Last night, I had the privilege to blog from ringside for the duration of Ultimate Fight Night 20 in Fairfax, Va.
Being a Virginia native and resident, this was the first chance for my state and myself to witness the beauty and spectacle of the Ultimate Fighting Championship live and in person. It truly is incredible.
Fancying myself a writer, I want to use a more impressive and original word than "incredible", but in this case it's the appropriate choice.
The first fight, Nick Catone vs. Jesse Forbes, was a split-decision brawl and the first time I had ever laid my eyes on mixed martial arts in the flesh. It definitely has a different feel to it when you hear leather slap skin with your own ears and not just your television speakers reproducing the sound. It's loud, it's scary, and it's thrilling.
I saw the fighters faces after their bouts and I'm telling you, whatever money they make, they are earning every penny. They are puffy, bruised, and tired. They train for months and leave everything they have in that cage. Joe Rogan was right to reprimand the crowd for booing (even if Tom Lawlor did win that fight, and from where I was sitting, it looked like he did).
While I'm on that, you guys missed his intro and it was the best one ever. If you say another one was better, I'm not even going to debate you. It wasn't.
When "I am a Real American" hit the speakers and Lawlor stepped out waving the American flag, ripping off his shirt and cupping his ear, man, he WAS Hulk Hogan! Lawlor-mania was running wild!
I spoke to Lawlor briefly after his fight and he was disappointed in the decision, but I think he knew he fought a war out there and that the crowd was behind him.
Speaking of the crowd being behind them, Amir Sadollah had the place in an uproar with his hometown-ness. Afterward, he said, "It was the first time in my life that I had a crowd chanting my name. I was so glad I can fight here in Virginia. The crowd was unbelievable."
Thank goodness he won, I think the crowd may have rioted if he didn't.
Being up close, I realized that it is pretty hard to score the fights in the middle of all the bedlam going on. They gave us copies of the judges score cards after each fight and although there were a few who seemed like they had no idea what they were watching, I sympathized more than usual with their plight.
I also sympathized with poor Nik Lentz, who got his manhood absolutely racked with low blows only to get a very questionable draw decision.
He said, "The second time it was a full-blown Muay Thai kick to my groin. I have a metal cup on and there's a crack down the middle of it. There's no doubt in my mind that he did it on purpose. I would fight him again, but I know he'd never do it. I don't understand how it could be a draw. Even if the third round was a draw, I still won the fight."
And he did. The third round was a draw (mostly due to the fact that he nearly has his testicles kicked off and that's bound to take a little something off of your game), but he won the first two rounds clearly.
I'm also sorry you guys didn't get to see Chris Leben. He completely dominated Jay Silva for three rounds and the crowd was LOVING it.
He had this to say, "Every time I go out there, I look for the knock out, but the strategy was working so well and I needed this win so badly that I decided to stay with the ground game."
I'm glad for him.
Speaking of being glad for someone, there must be some kind of rule that I don't know about that says press people aren't allowed to clap or act like they are enjoying what's going on. Nobody around me clapped or cheered or anything.
I did, though. C'mon. That's CHRIS LEBEN, dude! He's RIGHT THERE! Are your hands broken? Then put those things together!
And what was up with the crowd booing Maynard and Diaz? Yeah, nobody got knocked out, but those guys swung at each other for three rounds. That's not an easy thing to do.
By the time I pulled in my driveway at four in the morning, I was completely toast. But would I do it again today if I had the chance? You'd better believe it.