Thank you, Tokyo Olympics, for bringing us the ‘beast mode’ we all needed

Many wanted the Tokyo Olympics cancelled, but in the end, they were incredible.

The best.

Pushing past the flimsiest steel barrier ever constructed, into a restricted area he clearly shouldn’t have had access to, Boxall ripped off his required mask and proceeded to… dry hump a fence like The Ultimate Warrior circa Wrestlemania 6?

Like I said. Beast Mode.

The best part: In the background, a Japanese Olympic official, doing her level best to provide resistance, raises her hands like a frightened gazelle and then succumbs. Slowly those raised hands are lowered, evolving into confused claps. OK, she seems to say. You’re here now. There’s nothing I can do about this. I’m just going to try and enjoy this front row seat to Beast Mode, starring Dean Boxall.

In this metaphor, Boxall is the Tokyo Olympics. Both as an event and an idea. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic both probably shouldn’t be here. As the world reels from the effects of the delta strain and global vaccine hesitancy, this is the Olympics no one asked for. Dean, what are you doing here? Bugger off, Dean. Now is not the time.

High jumpers Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi gave each other their gold medals. This is too much.

Me? I’m the Japanese official. We’re all the Japanese official. Nervous, unsure how to react, ultimately acquiescing to this moment completely out of our control. Even in Japan, the host country, people were protesting the Olympics. First we collectively raised our hands in passive resistance. Seconds later we were all clapping.

And we were clapping because Dean Boxall is awesome. Reckless, sure. But so awesome. The Olympics were reckless too — but also awesome.

This is what the Olympics delivers: Beast Mode direct to your screen and your heart. It’s in the business of providing iconic moments like Boxall’s. Moments that simultaneously inspire and subvert our sense of what’s possible. Weird shit, displays of pure athleticism.

Two men collapsing into one another’s arms when they realize they can share a gold medal instead of duelling to the death for it. Skateboarding girls cheering each other on, making quick friends in the face of fierce competition. Runners stumbling, falling over in potentially race-ending collisions, miraculously recovering to win races.

Incredible, awe-inspiring moments.

Maybe it’s because we live in a universe where moments like these are worshipped, contorted and shaped into GIFs, tweets and memes in an infinite social media content spiral, but it somehow feels like we’ve had more of these moments compared to previous Olympics. That these Olympic Games have meant more than we ever could have expected when we cynically, reluctantly invited them into our homes.

Personally, as a man living in Sydney, a city wrestling with strict lockdowns that could potentially last for months, the Olympics was been a salve I didn’t realize I needed. It was a welcome distraction as I juggled home-schooling, work and a near-permanent dread at the daily ritual of waiting for Sydney case numbers to drop so we can all go back outside and live relatively normal lives.

There were a million reasons why the Olympic Games shouldn’t have happened in 2021. A million reasons why we shouldn’t have watched and supported what is arguably an irresponsible event run for the wrong reasons. But it’s also equally possible that — this year — the Olympics were more useful than ever.

The Tokyo Olympics probably shouldn’t have happened because of COVID-19. But I’m also happy it happened — because of COVID-19. If that makes sense.

None of it makes sense.

But right now, sport — with its simple rules and digestible outcomes, with its warm blanket of normalcy and straightforward narratives of triumph over adversity — is maybe the only thing that makes sense.

The Olympics, much like Dean Boxall, busted its way into our homes and televisions and refused to leave. An unwelcome guest. But, like the uncertain Olympics official dealing with the uncontainable Boxall as he dry humped a fence, I’m glad the Olympics forced their way into my life. I couldn’t have done lockdown without it.

Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 3: Is the fight still on?

Dustin Poirier has apologised for calling out McGregor and the fight is 100% back on.

Conor McGregor has become broiled in a new controversy.

Let’s try and explain this whole deal from the start.

In the wake of a dominant win against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in early 2020, Conor McGregor was itching to continue fighting throughout the remainder of the year. Unfortunately COVID-19 put a big dent in those plans.

The UFC continued putting on fight cards throughout 2020 and was one of the first sports in the US to come “back,” but it appeared as though the UFC was reluctant to put together another McGregor fight — most likely because fans couldn’t attend fights yet and the UFC makes a significant amount of money on live gates to see one of the sport’s biggest stars.

For comparison, the UFC might usually take in $1 million to $2 million in ticket sales for a regular event, while a McGregor fight with full attendance will bring in over $7 million from ticket sales alone.

So McGregor was left on the shelf.

Out of frustration McGregor took matters into his own hands, attempting to put together an exhibition bout with Poirier.

McGregor had faced Poirier before. In 2014, McGregor defeated Poirier via a devastating first round KO. But to remain active, McGregor offered to face off against Poirier in a second fight — albeit an exhibition — and donate $500,000 to The Good Fight Foundation, a nonprofit charity set up by Poirier to help those in need. Poirier agreed to the bout.

That got the UFC’s attention.

In the wake of those tweets the UFC set up a legitimate rematch between McGregor and Poirier under the UFC banner, but McGregor committed to the $500,000 donation he had promised regardless.

Given the outcome of their first fight, McGregor was heavily favored to beat Poirier in their rematch. In the leadup, the pair were extremely cordial — a stark contrast to the first fight, when McGregor was largely credited with beating Poirier mentally with an assault of cutting trash talk in the lead up to the contest.

But the second fight played out much differently. After compromising McGregor with punishing, debilitating calf kicks, Poirier knocked out McGregor, putting the pair at 1-1.

In interviews after the second fight, Poirier confirmed that McGregor’s people had reached out about the donation and thanked him face-to-face for the money McGregor intended to donate to The Good Fight Foundation.

A third fight between McGregor and Poirier was scheduled for July 10, with McGregor declaring there would be “no more Mr. Nice Guy” — in reference to the relaxed atmosphere between the two in the leadup to their second fight.

The cordial relationship between the pair quickly deteriorated. After a series of tweets back and forth, Poirier posted an explosive tweet accusing McGregor of not actually following through on the $500,000 donation he’d promised in the lead up to their second fight.

“That’s a fun prediction,” Poirier tweeted. “[Y]ou also predicted a donation to my foundation and you and your team stopped responding after the fight in January.”

That got McGregor’s attention. He claimed that communication stopped because he was waiting on specifics on plans for the money.

“We’ve been awaiting the plans for the money that never came,” he tweeted. “I do that with all my donations.”

After more back and forth, McGregor got more riled up, appearing to cancel the upcoming third fight, claiming he would “fight someone else” on July 10th.

Most likely the fight will go ahead and McGregor has made reference to making Poirier “pay” for “smearing” his name.

Plenty of others got involved, including McGregor’s manager Audie Attar.

McGregor has given heavily to charities in the past, donating 1 million euros to hospitals in Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic and invested a “significant amount” to help keep his childhood soccer club alive.

Attar claimed the donation was still going ahead.

After the twitter battle over the donation, McGregor initially started hinting he might look for another opponent for his July 10th fight.

But after the dust had settled, it was confirmed by all parties that the fight was back on.

ESPN’s MMA reporter Ariel Helwani confirmed the news with McGregor himself.

In an interesting twist, Poirier tweeted out an official apology for bringing up the charity issue in the first place.

“I jumped the gun and took my private matters between Conor and my foundation public,” he wrote in a statement. “My mistake, we live, we learn. Spreading positivity and doing good is my goal.”