Cheaters Never Prosper

Jim Johns opened his Looky-Here app, eager to promote his upcoming fight for the Punisher Series Middleweight Championship, and found a message from his opponent, Grant Fletchling. 

It said: “You’re a fucking cheater, and you know it. You better not try any of that dirty shit with me.”

As early as Jim could remember, he competed by the motto: If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’. Whether slinking around after being “frozen” in a game of freeze tag during recess, syphoning money from the till while acting as the banker in Monopoly, or slugging it out in a cage with men of equal weight, winning was at all costs.

Pundits online—Jim called them keyboard warriors—noted the repeated barrage fouls early on, which he brushed off as haters. The tone was much different when, eventually, those within his community—other fighters, fans, and even some teammates—scrutinized his sporting etiquette.

Several of Jim’s previous dance partners had their careers stalled, or even ruined, because of Jim’s antics, playing fast and loose with a set of guidelines that are minimal to begin with. 

Hector Villanueva, a veteran journeyman with a swarming fanbase in every corner of California, suffered the most tragic fate at the hands—or more specifically: finger—of Jim; he was forced to retire when an extended digit stabbed him in the eye, detaching the retina—only thirty percent of his vision would return. 

Another unfortunate victim of Jim’s masquerade as a martial artist was Trent “Do Something” Dixon. While the round’s end alerts those in the cage to disengage, the advice, recycled since MMA’s inception, never let your guard down is there for a reason. Dixon recalled hearing the horn and wondering what advice his coach would have for him. As Dixon turned toward his corner, Jim launched a concussive right hand into his temple. Jim was disqualified—rightfully so—and Dixon, sadly, has still yet to be medically cleared for any level of physical contact. All seven of Jim’s bouts have involved an eye poke—though none as consequential as Villanueva’s—a fence grab or two, and countless warnings with multiple deductions of points. 

A nasty reputation on the regional circuit began surrounding Jim, and few would roll the dice against someone who made the already dangerous sport an even riskier proposition. The only reason Grant Fletchling accepted the bout to face Jim was because he was nearing an exit from the local scene and onto the global stage; he needed this.

Before the hum of the opening bell disappeared into space, Jim’s fingers swung like flesh swords at Fletchling’s eyes. The ref, keen to how Jim played the game, dished out a stern warning to close his fist. Fletchling spent the remaining two-minutes and twenty-seconds using Jim’s face as target practice with pristine boxing; the round finished without any further fishy-business. 

Midway through the second frame, Fletchling, as instructed by his corner, attempted a takedown. He stapled Jim to the fence, shooting for his midsection as a linebacker making a tackle in the open field. With an explosive twist of his hips, the two would topple to the canvas, where Fletchling would land in side control and deliver some brain-bashing elbows. In a transition so seamless it, at first glance, seemed legal, Jim drew the advantage. By interlocking his toes into the cage and wrenching for a takedown of his own, the maneuver granted Jim the necessary leverage, knocking Fletchling off balance and bringing him to his back. 

Some heavy ground-and-pound, a stoppage soon thereafter, and nobody questioned whether or not it was an honest win. In fact, proceeded along: Jim filled the winner’s circle, surrounded with love and admiration—instead of question marks, and Fletchling was sent back to the drawing board, though the unrealistic strength of Jim’s takedown gnawed at his craw incessantly. 

Fletchling and his team reviewed the tape—over and over and over again. Finally, the son of Fletchling’s Jiu-Jitsu Coach, Anthony, was able to zoom in and slow down the footage for a more detailed analysis. Sure enough, there it was—plain as day; Jim’s toes cinching hold of the steel exterior. An appeal to the California State Athletic Commission was filed immediately.

Following an arduous process, Fletchling’s loss was overturned. Consequently, when the end of the year arrived and it was time for Jim to renew his professional fighting license, CSAC denied the renewal based on the layers of problems proving he was a liability.

Prompted from the Word of the Day Challenge at:

Prompted from Fandango’s One Word Challenge at:


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