The 10 greatest post-fight meltdowns


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I'm no physician -- barely capable of applying a Band-Aid, actually -- but I'm nonetheless going to petition the American Medical Association to consider acknowledging a new phenomenon: PFADS, or Post-Fight Adrenal Dump Syndrome. This debilitating affliction has compelled many a combat athlete into making bizarre proclamations or exhibiting odd behavior in the moments immediately following a bout. Chemically, it's the result of the body unable to deal with the massive adrenaline surge that accompanies a hard-earned victory (and occasionally, a devastating loss). Athletes become manic, unpredictable and perhaps even dangerous to nearby civilians. The epiphany to raise awareness for this disorder came after seeing B.J. Penn violate at least 110 rules of personal hygiene by licking the blood of Joe Stevenson off his glove in Newcastle, England, on Saturday, making him a veritable walking biohazard. Review these key examples of PFADS in ascending order of disturbance and learn to recognize the symptoms. Know when PFADS could strike someone close to you. Because knowing is half the battle.

10. Chuck Liddell: PFADS poster boy (various)

For the classic PFADS archetype, look no further than Liddell. In interviews and in recreational time, Liddell is the model of West Coast chill. One gets the feeling that an earthquake would barely prompt one of his drowsy, sleep-encrusted eyes to open even a millimeter wider. That's why Liddell's post-fight flip-out is such a wonder to behold. His muscles tense, his eyes bulge and his arms elongate; he takes on the appearance of someone who's just had a toaster dropped into his bathtub. The celebration resembles nothing so much as when David Naughton is about to turn into a lycanthrope in "An American Werewolf in London." It's as animated as Liddell ever gets, but it doesn't last very long. By the time the post-fight interview winds down, he's slipped back into sheer apathy, plugging his nightclub appearances with all the enthusiasm of a tranquilized sloth -- and that dichotomy is what makes his victory lap so much fun to watch.

9. St. Pierre begs (UFC 56, Nov. 19, 2005)

After winning a high-risk fight against Sean Sherk, welterweight contender Georges St. Pierre performed his usual post-bout routine of break-dancing, a cultural sensation that recently hit Canada. But then his symptoms devolved into more disturbing imagery: Crawling on his knees, he pleaded with UFC executives to give him another title bout against Matt Hughes, hands clasped together like the Octagon had just morphed into the Vatican. "Please," St. Pierre moaned. "I want dat belt so bad! Give it to me!" It didn't quite work: St. Pierre fought B.J. Penn before meeting Hughes for the title. But there's little doubt that the sight of a groveling, subservient athlete made Dana White's evening.

8. Griffin's waterworks (UFC 66, Dec. 30, 2006)

Another sign PFADS can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime: Light heavyweight Forrest Griffin is generally viewed as a genial fighter who practically stumbled into his fight shorts. Rarely does he talk about MMA in spiritual, reverent terms. That's why it was such a shocker to see Griffin's emotional collapse following a TKO loss to Keith Jardine. After being separated, Griffin folded into a corner, sobbing as though Jardine's gloves had been rubbed in onions prior to the match. It was an uncomfortable display to witness, but it also served as a reminder of how much effort athletes invest in contests that can often end in abrupt disappointment.

7. "Cro Cop" chokes up ("Pride Final Conflict Absolute," Sept. 10, 2006)

An athlete getting a little misty-eyed after a crucial career moment isn't unusual, but when said athlete is notoriously stoned-faced Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, it's the equivalent of a nervous breakdown. After failing in bids at the heavyweight Pride title, Filipovic mowed down both Wanderlei Silva and Josh Barnett in the same evening to capture the open-weight tournament title. Overcome with emotion, the stern Croatian actually allowed some tears to escape his eyes, or what he would later call a "salty discharge" that "was simply meant to lubricate my corneas."

6. Penn's mini-marathon (UFC 34, Nov. 2, 2001)

With only two professional bouts to his credit, B.J. Penn was labeled the heir apparent to Jens Pulver's lightweight title. To earn the shot, Penn was slotted against Caol Uno -- and proceeded to literally run right through him, nearly pounding his head through the chain link fence. Delirious with adrenaline, Penn dashed out of the Octagon and ran right back up the ramp and backstage, where he later said he intended to stay. (UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta told him to get back out in the arena.) Penn's PFADS is unique in that it manifested itself with the desire to have a freakout in the privacy of his own dressing room.

