48 Hours at UFC 90

Derek BolenderSenior Analyst IOctober 27, 2008

Friday, October 24th (Weigh In Day):

My brother Drew and I purchased tickets to UFC 90 and also decided to drive to downtown Chicago to view the weigh-ins the day before the event and take in as much of the UFC festivities as possible.
The weigh-ins are always free and open to the public.  We also find out some other events and appearances that are going on around town and in the suburbs throughout the weekend.
There was an autograph session at Swissotel with Dan Henderson, Clay Guida, Rashad Evans, and Miguel Torres that had already taken place before we left that we missed.
We also learn that Joe Rogan typically books a stand up comedy gig the night before all of the UFC events.  This time was no different.  He was slated to appear at Zanies in the suburb of Vernon Hills, IL later Friday evening.
There was also a huge list of after parties after the actual event on Saturday that we will not be able to attend.  After parties scheduled included Anderson Silva at Crobar, Rachelle Leah at Enclave, Xtreme Couture featuring Randy Couture, Martin Kampmann, Gina Carano, Tyson Griffin, etc... at Moda, Joe Rogan at Manor, Spencer Fisher at The Fifty, and Sell/Clementi featuring Matt Serra at Rednofive.
We decide our best bet was to attend an appearance by Matt Hughes and Robbie Lawler promoting the "One More Round" clothing line at Nordstrom's in Oak Brook, IL on Friday night after the weigh-ins.
12:00 pm (CT) - We set sail from Bloomington, IL and make the two hour plus drive north to downtown Chicago.  We end up finding a parking garage about three or four blocks away from the theatre and start walking.
2:15 pm - We arrive at the Chicago Theatre.  The line is already probably 100-150 deep in the adjacent alley and we file into the back of it.  Everyone in line is anxious and decked out in their UFC sweatshirts, Tapout T-shirts, etc...
My brother noticed about eight identical SUV's further down the alley and some people getting out of one of them.  At a distance it looked like Sean Sherk stepped out and he was ushered into the back of the theatre.
3:00 pm - The doors open and we finally are free to go in.  The UFC has set up their merchandise in the lobby and I can hear the UFC countdown show being played on the huge big screen in the theatre.  We are free to sit anywhere so we go to the floor level but there is not much room left.
My brother headed up to the balcony, saw Dan Henderson being ushered up the stairs on the way, and called me on my cell phone to say I should come to the balcony level.  I got up to the balcony and it essentially hung over all the way up to the front of the stage.  Hardly anyone else figured out that the balcony was likely the best spot to be.
4:00 pm - The weigh-ins began with an introduction of Joe Rogan and a loud cheer from the crowd.  He immediately introduced Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, and Joe Silva.  Michael Buffer was also there on stage.
Rogan then announced the entire fight card in order.  One by one the fighters came out, disrobed, and stepped on the scale.  Their weights were announced to the crowd, they posed for pictures, and proceeded over to Dana White to do the customary stare down with their opponent.
4:30 pm - The weigh-ins are over already and we have left.  There were a few memorable moments like Josh Burkman missing weight, Fabricio Werdum looking extremely out of shape, Sean Sherk and Josh Koscheck getting predictably booed by the crowd, and Anderson Silva and Patrick Cote choosing to do their stare down forehead to forehead.
5:45 pm - We arrived in Oak Brook which is about 20 miles away from downtown after sitting through rush hour traffic for what seemed like an eternity.  The line is only about twenty deep when we arrive so we were in good shape.
6:00 pm - Matt Hughes and Robbie Lawler were ushered out by security to their booth.  We quickly made our way up through the line.
I shook hands with Lawler and we posed for a picture.  Lawler was about the same height as me at 5'10" but he was built like a rock.  I asked him if he was going to come back to the UFC and he replies, "we're not sure yet."  I then asked him if the UFC was a possibility and he said "yes."  He signed an autograph and I proceeded to shake Matt Hughes' hand.
Hughes looked smaller in stature than I had anticipated.  We took a picture together and I asked him how his knee was feeling and if he would be fighting Matt Serra in April 2009.  He said his knee is feeling "great" and that he will indeed be facing Serra in April.  He signed an autograph and I wished him luck in April.
7:00 pm - We proceeded to the home of our relatives about 30 miles away in the northwest suburbs in West Chicago for the night.
Saturday, October 25th (Fight Day)
5:30 pm - My brother and I headed for the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, which was about 20 miles from West Chicago.
6:15 pm - We arrived at the arena and saw "UFC 90: Silva vs. Cote" on the marquee sign just to the north of I-90.  We paid $20 to park and went through the ticket line and security.  My brother had to return to the car to put back the video recorder, which was not allowed in, and I stood and admired the $7.50 beer and $8.50 mixed drink signs while I waited.
We headed up the stairs to find section 201 and find seats 27 and 28.  We were in the upper bowl, however, the Allstate Arena seats around 20,000 people and the view was extremely good and pretty close to the action.
There were also six enormous HD quality projection screens, three on each end of the arena, that showed the actual broadcast of the event shown on pay-per-view.    
The music was blaring and there were UFC highlights being shown on all the screens and it felt like a rock concert.
As I gazed down around the octagon I saw Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan on camera likely discussing what was about to transpire.  The crowd was about half full at this point.


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*** All pictures shown over at TopGunMMA within the article were taken by me along with the picture above.
*** To view all my UFC 90 pictures find me on facebook.