In any Sunday school class, in a typical LDS ward, it is common to hear members of the Church share their feelings about certain passages of scripture that have helped them on their spiritual paths, strengthened them in times of need, and given them comfort or peace when life was stormy all around them. It is also common to hear comments about various quotes from past and current prophets which have had similar effects on the lives on members of the Church. What is less common is a careful analysis of who, among all the ancient prophets and righteous men and women in the scriptures, would be most likely to emerge victorious in a no-holds-barred fighting competition. I hope to rectify the dearth of attention given to the octagon right now.
There are countless tales of bravery, cunning, and combat skillz throughout the scriptures, and a complete listing of all possible combinations is a task beyond the scope of this post. However, below is a rundown of several characters of interest, starting with the least likely to survive a no-holds-barred tournament.
23. Anyone Whose Last Name is Anti-Nephi-Lehi
This is the Ultimate Church Fighting Championship, guys. Not the Ultimate Church Pacifist Championship. Sheesh.
Despite all of our best efforts to get Nehemiah to join the fray, his publicist kept saying he had something really important to do and couldn’t come down to fight.
21. James aka Son of Thunder 1
20. John aka Son of Thunder 2
19. Peter aka The Rock
While there is not much to go on in terms of fighting prowess among the chief Apostles, Kyle M rightly points out that the names of these men alone deserve consideration.
18. The wives of Lehi’s sons.
Man! They were sure tough in the wilderness!
17. Samuel the Lamanite
Excellent defense, sure. But the man showed no competence when it comes to actually taking your opponent down.
15. & 16. Levi & Simeon, Tag Team
This update about brothers taking down the mohel is necessary for two reasons:
First, the episode of Seinfeld about the mohel is hilarious.
Second, their response to Jacob’s stress after they killed the mohel is stellar: “Should our sister be treated like a whore?“
14. Captain Moroni
For all of the rhetoric we find in the last chapters of Alma, there’s actually very little evidence that Moroni was a tough guy. Spiritual giant? Yes–causes the powers of darkness to tremble and all that jazz. Great leader? Yes–Title of Liberty, rallying the people. Fearless negotiator? Yes. After that standoff with Zarahemnah, Moroni could probably have talked Samuel L. Jackson down. But Tough Guy? Show me the evidence, cuz I’m not seeing it.
13. Charlton Heston, aka Moses
Very similar to Captain Moroni here. All evidence suggests that Moses probably could have been a tough guy, but he was too ensconced in divine power for us to really know what he was capable of.
12. Gideon aka Feller of Trees (HT: Steve Evans, Blain, John Hamer)
Gideon’s worthiness in this battle is well documented.
UPDATE!! (HT: NCNT)
“…and the Dirt Came Out” is sufficient for me.
10. David aka The Rockchuck
David is a little bit of an interesting case, because we have the classic Quantity-Quality dispute. Everyone knows that David beat Goliath the giant with a well place stone to the forehead. Problem is, no one knows whether or not the whole stone-to-the-head thing is the sort of feat could have been repeated or whether it was complete luck. For all we know, that could have been the Ancient Israel equivalent of making a full-court shot during the half-time competition at a basketball game–it’s great, and you get free hamburgers for life, but no one actually thinks you could do it again. In fact, I don’t personally believe that it’s beyond the realm of possibility that, faced with the prospect of dueling with, say, Gideon or Helaman, the Psalmist would have turned tail and run, or perhaps called for a substitute fighter (Hey, Uriah ol’ buddy! I got a task for you…)
(Have you ever thought about how similar Goliath and Fezzik are? Seriously–think about all the lines Fezzik has in The Princess Bride, and you can totally see Goliath saying the same things. For example:
David: Goliath, how ’bout a rock to your head?
Goliath: If you do, I’ll be dead.
David: I think the odds are slightly in your favor at hand fighting.
Goliath: It’s not my fault being the biggest and the strongest. I don’t even exercise.
Goliath: I just figured why you give me so much trouble.
David: Why’s that, do you think?
Goliath: Well, I haven’t fought just one person for so long. I’ve been specializing in groups. Battling gangs for local charities, that kind of thing.
David: Why should that make such a difference?
Goliath: Well, you see, you use different moves when you’re fighting half a dozen people than when you only have to be worried about … one.
Anyway, back to the point.)
