Monday, October 25, 2010

Inside The Storm - My Report From UFC 121

I am sure those of you who know me are waiting for me to eat crow after Brock Lesnar's annihilation at the hands of Cain Velasquez. I will give my thoughts on that I promise but since I attended I have a lot to get to.

When we arrived at our hotel we checked in and received our room key. I went into the room only to be greeted by another family's belongings. Clearly this room was still occupied. To make it up to us the hotel gave us all free breakfast coupons for the following morning. After eating said breakfast, I really wish they would have smashed my balls with a hilariously over-sized mallet instead. Gallagher style!

We arrived at the arena about 45 minutes before the fights and I was blown away again by the kindness of the UFC. Our free tickets were 10 or so rows off the floor, eye level with the cage. The first prelim video fired up and we were off and running.

John Madsen and Gilbert Yvel were first up. and after at least a minute of nothing Madsen secured a big takedown against the cage and got a quick TKO victory. I was surprised to see Madsen get a finish but I took it as a good omen. I told my Mom (who incidentally loves Brock Lesnar more than me I think) "this is a good sign for Team DeathClutch."

Chris Camozzi and Dongi Yang was up next and my pre-fight thoughts were "Damn that guy has shitty tattoos" and "Damn I can't believe that dude has fought at heavyweight before". Dongi Yang also came out to this mindfuck of a techno song. It was bouncy and bubbly and catchy as shit and I couldn't shake it from my brain until i heard "Enter Sandman". The crowd definitely was into this fight. I scored it live for Dongi Yang 29-28 but it was really dependent on how the 2nd round was scored. I could see either way. Yang showed really nice counter punching but he gassed like Akiyama times 12.

Mike Guymon received a very nice reception from the crowd as the arena was starting to fill up at this point. Too bad Daniel Roberts worked him over and got his Submission Of The Night with that Anaconda Choke. Very impressive.

Sam Stout and Paul Taylor was incredibly disappointing to me. The fight went exactly as everyone figured it would but it felt underwhelming. I cannot explain exactly why but it just felt flat and weird. I also thought Paul Taylor won that fight but I certainly can see it for Stout too. I just thought Paul Taylor was busier with his kicks and landed more but who knows. I did have a seriously delicious view of the cameraman's ass all night long. Perhaps I was distracted. No homo.

The SpikeTV broadcast was set to start soon so we had about 15 minutes to power party before Tom Lawlor and Patrick Cote took the stage.

Due to time constraints or something we didn't get to see if Tom Lawlor had any shenanigans in his entrance. Boo-urns. This fight was pure domination by Lawlor as Cote looked completely inept on the ground. Lawlor didn't impress the live crowd with his strategy and I am sure the boos were evident on the broadcast. Lawlor fought the smart fight. He fought like a man who needed to keep his job and he did just that.

Court McGee v. Ryan Jensen was the final fight for the Spike show and it was a good one. Court walked out to Everlast's "What It's Like" and it was the only time in my life I heard that song and didn't think "this song sucks". It was just so appropriate that we all were digging it. The crowd was VERY supportive of Court and when Jensen dropped him in that first round it was like he dropped all of us. It was not looking good until right before the 2nd round ended when Court got that takedown into side control. Once he did that you could feel a shift in the momentum and Court came out and dominated Ryan Jensen in the third, getting the submission and bringing the majority of the crowd to its feet. It was just a fantastic comeback for Court. He might never be a title challenger but the man has sent himself to hell and back in his life and it was a great moment. Everyone was so happy for him.

YOUR Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre entered the arena during this fight to a HUGE ovation and chants of "GSP GSP GSP" only to have Josh Koscheck enter a few minutes later to very, very loud boos. I felt bad for the fighters but it was only a momentary thing and we were all sad seeing Court get beat up so it was a welcome distraction.

They played the hype video and the floor started to shake. People were still filing in. Seriously, what the fuck is up with that? These tickets are nowhere near cheap and they say right on them that the first fight starts at 4:15. Why the fuck are you just strolling in with your fucking nachos at 6:55?

Gabriel Gonzaga was first out and although he lost that fight handily to Brendan Schaub he did win the battle of entrance music. Danzig's "Mother" definitely kicks the shit out of "Square Dance" by Eminem. Too bad he couldn't just have collected his win bonus after the entrances for that because he got beat soundly by Brendan who looks much improved again. Much like I said in my predictions that never saw the light of day due to some email malfunction, Gonzaga again had the dubious honor of being another up-and-coming heavyweights biggest win to date.

Matt Hamill vs. Tito Ortiz was next and I have to give Tito credit. He really convinces people that he still is relevant because the arena had a big fight feel to it even though everybody should know Tito is finished. He threw a lot more kicks than I am used to seeing but he couldn't deal with Matt's wrestling. It was great to see Matt Hamill win and regardless of anything else, I got to see Tito Ortiz fight. The man is a legend and I think it is time for that legend to ride off in the sunset respectfully. He deserves to be in the UFC Hall Of Fame.

