Head to Head: Lessons Learned from Never Back Down 2


Last Friday, we did what all the twenty-somethings are doing: watch a movie about sweaty guys smothering each other with their calves. This film, Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown, contains a plethora of wisdom applicable to anyone’s life. This week’s Head to Head details the life lessons we took away from this straight-to-DVD masterpiece. You, dear reader, are welcome to decide whose life has been more enriched as a result.

Joe Anderson

After the movie ended, I initially thought the relationship between the two main characters didn’t make sense. When Zack (boxing guy) and Mike (high school wrestling guy) begin their tutelage under Michael Jai White to become awesome MMA dudes, the two are dicks to each other for no reason. Granted, it’s possible that I am unable to comprehend chest thumping between two alpha males because I don’t know how to do push-ups. However, by the end of the movie they are serious bros despite the fact they have every reason to hate each other.

Let me drop some drama on you: Mike starts crushing on Zack’s girlfriend and Zack’s girlfriend is generally receptive to said crushing because Zack treats her like shit. Then, later, Zack realizes that having a girlfriend is going to get in the way of all his stripper fucking so he dumps her via text. This causes formerly-Zack’s-girlfriend-now-nobody’s-girlfriend to 1) enter a state of emotional distress and 2) run to Mike for comfort and then they totally bang and start dating.

A lifetime of examining love triangles between pretty white people tells me that Zack should hate Mike for banging and then dating his ex and Mike should hate Zack for treating his love interest like garbage. But no! Their growing friendship is unphased by these Dawson’s Creek shenanigans!

And what knowledge have I gleamed from this? Simply that MMA conquers all. If you want to take a bromance to the next level, the best way to do this is to climb into the octagon with a buddy and try to wrap your legs around his torso while he tries to sit on both your elbows. Oh, and you get a free pass on being a douche to women if you’re training for an underground UFC tournament. That too.

Dominick Mayer

As Joe mentioned, both Mike and Zack’s lives are fraught with tension. They also look identical, which led me to believe that Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown might just be a cleverly subversive thesis on the mirrored edges of the male psyche, with Zach the stripper-fucking id and Mike the more sensitive, throat-punching ego. I also learned that MMA can help somebody deal with a gay family member. Seriously. Mike spends much of the film angry at his dad for coming out of the closet. However, later in the film, we learn that it’s not his dad being gay that Mike resents, but rather his resulting infidelity. After choking out several people with his thighs in a short space of time, Mike finds the courage to call his dad and begin to repair their frayed bond.

I also learned that weird kids are out to kill everybody. We see this through the cautionary tale of Justin, a weird kid. We know he’s a weird kid because he has swoopy bangs, works in a comic book store and gets turned down by a girl one time. After nearly getting mugged, Black Dynamite starts training him in MMA. Where the other three guys learn positive life lessons from punching sheets of paper and doing squat thrusts, though, Justin is corrupted by his new power. He also apparently starts taking steroids, because he ends up swole as fuck by film’s end. The movie also conveniently forgets that he beats a guy to death with a retractable cane at one point, because I mean, The Beatdown is coming and they have  to settle this shit in the ring. That is the only law that matters in the underground MMA world.

I also learned that if you roundhouse kick the shit out of, like, twenty cops, it’s cool as long as someone posts the video with one of them being racist on the internet. Because, I mean, racist cops deserve to be roundhouse kicked.

  • Never back down. Ever.

    I tell you what, I’ve been living my life based on the lessons I learned from the first one (to never back down), and its been working out great. I think you guys really captured something here. I can’t wait to sign up for MMA.