Lupe Fiasco Beating a Pro Street Fighter Champion Is the Best Thing Since “The Cool”

For Street Fighter nerds there’s no feeling like the rush of a tie game, 1 round for each side, fighting for the final round to claim dominance of the sticks over whoever was brazen enough to challenge you. That’s exactly what it came down to with Lupe Fiasco versus Daigo Umehara, a Japanese professional gamer and the best Street Fighter player in the world. This was a dream, Ken versus Ryu, and it went down in such epic fashion that fans were calling a farce, accusing that the fight was a staged flop like Apollo Creed after Rocky went the distance.

And really, I thought it was too. That was my first thought, at least — it had to be fake, right? I mean, if Lupe beats the best Street Fighter player in the world it gives a whole new credibility to his nerd status — credibility that really isn’t even needed. In fact, to fans like me, the fight held more risk than it was worth. What if Lupe got worked? What if Daigo merked him with a perfect? Two perfects? Three? I didn’t want to stomach that from a hero who raps bars about my favorite video game of all time. But instead of fulfilling my fears, Lupe came through in the Street Fighter equivalent of Holly Holm knocking out Ronda Rousey in UFC 193.

The exhibition was scheduled for 5 matches, the standard 3 rounds each. You can watch the video below — and I encourage you to do so, because it’s even more glorious than I can describe — but in summary, Lupe won the first match in the final round, lost the next two, won the fourth to push it to one grand final match, and then upset the world with a Final Round comeback win. And that final-round comeback? It was like a movie. Daigo came out strong and worked Lupe half to death before Lupe, amazingly calm under pressure, came through with a flurry of aerial attacks and an ever-reliable throw that brought the match to a next-hit-wins stage. And Lupe won, y’all. We argue King of the Nerds often, but my god, this is Lupe stronger than any nerd bars he’s ever spit. And he’s spit many.

Lupe and Daigo’s exhibition was organized after a Twitter exchange only a few weeks ago, and was quickly set up to be streamed via Twitch. Was it staged? Did Daigo pump his brakes before crossing the finish line, ensuring a dramatic and exciting upset for our honorable underdog? Maybe. Umehara’s camp and Mad Catz promise the match’s legitimacy, albeit an exhibition. Either way, between the commentators and the new release of Street Fighter V, watching this fight might be the nerdiest fun you have all week.

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  • Jordan Calhoun is a writer in New York City. His forthcoming debut book "Piccolo Is Black" is a celebration of the common adaptations we made while non-diverse pop culture helped us form identities. He holds a B.A. in Sociology and Criminal Justice, B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Japanese, and an M.P.A. in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy. He might solve a mystery, or rewrite history. Find him on Instagram and Twitter @JordanMCalhoun

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