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Story Archives: UFC experience was a blast
|UFC experience was a blast|
I had never watched an entire Ultimate Fighting Championship event.
I had never been to a UFC fight.
Until Saturday, that is.
And it appears I could not have picked a better fight card to cut my teeth on.
My son, Jake, who fell in love with the sport five to six years ago, marked UFC 136 at the Toyota Center down when he saw hints of the match-ups for that night.
I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so I volunteered myself to take part in the action.
I wasn't a huge boxing fan growing up, but when Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Tyson or other headliners fought, I would make it a point to watch.
UFC is a combination of fighting and wrestling (no, not the fake kind).
Most boxers fight with 8-ounce boxing gloves with their hands wrapped with another 2-ounce of gauze and tape and when a boxers hands are wrapped it feels like a baseball. They are that hard. MMA fighters fight with 4-ounce gloves and they wrap their hands, but not as tight and with all the grabbing they do the wrapping gets loose.
There are kicks, which can be lethal. Those kicks to the legs take a lot of a fighter.
There are three 5-minute rounds, unless it is a championship fight, then there are five 5-minute rounds.
There is a lot of strategy. There are submission holds such as the chokes, arm submissions and leg submissions.
When applied to the opponent, choke submission holds constrict the carotid arteries, which reduces blood flow to the brain. This will cause the opponent to tap out. If he chooses not to tap, he will pass out within a few seconds.
Then, of course, there's the boxing part itself. So I was pretty familiar with all of this going in.
Jake, myself, my nephew Jarred and Jake's college roommate Ross made the drive and reservations at a place that had to be the locale for one of those Psycho movies. Then again, I think there was a shower head in that bathtub.
But we weren't there for a vacation.
Three hours after arriving (and watching the first half of the LSU-Florida game) we headed to the Toyota Center.
It was quite a night. I have watched some of the pay-per-view fights Jake ordered at the house and can see the attraction to the sport.
The first match was scheduled for 4:45 p.m., but actually started about 5:15 p.m. because one match after Dave Herman tested positive on a drug test. Good to see the organization is serious about this.
The arena was probably half full when the first warm-up fight between Steve Cantwell and Mike Massenzio took place.
Things really didn't start getting interesting until the fourth match when Joey Beltran took on Stipe Miocic.
I knew this by the Jake, Jarred and Ross sat up more in their seats.
Jake told me Miocic, who signed with the UFC in June, is the guy everyone is looking at as the next big name among heavyweights.
Miocic was able to outwork Beltran and earn a unanimous decision win.
There was very short time in-between matches. They would show fighters on the screen who were watching the fight. Rashard Evans, a very cocky fighter, was booed and it panned to the guy sitting next to him, Forrest Griffin, one of the most popular fighters, and everyone cheered. Griffin pointed at Evans and made a face to the delight of the audience.
Anthony Pettis took on Jeremy Stephens in the next match which was live on Spike TV.
You may have seen Pettis on ESPN highlights for what is now called the "Showtime Kick" in which he jumped against the side of the cage, springing of it with his right foot and kicking Ben Henderson in the face.
The fight was very close, with Stephens taking Round 1 and Pettis Round 2. With the fight even, it came down to the third. Both men put a lot into the final round, but Pettis was able to just barely pull ahead in the eyes of two judges. Pettis used more wrestling moves, although he did have a nice leg kick in there.
Pettis won 29-28 on two cards, while the other judge had Stephens winning 29-28.
Stephens walked right out of the ring after the decision, obviously upset. Every other fight had both fighters embracing after their fight, no matter how much or little the liked each other.
There are five fights that are shown on pay-for-view following the six preliminary events.
By the first pay-for-view, the Toyota Center was packed.
And most fans knew their UFC. They knew when it was time for the referee to break up the fighters for the most part, which is actually tough to judge because you never know when one will spring a submission hold on his opponent.
Melvin Guillard of New Orleans faced Joe Lauzon. Guillard came out in his familiar jumping up and down and in a frenzy presume warm-up.
Lauzon was all business.
Guillard came in the heavy favorite, presumed to be on his way to a Lightweight title shot.
It was the first fight that did not go three rounds.
The loss snapped Guillard's five fight win streak.
Guillard was really pumped up for this fight, and very disappointed after the loss, but gave Lauzon his props.
The fight of the night was Leonard Garcia versus Nam Phan. Phan won by unanimous decision. This one ended with both fighters flailing away at each other, which says a lot, because by the end of three rounds usually both fighters are gassed. This was a very aggressive fight by both fighters which had fans roaring throughout.
Phan took the fight 29-28 on all three scorecards, earning a measure of redemption for his controversial decision loss to Garcia last December.
Then it came time for Brian Stann against Chael Sonnen. Stann was awarded the Silver Star as a Marine and played football for Navy (middle linebacker, of course).
Sonnen fought the greatest fighter in UFC history, Anderson Silva, for the UFC Middleweight Championship on August 7, 2010. He trash-talked during the build-up, which caused some controversy when he said he was going to retire Silva and probably explained the boos when he walked out for the fight. That and the fact he has been suspended for failing drug test and being found guilty of money laundering. Because of the legal issues, Sonnen had not fought for more than a year.
Sonnen used his strength to force Stann to tap out in the second round to an arm-triangle choke. But it was what happened after the match that caused the biggest buzz.
Television analyst Joe Rogan enters the ring after each fight to talk to the winner and Sonnen did not hold any punches, directing his comments to Silva, who was sitting in the audience.
Sonnen told Silva he does something babies do to bottles and then proclaimed to Silva, "I beat you, you leave the division. "You beat me, I will leave the UFC forever."
Jose Aldo retained his championship by defeating Kenny Florian in a five-round unanimous decision. This match drew a few boos as there was a lot of inactivity, but still had its moments.
Then came what everyone was waiting for Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar giants Gray Maynard III.
Edgar was nearly knocked out in the opening round of the main-event bout of their second fight at UFC 125 earlier this year, which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. After losing the round 10-8 on all three judges' scorecards, Edgar valiantly battled back for the remaining four frames
The final four rounds were closely contested, and the fight was scored 48-46 Edgar, 48-46 Maynard, and 47-47, which resulted in a draw. Because of the draw, Edgar retained his title. Later that night, White announced there would be an immediate rematch and after injuries ensued both fighters, a date was set for their third bout.
That's what I like about White, he's more a fan than a boss. And you never know what's coming out of his mouth.
Saturday's fight was a lot like their January bout.
Sure enough, Maynard landed some shots, including a spot-on uppercut, on Edgar and had him reeling after a flying left knee that cut open Edgar's nose.
But Edgar survived the first round, got his wits about him in the second round.
Edgar started landing left-right combinations to climb back into the fight.
Edgar continued to land the combos at the start of the fourth round. Maynard went for a takedown and slipped, and Edgar took advantage, landing a hard upper cut.
One more right dropped Maynard to the mat, and Edgar hammered him with left hooks until referee Josh Rosenthal stopped it with just over a minute left in the round to the delight of the crowd, which screamed chants of "Frankie, Frankie, Frankie" throughout most of the fight.
After the fight, Maynard said, "He's a tough kid. If there was a bat there, I would've hit him with a bat. Hey Dana, where do you keep the bats in there?"
It was quite an introduction to the UFC. And quite entertaining.
I'm looking forward to the next one. Hopefully the Pyscho motels will be booked up.
|Frank Morris Murder Series|