Diego Sanchez v. Paulo Thiago absolutely deserved the Fight Of The Night honor that it won. The first thing I noticed was that Diego was "YUS!" free all night. Apparently Greg Jackson > Tony Robbins. The crowd was going absolutely apeshit during this fight and Diego was hyping up the crowd between rounds. The scrambles were out of control and it was easily one of the most entertaining fights I have ever seen in person. I attended UFC 98 Evans v. Machida and UFC 117 Silva v. Sonnen as well. I was stunned to hear that one judge scored the contest 30-26. Seriously, what the F? Thiago absolutely won that first round and then lost the last two 10-9 and 10-9. Whoever had that 30-26 card needs to be sodomized with a pick axe.

I was worried that I might never see the next two fights because some woman a few rows up was dousing her drawers over the sight of Martin Kampmann. I thought I was going to be swept away in a tidal wave of lady fluids. Frankly, that would have been a million times better than watching the actual fight because that was a boring fifteen minutes I would love to have back. Shields definitely won the fight by achieving dominant positions over and over. He just did nothing with it. Ever. I know he said he was excited to be able to use elbows on the ground but I think he was so excited that he forgot about them entirely. Georges St. Pierre must be thrilled at the idea of fighting Jake. He is going to ruin him.

Before I get to the main event I have to touch on this. The "Brown Pride" element was very apparent all night. There were countless Mexican flags. The UFC made t-shirts that said "Brown Pride" on them. I know what they were doing with the marketing for this fight and it was very smart and I'm sure it will prove to be very profitable as well. I just didn't like it. There was a weird palpable energy in the building. I never saw a conflict or heard any racist shit from wither side but it was just weird. Lines were drawn that I feel had no place in the arena. It felt like it wasn't just Cain v. Brock or Diego v. Paulo. It was Mexicans vs. The World. I honestly just feel like it was exploitative and a cop out. Hats off to everyone in the crowd for being cool and civil when it could have very easily been very hostile.

Finally, Cain's music hit and the place blew up. He definitely had the majority of the crowd on his side. I couldn't hold still. Allow me my Lesnar fandom for a little bit. The lights went off and the crowd was even louder. "Enter Sandman" began and the crowd was louder still and grew somehow louder as the song progressed. I sang every word. I recited the pre fight-intros with Bruce Buffer word for word. I just could not believe I was going to see this. I cheered as loud as I could for Brock and I hoped that I would see him finish the night for Team DeathClutch the way John Madsen started it off. No one was sitting and no one was quiet when Herb Dean got the action started....

We all know what happened. Brock Lesnar, my boy, got his shit handed to him in impressive fashion. Cain Velasquez walked across the Octagon and told him "Here you go Brock. Here is your shit". First of all, WHAT THE FUCK was Brock charging out of the corner like that for? It was like Marty Morgan lit him up with a cattle prod in the corner. I was and still am dumbfounded at this strategy. For all the cheers Cain got, the place absolutely blew up when Brock hit that takedown. Cain got up and fought Brock off of him against the cage. He stumbled him with a punch. Brock did a drunken wobbly stumble, got absolutely wrecked by a knee to the face and pounded into oblivion on the floor. The building was electric. It was not as loud as when Anderson Silva tapped Chael Sonnen but it was damn close. I saw Brock's face on the screen and although I knew he was bleeding I could not believe the size of the gully he had in his cheek. I am certain that Cain would have won via doctors stoppage had Brock survived the round. That is just a hypothetical because once Cain hurt him he did everything Shane Carwin didn't. He swarmed Brock, picked his shots, stayed calm and did not let him off the hook. I was blown away by his performance.

I thought Brock was going to win this fight. I was wrong. He needs to work on his stand up. End of story. He has horrible composure when he is getting hit and he really needs to get used to getting punched in the face if he is going to continue to be a successful mixed martial artist. Brock came out calm when he fought Randy, Frank in the rematch and Carwin. All of these fights he won. He came out like a maniac in this fight and paid the price. I think it was a shit game plan and he deserved to lose if he thought he was going to win this fight like that.

In the end, I am thrilled I was in the crowd. It was one of the loudest, most interesting rooms I have ever been in. I am still a huge fan of Brock. He is my favorite fighter and one of my favorite athletes ever. The man is an enigma. He is truly larger than life. He could install overhead doors for a living and draw a crowd. Like Joe Rogan said he is "one in a million". He is only 7 fights into his career. He has fought Min Soo Kim, Frank Mir twice, Heath Herring, Randy Couture, Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez. No other man has dove head first into a shark tank like that in his first 7 fights. He is 5-2 and to me that is very impressive. He still has time to evolve and he was 3 or 4 years left easily in his career. I hope he takes full advantage of that time. He can truly be one of the best ever. It all depends on if he can fill the holes he has in his game. I am just happy I got the chance to see the man perform. I will post a video tomorrow of Brock's entrance and the introductions. Even with Brock losing, it really was a great night of fights. I feel privileged that I was able to be there.

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