UTW awards the Absolute Best of Tulsa during the summer. It is a yearly tradition embraced by nominees, local businesses, and winners.
Recipients proudly boast of their accomplishment and popularity in the form of an official certificate. Restaurants and bars line their walls with the prestigious accolades.
The Tulsa fight scene is different. After years of fighting the good fight, educating the masses, and pushing the envelope in a nonviolent way, we decided to crown our own champion.
Why not bestow Tulsa's Official Badass 2012 during the ABoT proceedings? Because after all the strides the UFC, XFL, Bellator, and others have made, we are still scoffed at by the old guard.
Nevertheless, I am pleased to announce the 2012 inaugural badass: Josh "The Beast" Bryant.
"The King of the Cage unification, the North American Grappling Association titles; this blows away all of that," Bryant said. "The only thing is I need a damn belt."
The voting reached epic proportions. Close to one thousand votes were cast, which makes this extremely official.
Bryant is a true triple threat. He parlayed modest success on The Ultimate Fighter 11 into a ravenous local following.
From there he landed on Tulsa's most popular morning show alongside Corbin and Biggie, otherwise known as the Big Mad Morning Show on 97.5FM Friday mornings.
He is also a legit badass. His 14-1 record speaks for itself.
When fans approach, they may recognize him from any of those three platforms.
"I just want to thank my BMMS family. They pushed me to [become] Tulsa's Badass or Fatass as they say on the radio."
Bryant looks to unify his interim KOTC middleweight belt on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the River Spirit Event Center, 8330 Riverside Parkway.
He was supposed to fight current champion Sean Strickland back in September before a bevy of questionable excuses saw Strickland withdraw from the card.
A knee injury and staph on his face were the reasons Strickland gave for dropping off the card, leaving Bryant to smash Shonie Carter.
"If you are injured, you say you are injured," Bryant said. "If you have staph, you say you have staph. You don't have multiple [excuses]."
Bryant is not sure his opponent wanted the fight as much as he wanted to cling to his belt. The pressure facing Strickland coming to Bryant's hometown may have been too much.
"I hope it weighed on him. That is a lot of pressure for him," Bryant said. "I am comfortable at home. This is my sport. I am really comfortable and relaxed, and I hope he is not."
Strickland, the 9-0 champion, brings explosiveness to the cage. He is not super technical standing or on the ground. Like many fighters, if the going gets tough on his feet, he will look to take Bryant down. Good luck.
The truth is Strickland has not faced anyone of Bryant's caliber.
Bryant had a 10-month layoff following surgery to repair his meniscus. However, this will be his third fight since June. He has stepped in the Octagon under the big lights in Vegas. Will Strickland be prepared when Beastmode is activated?
"I think since the Shonie Carter and Brad Burrick fights he is thinking I am going to want to take him down. I will probably open with a lot of standup," Bryant said.
A little Jedi mind trick for the champ or will Bryant come out swinging leather? Let's just hope Strickland makes it to Tulsa and walks tall to the cage for his looming battle.
"There is no place in Oklahoma that has the talent we have," Bryant said of The Factory. He is the owner and one of the head trainers. "We have Gerald Harris, Daniel Roberts, Shane Roller -- I heard he retired; we will see how long that lasts -- myself, and Dave Heath."
He can walk next door to Ghost Dog Boxing and exchange blows with boxing superstar Allan Green under the watchful eye of Peppe Johnson.
If traditional Gi work is in order, he can join one of the Team Nogueira classes with Jimmie Johnson and the crew.
"We are all mixing it up with everybody every night. If anybody wants to come in and spar, they can. Trey [Houston] came over for his last fight and trained with us a little bit," Bryant said.
The members consider themselves more family than team. Unlike some gyms, there is no top dog. On any given day Josh may submit his teammates. The following day, he may be on the receiving end, forced to tap out.
They travel the world seeking knowledge. Whatever techniques they learn, they bring back to the family and share.
A high profile former strikeforce champion (who shall remain nameless) once entered the gym for a workout. He is a former collegiate wrestler and ox strong. He rolled through a couple of guys fairly easily.
Then Bryant stepped up and handled the visitor. After the session, the guy looked at Bryant and praised the level of competition at The Factory.
"When a guy who trains at American Kickboxing Academy and Blackhouse -- when he comes back and says that -- we are good. I didn't get there by myself. We are good," Bryant said.
"When Daniel Roberts trains with the Diaz brothers and he comes here and says, 'You guys are really fucking good; you guys push me,' that is saying something," he added. "It is a testament to how good we are as a team."
Our newly crowned Tulsa's Official Badass has options. A win over the KOTC champion next month will just shine a brighter light on Bryant and the Tulsa fight scene.
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