Live from Oakland with the Bandit

This time I decided to do a live event in style.  Why not?  The UFC was coming to my hood so why not spring for some good tickets?  We'd sat in the $200 seats a few times before and spent 90% of the viewing experience with eyes layed upon the screen above the cage.  After the last card I did that for, which was Chuck vs. Babalu, I swore I would never go to another live event in those seats.  And I never again will go unless I'm down on the floor.

We priced ourselves 8 rows back from the cage.  Great view, although I do believe the best view in the house is the first 5 rows up from floor level.  However, without having that ticket with a floor level seat number you don't get to be a floor level fan.  And as I learned, being the floor level fan is worth it's weight in gold.  That's where all the action is.  I had the opportunity to get pictures with fighters.  I'm not an autograph guy because I just don't get that whole concept, but if I was I would've had a dozen or more autographs. 

We live in the day and age of technology.  Everyone has a phone with a camera on it.  Me and my crew are Iphone idiots, and a few of us had the Iphone 4.  Now we've all heard that this phone is riddled with problems but that hasn't been our experience.  That phone is the perfect live event gadget: it has a 5 megapixle camera, a flash, and most important: one of those reversable screens so when you take your own pic you can see the image before you take the pic.  That right there allows you to roam around on the floor, spot a fighter or celeb, roll up to him or her, ask for a pic, and get right in there and snap it quickly.  This assures that you will get your pic.  Most of the rest of the people are waiting for the camera guy, or giving that jackass camera instructions, or bogged down because theres 2 or more of them waiting while the bandit just slides in and gets his shot. 

So who'd we see?  Court Mcgee was buzzing around us all night.  Nice guy, very humble (for now).  Cain Velasquez was in our section.  Benavenidez (the WEC guy) was right there.  Randy was all over the floor giving out graphs and pics like candy- he's about the coolest UFC celeb you can wander upon.  And, of all people, right in front of me was James Toney.  He wasn't talking any trash, and believe me, I spoke to him a few times to see if he would and he was all smiles.  He surprised me- he was very friendly with the fans.  He did leave in the 3rd round of the Silva/Sonnen bash though.  That was likely his way of saying that MMA is boring.  After all, he did sit through the Fitch experience.  Of course, this is Oakland, so MC Hammer was there dressed like a pimp.  And the local 209 boys were right there too.  Nick and Nate had no problem taking pics with fans.  Nate looks like he's in the midst of a good training camp as his face was a little bruised up.  Both of these guys are pretty cool and very respectful.  There were others but you have to kind of pick and choose your wandering time because they close off the wandering paths while fighters are entering and exiting the cage.  This left me stranded in other areas a few times so I quickly learned to hover within my section.

The undercard was descent.  The best fight there, in my opinion, was Struve vs. Morecraft.  Christian Morecraft put an absolute whoopin on Struve in the first round.  Beat him around the cage like he stole something.  Struve emerged from the round with a lower lip that made fat albert look like Angelina Jolie.  I could see the desperation in his eyes as the 2nd was about to start.  He looked like a man that knew he only had a few more minutes until he was going to be Nelsoned.  And he indeed acted that way as he came out and pulled off a magnificent KO, sending Morecraft to the mat and forcing the ref to call it quits.  As he exited the the cage and walked by us back to the locker room his trainer was following behind him carrying his lip the way a bridesmaid carries a brides dress as she walks down the aisle.

Johny Hendricks is always fun to watch.  Here's a guy that looks like the tree hippie who prunes up the oak trees in my neighborhood.  Soft spoken, crackly voice, and a beard that resembles that of Jesus.  Then he rolls in and puts an ass whooping on poor Charlie.  Lucy managed to pull the chair out from Charlie thats for sure.

Mr. Wonderful seemed to be content with beating up on Rodney Wallace without finishing him.  In every round he was in a position to finish but he didn't.

