There is nothing quite like seeing the UFC live. As a sports radio host for the past 12 years, I’ve found myself in some pretty cool places. I’ve covered 4 Super Bowls, The World Series, All-Star Games, and about 75 world title boxing matches. It has been a lot of fun.
This past Saturday night I was in Anaheim for UFC 121. For the most part, I enjoy watching the fights at home or at a bar with some buddies because you have the best seat for the action, and I like to hear what Joe Rogan, or Stephen Quadros have to say. I’m like a lot of you in the sense that many aspects of MMA are still new, so if I can enjoy the fights, plus learn a little strategy, I am cool with that.
I wanted to go to 121 for a lot of reasons. Tito Ortiz and Diego Sanchez were on the card. I wanted to see how Jake Shields would handle the weight cut to 170lbs, and most of all I wanted to see Brock Lesnar. My uncle was a high school wrestling coach in Minnesota for 30 years, and I remember when he started talking about Lesnar during Brock’s time at the University of Minnesota. I saw him in the WWE, and then followed him as he tried the NFL, and finally MMA.
I like Lesnar, and I think he is good for the sport because of his personality. There are plenty of good fighters, but how many of them would you pay to see? GSP for sure is a guy that would get a lot of votes, and I agree, but for me Lesnar was the one guy I wanted to see live. Plus, he was facing Cain Velasquez who many experts thought had the skills to beat Brock.
Have you ever been to a concert from a big-named band and just had the feeling when you walked in the door, you were going to see something different? That was the feeling at Honda Center.
Ortiz looked old, Diego looked good, and Shields looked like a guy who should be fighting at 185 instead of 170. Next it was time for the main event, and while the crowd was mostly for Velasquez, when “Enter Sandman” by Metallica started playing letting you know Lesnar was on the way to the cage, you couldn’t hear yourself think. It was a combination of boos, cheers, and bass guitar and it was as crazy as anything I have had the chance to see as either a fan, or a member of the media.
(On a side note, you should go to one UFC event, just to watch Bruce Buffer. I’m not really sure why they don’t show Buffer on the broadcast because he is classic)
When I talked to friends before the fight, it was almost a 50/50 split on who would win. Friends that were just fans, almost all picked Lesnar. Friends that were involved in the sport almost all picked Velasquez. I have toned down my sports betting, but you learn early to stay away from people that are too close to the sport, because they pick with their heart, not their head. That was not the case Saturday night–the experts knew what they were talking about.
Outside of a cool ring entrance, and one flying knee, Lesnar looked like a guy over-matched. Velasquez couldn’t miss, and less than 5 minutes after the opening bell, he was the new champion. An interesting question was asked to Dana White in the post-fight press conference. When asked if he heard Brock “verbally tap out”, White said he wasn’t sure, but thought he heard it. Herb Dean, who was the referee for the fight, is our guest on this weekend’s Clinch Gear Radio, so we will ask him if Lesnar quit. Was it the greatest UFC card of all time? Maybe not, but if you were there live, it was pretty damn good.