Impressive resume, to be sure, but he’s really kind of like King Hippo in the old Punch-Out video game, except that instead of a big belly, it’s long hair. Samson would do well initially, but the second someone decides to pull his hair, he’ll hit the mat like a cold pancake.
8. The Sons of Helaman
I know, I know–they were stellar in battle, and none of them perished, so they should be higher up on the list, right? Wrong. UCF is not about killing–it’s about not having to tap out, and the record plainly shows that many of the Stripling Warriors indeed did have to tap out.
7. Jael, wife of Heber
After mass (okay, two people) protests, it has come to my attention that Jael has been unforgivably omitted from my analysis. While I point out that my introductory paragraphs make clear that this list is not exhaustive, I can admit that any woman who puts a spike in a dude’s head deserves more consideration than I gave her. (Heber C. Kimball polygamy jokes sold separately)
6. Lazarus aka The Zombie
This is a controversial pick, because there is actually no record of Lazarus ever engaging in any sort of battle or combat. However, we know one very important thing about him: the dude just won’t stay
dead down. This will serve him well in the octagon, perhaps into the quarterfinals, but ultimately the swords of Coriantumr or Nephi will be his undoing. No doubt, he’ll still be left calling after them as they walk away victorious.
4. (tie) Coriantumr aka Teh Shiz
The Good: Few, if any, passages of scripture display more pure grit (and gore!) than the last moments of the Jaredite wars and his epic duel with Shiz.
The Bad: He appears to have shown signs of wussiness before the final go-round with Shiz. In fact, a reasonable person could interpret his multiple attempts at striking a truce with Shiz as the Jaredite version of tapping out. Any such soft moments in the octagon would spell disaster, so Coriantumr must gird up his loins a little tighter and knock off this treaty-talk if he wants to take home the trophy.
4. (tie) Nephi, son of Lehi aka The Sword of Laban
There is some debate about where or not Nephi is truly worthy to be in this competition at all. He was overpowered on multiple occasions by his brothers–who, by all other accounts, were whiny, petulant sissies in their own right–and required divine help in nearly every case to escape: Pre-Laban spat with bros, on the boat, etc… Even his great act of courage–going back to get the brass plates alone–ended with a giant thud when big bad Laban was clearly NOT in top fighting condition. However, after much deliberation, I have decided that Nephi gets a pass because of, among other things, bowhunting skillz,
computer head hacking skillz, and because all of the gospel art pictures from Primary depict him as a big burly dude that I totally wouldn’t mess with.
While both Nephi and Coriantumr would likely make their way through the first rounds of any tournament without much trouble, the problem will come when they face each other. After duking it out for several minutes, it’s plain to see that this would have to be a Rocky 2 ending, except that when they cut each others’ heads off, neither will be getting up. In addition to being a nasty affair, this dual-death likely would cause an unexpected hole in the bracket, and cause mass confusion while organizers try to rearrange things so that BYU won’t have to play on Sunday.
3. Teancum aka Jeanclaudonri Van Doriancumer
The evidence of worthiness: In addition to taking out the baddest brothers in the Book of Mormon not named Laman and Lemuel, Teancum is generally recognized as the only certified Navy SEAL in the Book of Mormon, and helped launch a successful movie career for Jean-Claude Van Damme.
(It’s common knowledge that nearly every Van Damme movie is based on the various exploits of Teancum during the war chapters in Alma.)
(The only apparent exception to this is that awful hockey movie, because, according to most experts, the Nephites weren’t really into bad films or hockey. However, this is not entirely true–There actually was a small group of hockey-loving Nephites. However, they had a falling out with their soccer-loving brethren, and, with Hagoth as their leader, sailed north in search of colder temperatures, eventually becoming Canadians.)
I don’t think that anyone disputes Teancum’s bravery, stealth, or special tactics–indeed, he is, as far as I’m aware, the only person in the scriptures to have demonstrated use of a grappling hook. As such, it would be easy to envision Teancum going all the way through the UCF Tournament undefeated. However, two factors weigh against him in the final analysis. First, both of his (still courageous) victories were over people that were…well…asleep. Second, he demonstrated a tendency to have bad aim in the clutch. These realities doom Teancum’s chances, because he could certainly not expect to find a drowsy, large-hearted opponent in …
The Final Battle
1. (tie) The She-Bear
1. (tie) Ammon
The fighting records of these two individuals speak for themselves, and I will not declare the winner. Talk amongst yourselves.