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Tom fondly recalls a neighbor kid now a UFC rising star, which happens to be one of our columnist’s least favorite sports

I have a dilemma ... or maybe it's a quandary. It could even be a predicament or a plight, something Donald Trump would call a "mental owie." Fortunately, it's of the First World variety, so whichever way it turns out, it won't really matter a whole lot.

First, some background: When we bought our first house, it was in a brand-new subdivision with one of those dumb-ass names that have nothing to do with living in the desert. You know, Bubbling Brook Glen or Cool Summer Breeze Meadow. It was a great neighborhood, peaceful and quiet, the kind of neighborhood that parents from other parts of town take their kids to for trick-or-treating on Halloween.

Down the street, in a cul de sac, lived a family with two young girls, Colleen and Cortney. For reasons I never really understood, the younger one, Cortney, who had dimples big enough to hold rain, went by the name Kika (pronounced Kee-kah so as not to sound anti-Semitic.) They were around my kids' ages, so the four of them would spend weekends and summer days doing appropriately silly things.

One time, my kids and the Kikas (as they were collectively known) were doing the Slip-n-Slide over at their house. Cortney came running to our house to tell me that (my daughter) Darlene had hurt herself. Darlene had slid off the end of the mat and jammed her foot. Darlene had a softball game that night and I told her that she should probably skip it. She insisted that she wanted to play, so I taped her ankle and she played the game. After the game was over, she said that it still hurt. I took her to Urgent Care and it turned out that she had a broken leg.

Major parental oops.

When they were heading into middle school, the Kikas moved to Scottsdale but they kept in touch with my kids. One time, (my son) Alexander and I drove up to watch Cortney's high-school soccer team play in the state championships. She eventually got a scholarship to play soccer at UTEP and we got to see her play against the UA.

After college, she got into martial arts and got married (which means that she also got into marital arts).

Here comes the second part of the dilemma. I love most sports. A few I tolerate and some I can't stand. Like when I was watching the Olympics a couple weeks ago, I saw archery and I wanted to scream. Those people don't use bows and arrows; they use these ridiculously sophisticated contraptions that have stabilizers and high-tech sights. You know what would be great? They should have all of the competitors show up empty-handed. There would be a rack of identical bows and a giant quiver of arrows that had been purchased at Dick's or at Wal-Mart. Grab your stuff and let's go. Then we'd find out who the best archer is (not who has the best equipment).

I generally don't like sports that need judges to tell us who won. I came to that realization after watching "Stick It," a movie that has Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges jumping on (and falling off) a trampoline. (The movie has other stuff, too.) I don't like diving or rhythmic gymnastics or synchronized swimming.

I also shy away from sports where people end up throwing chairs and those where the contestants start a fight at the pre-game press conference. So, no WWE wrestling and I swore off boxing a few decades ago. Some of my friends love MMA, but until recently, the only experience I had with that was the movie Here Comes the Boom, in which Kevin James plays a slacker-ish high school teacher who gets into the octagon to help save the school's music program, which, in turn, could help him when he hits on the school nurse. I know it sounds awful, but it has Henry Winkler in it; they use Neil Diamond's "Holly Holy" as their entrance music before each fight; and the school nurse is played by Salma Hayek.

I think I've seen every movie Salma Hayek has ever made, except for, of course, Frida. They tell me that she looks just like Frida Kahlo in the movie and I've got this strange fear of caterpillars.

Anyway, the other night, my son turned on the TV and asked me to sit down. There on the giant screen, on the undercard of UFC 202 in Las Vegas, was Cortney "Cast Iron" Casey. It was so cool to see the little punky Tucson kid from down the street beating the crap out of some woman with unnaturally red hair.

I went online to look up her record. She's 6-3 and a rising star in the sport. Apparently, she won two of her fights by something called "Rear-Naked Choke." I'm glad I didn't see those fights. I've known her since she was a little kid and that would be weird, even if she was doing it to the other person.

Alexander wants the two of us to go see her next fight in person. It would be great to see the Kikas, but we'll have to buy four seats so we won't have to sit next to anybody. Have you seen the people who go to those things?

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