson Silva, my walk-back song could have been I Ran by Flock of Seagulls. You know the one: “And I raaannn, I ran so far awwwwaaayy … I couldn’t get away.” But when you win, having a cool walk-back song will be well worth it.

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