When I first heard that the UFC would be coming into my backyard and showcasing the heavyweight championship in their premiere event for FOX, I knew I had to be there to watch. As a Mexican-American, a Cain Velasquez fan, and a huge UFC fan, this seemed to be the perfect event to attend.
Let me begin by explaining my previous live UFC experiences, with my MMA fandom beginning when I saw UFC 87: GSP-Fitch. My first live event was UFC 104: Machida-Shogun followed by UFC 117: Silva-Sonnen, UFC 121: Lesnar-Velasquez, UFC 126: Silva-Belfort, and finally UFC 132: Cruz-Faber.
Things were just a bit different from the moment you got in line to get into the arena, as security was extra tight and "UFC on FOX" signs everywhere. My friend and I are not deep-pocketed so we sat in the upper tier, though center to the cage and able to look straight down into the action.
Like every other live event, people slowly filed in with nobody really paying much attention to the clinch-fest that was Rosa-Lucas. The next fight brought a few oo's and ahh's with "Bruce Leeroy" being the first fighter to get a loud crowd reaction...of boos. However, once the fight started the crowd definitely shifted and we were all cheering his attacking, showman style while also trying to figure out what Cole Escovedo was thinking.
Mackens Semerzier-Peralta brought the boo birds out again, as the replay clearly indicated the knockdown was due to an accidental headbutt and people became upset as Peralta celebrated. A minor pro-"Kid" reaction led to a long, quiet lull in the crowd's reaction as well all awaited the two top fights.
During the next four fights, the crowd reacted much louder to the entrance of UFC guests than the actual fights. Jason "Mayhem" Miller, Brock Lesnar, Allstair Overeem and Chuck Liddell garnered much appreciation from the crowd, with Carlos Condit, Josh Koscheck, Blink-182's Travis Barker and others coming into the arena without as much as a peep.
The biggest reaction? Well, of course, for "The Count" Michael Bisping. He choose not to enter the arena from the same place as the other VIPs and was greeted with a chorus of boos, even egging on the crowd with a few "bring-it-on" hand gestures.
Then things changed, the arena filled and the atmosphere turned electric soon after Dustin Poirier submitted Pablo Garza. Once they displayed Guida-Henderson on the big board, the crowd roared like it was the main event, with both fighters being cheered loudly, and boos seemingly non-existent during their entrances.
The fight had the crowd on the edge of its seat with all the exchanges and submission attempts, causing a huge reaction throughout. As the fights progressed, chants of Guida became less frequent, but both fighters were cheered for their fight of the year level performances.
For me, the moment when the UFC's montage set to "Teenage Wasteland" begins is what gets me going the most, and this event was no different. The hardest part of the entire night for those in attendance had to be the time between the end of the Clay Guida and Ben Henderson fight and the intros for the main event.
All the downtime was tough for the crowd, as many people got antsy and started to act a fool, with several people being escorted out of the arena around me. The UFC did air a couple of Velasquez-dos Santos hype videos during the FOX commercial breaks, which kept people aware of the event at hand.
Then came the fighters' entrances, with JDS entering to a chorus of boos from the very pro-Cain crowd despite the Rocky music. Velasquez entered to his customary music, though several people around mentioned he was seeming to show some nervousness during his walk to the Octagon.
From there we all know what happened. Despite the electric crowd and support, a new champion was crowned; a mixture of stunned and silent people combined with those excited to see the very personal dos Santos win.
The Brazilian's celebration speech was touching, though the emotions of the arena had already felt devastated when Big John pulled JDS off the reigning heavyweight champion.
Overall the event had the feel of a heavyweight championship, but lacked in the atmosphere at times due to the lack of a true undercard, as well as significant downtime. The high points for the crowd had to be the Guida-Henderson fight and the main event entrances.
Just being there will always be a memory for me, though I can understand why those watching and in attendance went home without the same feeling from other memorable UFC events.