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My UFC 77 Live Experience

When a big time UFC pay per view comes to your city and you’re as big of an MMA fan as I am, is there really a question in your mind that I wouldn’t be there? The best part? It cost me nothing.

I’m quite fortunate that a friend of mine’s sister knows a guy who works for the UFC. He told her a few months ago that he could get tickets, so I was like “Cool, I won’t buy any,” even though it wasn’t a sure thing. So, weeks pass, still no word on these tickets. Thursday comes and there’s still no word on these tickets. Friday comes and they’re leaving them at will call for us. But they’re not in my friend’s name, they’re in his sister’s name. So then we have to have his sister call the guy from the UFC and have him change the name on the tickets to my buddy’s name. Needless to say, I brought plenty of cash with me last night just in case these tickets didn’t pan out.

We ended up getting the name change done on the tickets, we roll downtown and head up to the Will Call line and there’s a special window for “UFC/ZUFFA Will Call.” That’s us, baby. There’s no line, of course, and my friend walks up, says his name, and they slide him a UFC envelope with two UFC 77 tickets inside of it. We’re in, baby!

Section 108, Seat 6. Sounded like Lower Bowl to me, but I didn’t really have any clue. I was just happy to have a seat and not have to pay a dime for it. So we wait in line and I listen to the most annoying know-it-all MMA fan ever in front of me. The guy couldn’t keep his yap shut, he was like a walking version of the Sherdog forums. He looked a lot like Kevin Smith, the director. Either way, he was annoying as all get out and I couldn’t wait to just get inside and see where we were sitting.

The seats turned out to be pretty sick. Even better! We were in the lower bowl, probably six rows from the floor, on the right hand side of the cage if you were looking at it from the entrance of U.S. Bank Arena. We were on the side with the cage door, which was also nice. Once I got in my seat, I checked out my ticket in detail. It read “COMP $0.00.” That’s how we roll! Much props go to my buddy Adam Lightfield and his sister for hooking up the tix and letting me roll with him.

Before the show starts, they’re showing UFC hype and playing some decent music. Some montages of fighters and KOs are being shown on the big screens, so at least they entertain you while you’re waiting for the show to start. At pretty much exactly 8:15, the lights dimmed and they played a bass beat over the speakers and synced the lights with it. Pretty cool effect to get you pumped up and then that old familiar music blared over the speakers and they showed the first fight matchup. Matt Grice v. Jason Black.

Great fight, back and forth. Grice was able to take Black down pretty easily throughout the fight and pound him. Grice tried multiple submissions throughout the first round but was unable to secure anything. When they were standing, they traded pretty good punches. Grice landed a huge left hand in the second round that dropped Black to the mat. At one point during the round, Black appeared to have Grice in a triangle and a kimura at the same time. Grice didnt’ tap, but was eventually mounted and Black was controlling one of his arms, allowing him to rain down punches on his head. I thought the fight might get stopped, but the horn sounded to end the round.

Grice looked like shit when he got up and stumbled back to his corner. In the third round he landed some good shots standing, took Black down, and ground and pounded his way to a decision victory. Best fight of the night.

Initially Bruce Buffer announced it as a draw, but during the post fight interview, he interrupted Rogan to let him know one of the judges’ scorecards was added up incorrectly. What a bunch of dumbasses. How does this happen? “It’s a draw, great fight, you guys! Wait a second, we made a mistake, Grice wins!” Idiots.

Here is one thing I’ve learned about UFC events. Whether you’re sitting in the stands or you’re on the floor next to the cage, you’ll be watching the big screens roughly 40%-50% of the time you’re there. The cameramen, the cage poles, and the cage itself make it hard to view the entire fight. This is true moreso when the fight goes to the ground. You cannot see the intricacies and technique of what is going on when they’re on the ground unless you watch the big screens. From time to time we had a very good view of what was going on, but for the most part, the big screens are obviously there for a reason.

At some point during the Black/Grice fight, someone spilled a beer behind us without my even noticing. It was everywhere. It was also at this point in time that the people beside of us would get up and go to the aisle for the first of what seemed to be 100 times. To complicate matters even further, she was wearing a boot on her foot and had crutches. So they get up, I’m trying to lean back and let them through and slipping on puddles of beer at the same time, basically almost busting my ass and breaking her other foot. Thanks for the heads up on the beer, assholes. I don’t care that you spilled it, accidents happen, but at least give me a heads up.

Burkman v. Petz was an entertaining fight. I thought Petz won, but I was wrong, Burkman won a split decision. Petz’s body shots are beast. He had Burkman gassed midway through the second round. “The People’s Warrior” didn’t win over anyone with his performance on Saturday.

They moved the fights along at a really good pace, not much time in between. Once they shuffled the fighters out of the cage, it was on to the next fight.

