Last week, we kicked off our 10-week tournament to see which beloved character from Game of Thrones would reign supreme in an old school, UFC-style MMA tournament with The Winterfell Division, and without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that all four matches were absolute blowouts. I’m talking Game 2 of the NBA Finals numbers here, folks. Will things change with this week’s Kings Landing Division? I can’t say for sure, but definitely not in a couple of these matches!
Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane vs. Loras Tyrell
Oof, talk about a tough first outing for “The Knight of Flowers” aka Loras Tyrell. When we last saw with the most famous sword-swallower (his Grandma’s words, not mine) in Westeros do battle, he dropped an always humiliating submission via strikes loss to the High Sparrow, which doesn’t exactly bode well for his chances against a 6’9″, 400-pound undead zombie person with a penchant for ripping his opponents spines from their bodies. I mean, the only thing the High Sparrow liked more than branding his love for the band HIM into his follower’s foreheads was talking about how trash his knees were, and for a fighter of Tyrell’s caliber not even attempt to exploit that come game time was a disappointing development, to say the least.
Gregor Clegane aka “The Mountain”, however, will be entering this tournament on an almost unprecedented win streak, with victories over his brother Sandor Clegane, Elia Martel, Rhaenys Martel, Aegon Martel, and an incredible come-from-behind victory over “The Viper” Oberyn Martel. This man fought “The Irish Tiger” Conor McGregor to a draw, for God’s sake, and should be a favorite to win this entire tournament.
Ser Bronn of the Blackwater vs. Jamie Lannister
For clarity’s sake, let’s say that the version of Jamie Lannister competing in this tournament is the current, one-handed version. BUT. But. Let’s not assume that a one-handed man in a face punching contest is automatically at some kind of major disadvantage here. Nick Newell only hand one hand and still managed to defeat 13 out of his 14 opponents (with his lone loss coming against human violence machine Justin Gaethje), so let’s not act as if one of the most skilled knights in the history of King’s Landing doesn’t have some fight still left in him.
That all said, Lannister is facing a stiff test in Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, one of the craftiest vets in the game and a man who just so happens to have served as a trainer to Jamie Lannister in his current iteration. He may not be the biggest guy in the game, but his victory over Ser Vardis Egan showed that he more than makes up for it with speed and strategy. Let’s go to the tape:
A quick and efficient dismantling if there ever was one, Ser Bronn should enjoy a significant advantage in the fight IQ department when he takes on his former pupil, who has suffered key losses to Brienne of Tarth and Locke in recent outings.
Oberyn Martell vs. Stannis Baratheon
Oberyn Martell vs. Stannis Baratheon is essentially one of those “loser leaves town” matches you see all too often on the undercards of UFC Fight Night events these days. Perhaps most interesting about this matchup, however, are the similarities that both men share, having come off brutal, some might even say career-ending losses in their previous bouts with Gregor Clegane and Brienne of Tarth, respectively. But if Chris Weidman’s victory over the weekend showed us anything, it’s that even the most catastrophic of losing streaks can eventually be turned around.
In Martel, you have a calm, confident (perhaps too confident) warrior with incredible agility and an ability to gauge distance like few others. In Stannis, you have a more traditional style fighter who is as cold and calculated as they come — the kind of guy who would literally burn his own daughter at the stake if it meant winning a fight (to borrow an old fashioned phrase). It’s a classic battle of bisexual, spin-kicking playboy vs. asexual, fire god worshipping brute, so who do you got?
Sandor “The Hound” Clegane vs. Robert Baratheon
One of the more redemptive stories in the Game of Thrones universe, Sandor “The Hound” Clegane has truly turned things around on both a professional and personal level following a disastrous loss to Brienne of Tarth a few years back, which saw him commit multiple rule infractions (kicking a downed opponent and a low blow among them) before being TKO’d late in the third round.
Lately, however, The Hound has been fighting like a man possessed (possibly because he might actually be possessed). In arguably his most impressive showing to date, Clegane single-handedly took out four outlaws from the Brotherhood Without Banners in hand-to-hand (well, axe-to-hand) combat last year, adding to his already impressive record of wins over the likes of Beric Dondarian, Mycah the butcher’s boy, and a group of chicken-hoarding Lannister bannermen before them.
Once considered by many to be the G.O.A.T of the Seven Kingdoms, Robert Baratheon held dominion over the heavyweight division of Westeros for nearly twenty years following the demise of the last true emperor, Aerys Targaryen. Unfortunately, Baratheon’s unchallenged reign also saw him slip from a fierce, charismatic warrior into a drunken, bloated, bitter version of his former self (think Don Frye without the charm), culminating in a vicious KO loss to a wild boar during a hunting excursion. Will this tournament be the spark that lights a fire underneath his keister? If the history of MMA has taught us anything, it’s that no, it won’t, and we’ll all feel sorry for having witnessed his return to the ring in the moments that follow.