As a gigantic fan of both, I’ve always found there to be an undeniable link between hip hop and MMA. Both serve as countercultures that spotlight difficult backgrounds and the perseverance required to overcome said obstacles. Both offer avenues to a better life. And more often than not, the stars of both worlds exhibit a certain vulnerability; a raw display of emotions that allows the audience to connect to the struggle of those they support. A fierce loyalty is bread, often sparking heated debates between fans as to who’s the best and why.
As one of the most prolific voices in both hip hop and MMA, writer Matteo Urella is the perfect source to draw parallels between the biggest names in both. This is not a buzzfeed list. This is the real deal. Check out a few examples below, and head over to djbooth.net for the full list.
Written by Matteo Urella – Originally posted on August 31st (via DJBooth.net)
Conor McGregor & Drake
Both McGregor and Drake run their respective sports and their nearest competition isn’t close.
From sold-out performances to record-breaking sales and fan adoration, “The Notorious” McGregor and Drizzy are squarely on top of their industry mountains, despite adversaries trying to knock them down.
Both have legendary work ethics, with McGregor rising up from poverty to predict his UFC future.
During his near 10 year run, Drake has earned 27 GRAMMY nominations to support his seven studio albums, and led the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard 200 simultaneously for eight weeks – a new record – in 2016.
McGregor – 2016 ESPYS Best Fighter – saw his UFC 194 win over the great Jose Aldo break UFC records, most notably:
- $10,100,000 gate
- 1.2 million buyrate (then-second highest in history)
- Nevada attendance
At 28 and 29 respectively, McGregor and Drake are just now coming into their own with no signs of losing their rear-naked chokeholds on their games.
Georges St-Pierre & Tupac Shakur
The 35-year-old St-Pierre is without a doubt one of the best MMA practitioners ever to compete. He was a major draw, fan favorite and crossover superstar who achieved film and endorsement deals before MMA was respected.
Amongst the most dominant champions ever, he ‘retired’ with: most wins in title bouts (12) and the second-longest combined winning streak in UFC history – behind Anderson Silva – a ridiculous 2,204 days.
For context: in 2006, GSP avenged his then-only loss against Matt Hughes to win the Welterweight Championship at UFC 65. At UFC 69, GSP lost his first defense to heavy underdog Matt Serra – one of the largest upsets in combat sports history. GSP won his belt back at UFC 79 when he again defeated Hughes.
From UFC 79 in 2007 until UFC 129 in 2011, GSP didn’t lose a round. That’s seven-and-a-half title defenses in one of the deepest UFC divisions in history. An alleged “nice guy,” GSP dominated and decimated his opponents with brutal albeit drab technical execution; his gentle disposition belied his combat arts and champion mindset. GSP retired in 2013 with a record of 25-2 and avenged both losses with excellence.
Sound like anyone?
Shakur is oft-considered among the all-time greatest hip-hop artists – but not lyricists. He dominated competition uncensored – naming and vocally brutalizing enemies despite being affable, educated and approachable. Shakur achieved cinematic success and is responsible for a list of accolades deserving of a separate article. He is the 43rd highest-selling musician in history – and he died at 25.
25! I could barely read or write at 25!
Neither professional was the most exciting nor artistic in their respective craft, but both were inordinately successful, charismatic and absolutely dominant over competition.
Nick Newell & Anderson .Paak
What makes .Paak so beloved, more than his artistry, is his backstory – a true underdog currently winning, rightfully celebrated by everyone who’s heard this year’s Malibu.
A brief run-down: .Paak witnessed his father brutalize his mom, eventually became homeless after losing his job and was overlooked by everyone before six star-turning performances on Dr. Dre’s Compton in 2015.
With Malibu, he created one of the most celebrated albums in recent memory and the top contender for 2016 Album of the Year. It’s hard to imagine .Paak wouldn’t find success in any area he puts his mind to – he’s that good.
Newell doesn’t have the heartbreak of .Paak’s life, but he does have:
- 13-1 record
- XFC Lightweight Championship
- Two appearances on SportsCenter’s Top 10
- A biopic coming coming to theaters in 2017
Impressive, sure. But this hero is a congenital amputee – born without the lower portion of his left arm.
Wherever Newell goes, he’s adored. Not because of his physique; because he’s one of the kindest, funniest and most charismatic athletes competing today. Like .Paak, Newell was denied opportunities to do what he loves. Like .Paak, it was only a matter of time before he shined among the brightest of lights.