It’s not really that surprising that MMA and the moviemaking industry have become bedfellows in recent years, what with the former’s boon in popularity and the latter’s need to capitalize on literally any trend or remotely popular thing for monetary gain. But while most critics have attempted to grade these crossover flicks like they’re the next Citizen Kane or something, there have been few (if any) who have analyzed them based purely on how accurately or inaccurately they portray combat sports from a technical perspective. To which I say, NO MORE.
Starting today, I am embarking on a mission to review every last movie with even a tangible connection to MMA, boxing, muay Thai, or even fighting in general. All of them. I will not be grading these movies, nor will I be offering a critique on superfluous things like plot, writing, and acting. Instead, I will be doing that thing that I just mentioned above.
The only place to begin, of course, is with the Mecca of modern MMA films (and the only one co-promoted by the UFC!): Here Comes the Boom, aka Paul Blart Presents: Mixed Martial Farts.
Starring the incomparable Kevin James as biology teacher Scott Voss, Here Comes the Boom tells the story of an affable schmuck’s attempt to bed Salma Hayek *and* save his school’s music program with six months of sprawl training in the lowest-paying sport in modern existence (save maybe women’s basketball). The Fonz is also there. It’s all very strange.
But the questionable logic of Voss’ plan aside, does he display the kind of skillset that would make him a viable threat in the UFC’s notoriously shaky heavyweight division? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Weight: Approx. 220 lbs.
In almost any other division, Voss’ age would be enough to put the kibosh on his UFC dreams right from the get-go. BJ Penn was only 38 when he made his most recent comeback, and he looked like a poi-filled inflatable punch bag against Yair Rodriguez.
But the UFC’s heavyweight division has and always will be the division of old man strength. It wasn’t that long ago that 43-year-old Randy Couture captured the heavyweight title by beating down Tim Sylvia (sending “The Maine-iac” into a downward, cake-filled spiral from which he has yet to recover), and even today, four out of the UFC’s top 10 heavyweights are 35 years or older. Mark Hunt is nearing 45, for God’s sake, and he can still turn half the division into dust with one good punch.
That said, Voss’ physical stature certainly wouldn’t do him any favors. At 5’8 (assuming his character is the same height as Kevin James), Voss would give up 8 inches to current champ Stipe Miocic and almost a foot to No. 10-ranked Alexander Volkov, not to mention at least 20 pounds to either of them. It would be like that time Pat Barry fought Stefan Struve, or that time James’ character from Zookeeper was forced to put down an silverback gorilla using only his farts.
(I’ve never actually seen Zookeeper, but let’s be honest, that’s probably a scene in Zookeeper.)
Voss is described as a “former Division 1 collegiate wrestler” throughout Here Comes the Boom. Based on the grappling skills we see from him in the movie, however, I’m going to go ahead and call bullsh*t on that as hard as I possibly can. Voss may have some old trophies and memorabilia adorning his walls (with the above photo no doubt being taken from James’ high school wrestling days), but in the cage, Voss moves with the skill and volition of a quadriplegic on ice skates.
Take a moment early in the movie, when Voss is matched up in his first MMA fight against a man who IMDB lists as “Fighter at Factory.” The bell rings, and Voss, relying on his years of elite-level grappling experience, breaks out this trash:
That is not the stance of a man who has wrestled a day in his life. That is the stance of a man trying to throw a Hadouken while having to take a dump.
Am I saying that Scott Voss’ entire resume as a fighter rests on a throne of lies? Or that the photos and trophies we saw in the beginning of Here Comes the Boom were likely stolen from his twin brother, whom Voss also killed in order to assume his identity and sleep with Salma Hayek’s character?
Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
Although Scott Voss displays an almost laughable — trust me, nothing in this movie can be described as capable of eliciting a laugh — lack of ability when it comes to striking defense (here he is eating a Superman Punch from all the way across the Octagon), he does demonstrate the two things that have propelled literally every champion in UFC heavyweight history to gold: a granite chin and an overhand right.
Seriously, Scott Voss can swing them bungalows, son. Look no further than his fight against “Lucky” Patrick Murphy (played by actual MMA fighter turned crazy person Jason “Mayhem” Miller). After getting his ass handed to him for the entire fight, Voss eats a ridiculous 14 strike, Tekken-level combo in the second round before uncorking the Roy Nelson-esque right hand pictured above, sending Patrick crashing to the canvas like a felled oak (and Miller into a downward, cocaine-filled spiral from which he has yet to recover).
Simply put, you can’t teach that kind of heart, nor can you teach that kind of power. And in the realm of UFC heavyweights, power alone would be enough to make Voss a certified contender. Stipe Miocic is set to become the de facto G.O.A.T of the division by virtue of having defended his heavyweight title three times, a feat which no other champion has ever done. Three. Tom Brady has won nearly as many Super Bowl rings as that in the past three years and there are still people who will claim that Peyton Manning was a better quarterback.
Scott Voss may be a compulsive lying sociopath who committed fratricide for a chance to make out with Salma Hayek through a sweat-covered octagon cage (not saying I wouldn’t do the same), but he’s also skilled enough to become a top 10 UFC heavyweight, if not a one-off champion. Because let’s be honest, crazier things have happened