Ryan Jensen basically got tooled by Demian Maia. Maia sunk in a rear naked choke rather easily, fight is over. Maia should get a better opponent next time.

McDonald and Okami are up next and I think everyone is expecting a snoozer and that’s exactly what we got. Lots of boos during this fight, unfortunately. The booing was a little much on Saturday. Not like UFC 73 booing, but it was a bit much. Either way, this fight was lots of clinching on the cage, a decent amount of standup, and Okami ground and pouding from McDonald’s guard.

McDonald actually came up and sat right behind us after his fight was over. During the Sylvia/Vera fight he said something to the effect of the fact that all the boos during the fight didn’t make him feel as bad about the boos he heard during his fight. That’s a shame, because nobody has the right to boo these guys. They have the nuts to step into the cage and fight another human being for 15 minutes, something a lot of us, including myself, will probably never do. I turned around to Jason and told him he fought a good fight and that he should be proud of just getting in the cage and laying it on the line.

Between the main card and the undercard, there was a little ten minute break where they showed a montage of all kinds of UFC fighters and played “Teenage Wasteland” by The Who. It was the perfect little segway between the fights to get you ready for the main card and the PPV portion of the fights. Nice touch by the UFC.

Alan Belcher vs. Kalib Starnes opened up the pay per view. This was a good fight and a muay thai clinic put on by Belcher. The gash on Starnes’ forehead at the end of the fight looked like a coin slot on a vending machine. Just nasty stuff. The whole crowd “Oooooh”ed when they showed it on the big screen. Justified doctor stoppage in my opinion, even if Kalib wanted to continue.

Stephan Bonnar then dominated Eric Schafer. Bonnar was impressive on Saturday, he took the fight to Schafer, who is no slouch and a real ground master. Bonnar is very underrated and I look to see him get a step up in competition next time around. He’s destroyed his past two opponents and deserves a step up. Wouldn’t we all like to see Griffin/Bonnar 3 eventually?

Jorge Gurgel absolutely just choked on the big stage in front of a supportive “hometown” crowd. He kept going for a sloppy armbar and paying for it. He won round one but had no answer for Robinson in round two. He did nothing to control his posture and went for that sloppy armbar for 10 minutes. As a result, his face looked like deli meat afterward. Needless to say, the Cincinnati fans were disappointed and so was Jorge. Oh well, at least we had Vera/Sylvia to look forward to, right?

Wrong. One of the most boring fights I hav ever seen. Outside of a few kicks from Vera, one that sounded like a gunshot, and a few flurries of punches from Sylvia, most of this fight was spent on the cage in the clinch. I thought they were going to start making out at one point. Sylvia’s posse was in front of me and they all had on “Tim Sylvia: Born To Fight, Live To Hunt” shirts on. I couldn’t stop laughing. How can you even be a fan of this guy? He used to be exciting but he’s just not that same fighter anymore.

As for Vera, well, he was a disappointment. Broken hand or not, the outcome would have been the same.

And then, ladies and gentlemen, it was time for the main event of the evening. You think Bruce Buffer gets you pumped up at home? Being there is a whole other story. There’s something that you don’t see on television that Buffer does when he’s introducing the fighters. He turns to each of them and points to them and emphasizes with his little card as he’s saying his little speel, getting them all revved up and pumped up for the fight. It’s pretty sweet.

Even sweeter when the guy is a UFC superstar and he’s from the town you’re in. Needless to say there was a lot of electricity in the air for the fight. Cincinnati wanted to will Rich Franklin to victory. If he would have won, I’m almost positive that the roof would have popped off the building. You couldn’t hear anything when he was walking out except for the music and the fans.

Another ironic thing was that Franklin wore the colors of the Cincinnati Bengals and, ironically, Silva wore the colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bengals’ main rival in their division. We usually get our teeth kicked in by the Steelers, so it was quite fitting.

It wasn’t meant to be for Cincinnati or Franklin. What is there to be said about Silva? The guy’s a monster. His striking is pinpoint accurate, he works angles, and outside of about three minutes of the first round, the fight was a carbon copy of the first fight. Surgically vicious, as Matt Cava would say. Rich’s only chance was to take Silva down, which he did easily in the first round, but it never came to fruition.

Rich fought well for the most part. He avoided the thai plum very well, except for the end when he ate a knee. You could tell he had worked extensively on trying to control Anderson’s arms and keep him from getting into position to land knees and elbows from the thai plum. Anderson Silva was just too skilled, too quick, and too dangerous. Who’s next if not Dan Henderson?

We dipped out of there as soon as Rich lost, not sticking around to hear Cincinnati boo Anderson Silva. Did they boo him? I haven’t had a chance to watch yet.

Overall, a fun event even if my hometown guys didn’t win. Always fun to see world class mixed martial arts live, especially in your hometown.

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