And then came the main card.  To my surprise, Roy vs. JDS came first.  This was the fight I came to the event for. It may have seemed like a lopsided beatdown on TV, but live- it was not.  I never expected Roy to take that kind of punishment and stay living.  He went down a number of times and was wobbled but got right back up.  Incredible chin last night.  Seemed like every uppercut JDS threw blasted Roy boy in the mask.  And at the end of every round Roy would sit down, lift up his belly flap, take a few bites of the burrito he kept there, put it back, and go back out there and give Junior the hardest fight he's had. Roy almost had the double leg in the 2nd.  That was his only chance of winning that.  But wow, I was impressed by Roy's determination.

Ricardo Almeida looked like he either just came off of a crank run or out of a concentration camp.  He didn't look healthy.  Props to Hughes.  Put him to sleep following a chin check left hook.  He called it "an old wrestling move."  I didn't know what the hell to call it either, and neither did Buffer.  Seemed like a semi contorted version of an arm triangle choke.  What ever you want to call it though, Hughes managed to surprise yet another Gracie guy.  I'm surprised Nick and Nate didn't jump the cage and start a brawl.

As I watched Guida vs. dos Anjos go into the third, I was telling a buddy of mine that it appears as though people have learned how to defend against Guida's relentless style and pace.  His last few fights have seemed to be kind of the same to me.  The submission here came out of nowhere to the crowd.  We were all left wondering what the hell happened until we saw Rafael holding his jaw.  And then I felt really bad for him.  Looks like he will be eating out of a straw for the next 6 weeks.  Bummer- I hate to see anyone have to go through that.

And good old Fitch.  All I can say is that the Fitch fight afforded me the opportunity to to get up and use the bathroom.  A real snoozer.  My section was booing from the midway point of round 1 on.  Wow.  They made this the co-main event?  That shocked me.  I don't even want to comment.  His hometown crowd was severely disappointed with his performance.  He was the only local fighter on the card and the crowd didn't even want to root for him after the first round.  Say what you want, but Fitch ought to pay attention to his local crowd.

Chael Sonnen did most of what he said he was going to do.  The quote that rings out in my mind is, "I'm going to throw him on his back and beat a hole in his face."  And that he did, for better than 4.5 rounds.  Unfortunately, as we all know, that's not good enough to win a fight.  Silva found his opening, argueably in lucky fashion, and pulled off the counter upset.  Sonnen was pulling off one of the top 2 upsets of the year (tied with Fedor/Werdum, IMO), until the upsetter was upset in the 5th.  Incredible.  What's most incredible to me is that he ragdolled Andy like that.  One thing me and the fellas were wondering throughout the fight was why the hell Anderson was making no attempt to get off of his back or submit.  He had the absolute laziest guard I have ever seen from a black belt.  There was talk of a broken or bruised rib online after so maybe that had something to do with it.  I don't know.  When you're there live you don't get any Rogan blow by blow, which is ok with me because you actually see the fight for what it is, without someone's opinion in your ear.  Nonetheless, that was an intense fight.  The crowd was on it's feet from the beginning, minus the hot ass chick a few seats away who drank herself silly then took a few hits of a blunt going around.  She was KO'd for most of the main card.  The crowd was all boo's when Sonnen came out, but all in favor of Sonnen after they saw him punish Andy for 1 round.  I will have to say though, Andy never really looked like he was in that much trouble.  One of my buddies put $500 on Sonnen to win $1800 and lost his voice in that fight.  He was all too sure about Chael, taunting his supposed new pile of cash.  The look on his face when Andy hooked the leg over Sonnen's neck in the fifth was priceless.  With the very last bit of voice he had left he could be heard barking, "He didn't tap, he didn't tap!"  Poor guy. 

But that's why we love this sport.  You just never know what you're going to get, or what version of that fighter will show up that night.  I was gald to be there.  Being down there on the floor is the only way to fly.  And if you can't afford to sit down there, then be creative.  There's always a way to get there if you wait for your opening, like Andy did.  Just don't wait until the end of the 5th to do it. 

So, what did y'all think about the alleged best card of the year?

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