Tiger King: MMA Edition

“Tiger King” has dominated popular culture in recent weeks. Per Nielsen estimates, the Netflix true crime docuseries was watched by more than 34 million viewers in its first 10 days of release, and those figures are for the US alone.

We at Severe MMA couldn’t help but draw comparisons between Tiger King characters and members of the MMA community. We’re not sure if it was the constant barrage of Affliction apparel throughout the series or John Finlay’s “Tapout” tattoo, but who are we to argue that this isn’t the most unintentionally MMA show to ever grace Netflix.

Seán and Andy discussed the show at length over on Patreon if you’d like to listen to a more in-depth version. We would love to hear your opinions on which comparisons we got right, which we got wrong, and who you would choose. Be sure to let us know in the comment section over on Twitter!

Without further ado, we present you “Tiger King: MMA Edition”:

Joe Exotic: Conor McGregor

Who else could we have chosen for Joe Exotic but the “Notorious” one? Both men are the stars of their respective worlds. They’re controversial yet engaging despite their polarizing characteristics. They’re outspoken with a temper. They’ve both been known to sport eccentric hairstyles and extravagant clothing. That’s not all though, as it’s clear that both McGregor and Joe Exotic have political aspirations, if Conor’s recent social media activity is anything to go by. If that’s not enough for you, McGregor literally has a tiger tattooed across his torso. Conor McGregor is Joe Exotic.

Carole Baskin: Ronda Rousey / Diego Sanchez

Andy: Ronda Rousey. A very polarizing character. Some love her, some hate her, some misunderstand her. Never one to accept criticism well. The leading lady. Am I talking about Rousey or Baskin? I’m not sure, and that’s what makes her the perfect choice.

Seán: Diego Sanchez. Certain people have that crazy look in their eyes. As mad as a bag of spiders. Carole has that Diego look in her eyes, and anyone who wears flowers in their hair is crazy.

Doc Antle: Joshua Fabia / Jon Jones

Andy: Joshua Fabia. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. A snake oil salesman. A cult leader. Am I talking about Doc Antle or Fabia? You decide.

Seán: Jon Jones. Like Doc Antle, Jones is a cerebral madman.

Howard Baskin: Austin Vanderford / Brian Caraway

Andy: Austin Vanderford. Please refer to PVZ’s Instagram for further explanation. Like Baskin, Vanderford is overshadowed by his wife’s booming personality.

Seán: Brian Caraway. One half of a former power couple in MMA, Caraway was the co-main to Miesha Tate’s main event.

Jeff Lowe: Dana White

The obvious choice. Both Andy and Seán chose Dana White to play Jeff Lowe. A ruthless businessman that will do whatever it takes. In reality, this could have been a number of MMA promoters. Also, Jeff Lowe owns more Affliction gear than anyone in the history of MMA.

Don Lewis (RIP?): Demetrious Johnson / Miesha Tate

Andy: Demetrious Johnson. Like the disappearance of Don Lewis, you can look at it from two perspectives (dead or alive). The same can be said for “Mighty Mouse.” Either Dana White has “gotten rid of” Johnson—whose career has faded behind the media microscope over in Asia—or Johnson has escaped from the evil clutches of his former partner and is living out the rest of his career as the GOAT with much less stress in his life. Hat tip to Seán for pointing out the cat/mouse comparison between Carole/Demetrious also.

Seán: Miesha Tate. I’m willing to entertain the idea that Don Lewis escaped from his crazy wife Carole. Like Lewis, Tate moved on to greener pastures in recent years.

Kelci “Saff” Saffery: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone

It’s hard not to like Saff. In horrific circumstances, his arm was torn off by one of the tigers at the G.W. Zoo. Saff had to be rushed to hospital, and the damage was so severe that he was given the choice to either undergo multiple reconstructive surgeries over the course of 2 years or face an amputation. In what might be the most “company man” move of all time, Saff chose to lose his arm to avoid the media circus that would engulf Joe Exotic and the G.W. Zoo.

Now, who does that remind us of? The ultimate company man. A man who time and time again saves the UFC by fighting on short notice. A man who puts his own body and health on the line for the sake of Dana White, the UFC, and the fans. That man is Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.

Erik Cowie: Stephen Thompson / Nick Diaz

Andy: Wonderboy. The Nicest Mother Fucker (NMF) of the G.W. Zoo. All Cowie wants is to look after the tigers.

Seán: Nick Diaz. Cowie comes across like a complete stoner, but he seems like a nice guy underneath it. Who else could that be? Nick Diaz

John Reinke: Brandon Gibson

An apparently down-to-earth guy amidst constant chaos. If Reinke is along for the ride despite his best intentions with Joe Exotic, then Brandon Gibson is the John Reinke of Team Jon Jones.

John Finlay: Just Bleed Guy

John Finlay has a Tapout tattoo. He is the Just Bleed guy. That is all.

Rick Kirkham: Graeme McDonnell

Lastly, how could we not make the comparison between SevereMMA kingpin Graeme McDonnell and Rick Kirkham? Both men are along for the ride to document their “Notorious” subjects.

Well, there we have it, folks! Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, and don’t forget to check out the full episode over on Patreon:


Andy is a multimedia reporter, interviewer, writer, with a strong focus on Irish MMA. Co-host of The Auld Triangle podcast. Follow Andy on Twitter (@andyste123) and Instagram (@andystevensonMMA).

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