So the grand ol’ PFL wrapped up its 2021 season on Wednesday night, which it tried repeatedly to brand as the “biggest night in mixed martial arts.” Which, first of all, how you gonna have the biggest night in MMA on a Wednesday? And why does it start in the mid-afternoon but somehow take forever to get to the good stuff?
But fine, this was the one where we go through the annual ritual of awarding Kayla Harrison another big-ass check for beating up some human sacrifice. Plus we got to see that the MMA evolution of boxing champ Claressa Shields has apparently stalled at the ‘just hope they don’t go for takedowns on you’ stage. But wait, what’s this about this year’s heavyweight winner Bruno Cappelozza? You’re telling us his father died three days before his fight and no one told him?? That … is some heavy shit, man.
Apparently Cappelozza’s dad Joao died on Sunday. But his fight with Ante Delija for the 2021 PFL heavyweight title was on Wednesday (the biggest mid-week day in MMA). So rather than send the guy in there overcome by grief, everyone kept his father’s death a secret from him. Which seems like the kind of thing you might be grateful for in a way, if you’re Cappelozza, but also might leave you with some complicated goddamn feelings.
I mean, we all see the logic. If you’re not able to be with your family or help out in any way, seeing as how you’re in Hollywood, Fla., getting ready to do the damn thing, what’s the point of knowing? And if you do know, it’s bound to distract you from your work, which in this case is fighting a fellow heavyweight in a cage for a million bucks. That’s the kind of thing you want to be fully focused on.
Still, it’s some cold-ass shit to keep that secret from a person. For three days. And then, right after he wins the biggest fight of his life, you hit him with the bad news portion of his day. And the bad news is really, really bad.
It makes you wonder, would they have still told him right away after the fight if he’d lost? What if he’d gotten knocked out, raising the possibility that you might tell him only to have him forget? Coaches have told stories about having the same exact conversation with their recently concussed fighters over and over in a maddening loop while sitting around the ER or a hotel room. You really want to do that with news like ‘by the way your dad is dead’? Because that actually sounds like pure hell – for everybody.
But if you don’t tell him right away, maybe it becomes a slippery slope. You say you’ll tell him in the morning. Then you put it off until after breakfast. Then you decide you don’t want him sitting there on the whole flight home being tortured by it. Next thing you know you’re in some kind of emotional “Weekend At Bernie’s” situation and you have become a monster unrecognizable to yourself.
Luckily, Cappelozza won. That does make for a hell of an emotional rollercoaster – on Instagram Cappelozza called it the “happiest and saddest day of (his) life” – but you also know it could have been worse. Just gotta wonder, how do you not go into future fights without worrying that people are keeping important info from you? Maybe you really wouldn’t want to know until all the punching is over. Or maybe you wouldn’t want everyone else making those decisions for you.
I tell ya, this goddamn fight game. Just when you think you’ve seen all the impossible choices it has to offer, it finds new ones.
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