5. Tito Ortiz: PFADS Hall of Famer (various)

Should Tito Ortiz ever choose to endorse a disorder -- and the Acromegaly Foundation is all booked up -- he might want to consider PFADS. In various events, Ortiz has been the least effective in controlling post-win (or post-loss) outbursts. There was the sobbing after a sobering loss to Randy Couture in 2003, his first defeat in four years, after which Ortiz literally trembled with rage at his own failure. There was the triumphant celebration on top of the Octagon following his bout with Ken Shamrock, in which Ortiz professed to "love each and every one of you mother-------" as he pointed to the crowd in a touching display of warmth, and also the victory lap into the stands after a close win over Vitor Belfort, when Ortiz mingled with onlookers as he hoisted the American flag. Should Ortiz ever snare another impressive victory, I fully expect him to begin tearing apart the cage and ingesting bits of the canvas.

4. Josh Barnett: Type AB Sociopath (UFC 32, June 29, 2001)

While B.J. Penn may have been the most recent athlete to horrify observers with his vampiric behavior on Saturday, he was hardly the innovator. That dubious honor goes to Josh Barnett, who celebrated a win over Semmy Schilt in '01 by licking Schilt's blood off of his hand and then miming a trademark faux slash across his throat. With exception to the Amy Fisher sex tape, it was pretty much the grossest thing ever committed to film. A note to Penn, Barnett and other blood-tasting connoisseurs: Illness and disease can indeed be transmitted via oral ingestion of plasma if you have any open sores or cuts either in the mouth or in your GI tract. So for God's sake, stick with water.

3. Coleman vs. Chute Boxe (Pride 31, Feb. 26, 2006)

In what could be best described as the twilight of his career, a then-42-year-old Mark Coleman was expected to be little more than a sparring partner for the devastating fists and feet of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Few observers expected Coleman -- who had dropped two of his last three bouts -- to provide any threat to the Brazilian's cavernous dimples. But thanks to Rua making a rookie wrestler's mistake and posting his arm during a takedown attempt, Coleman garnered the unlikely victory. Inflamed by the outcome, both his camp and Rua's Chute Boxe team invaded the ring, clashing in a meeting of testosterone overload. By the end, Coleman had his foot planted on the neck of a downed Wanderlei Silva as Japanese officials tried to restore order. Coleman, who is built like a silverback gorilla but probably a little stronger, can perform some truly catastrophic feats when in an agitated adrenal state. Casualties were, thankfully, minimal. Rarely does MMA feature any kind of aerial stunt work. In addition to the lack of wires, it's awfully dangerous to be spinning like a Frisbee in mid-air when the fight itself can provide all the physical trauma you'd ever want. But credit goes to Charles "Krazy Horse" Bennett for defying insurance mandates and topping off his victories by standing on the edge of the cage and then performing a backward somersault. It's dangerous, reckless and probably going to result in spinal cord compression at some point -- and Bennett doesn't strike as the type of guy who has his pension in order.

1. Coleman Goes airborne (Pride Grand Prix Finals, May 1, 2000)

Despite his impressive reign in the UFC, Mark Coleman was largely written off as a geriatric addition to Pride's inaugural 16-man tournament (for my money, still the most impressive collection of talent and star power ever assembled). So you can understand his emotional explosion following a TKO win in the finals over Igor Vovchanchyn, a fight in which his knees orbit the durable Ukrainian's head like Sputnik before crushing it into oblivion. Coleman, exploding with excitement, ran toward the corner and didn't know if he wanted to jump out of the ring or onto the turnbuckle. His synapses confused, he went horizontal to the mat, soared through the air and summarily bounced off the ropes like a giant, 230-pound SuperBall. Unable to navigate the corner, Coleman opted to shoot out of the ring and mow down roughly 200 excitable fans in the front row, huge arms smashing into faces, feet trampling undersized observers. One almost expected to hear Raymond Burr providing grave narration during the carnage. To this day, Coleman's display of relief and excitement remains the most palpable example of post-fight mania. There have been lotto winners and rescued POWs who were less excited. Jake Rossen is a contributor to Sherdog.com.
Jake Rossen is a contributor to ESPN.com. His byline has appeared in the New York Times, Wired.com, and numerous other outlets. He began covering mixed martial arts in 1998.
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