When undefeated Puerto Rican boxing sensation Felix Trinidad stepped inside the squared circle to take on Bernard Hopkins with the WBC, WBA and IBF Middleweight belts on the line back in 2001, it was the biggest prize fight (for me, at least) since the last, ear-biting pathetic remnants of the Mike Tyson era.
"Tito" would go onto lose the bout because his father bizarrely intervened in the last round after a knockdown. In turn, I'd go onto lose $100 I didn't have to former (and now imprisoned) NBA forward Jayson Williams (thankfully I was never invited to play with his loaded weapons while drunk) under curious circumstances. And, ultimately, a mixed martial arts (MMA) fan -- who could no longer tolerate boxing's shadiness -- was born.
And, in a round-a-bout way, so too was MMAmania.com, as well as all the friendships and rivalries this online community has forged throughout the years (and all the depravity between). Wild how the universe works like that and how one appearance by Rashad Evans to promote UFC 145 in Puerto Rico with Trinidad at the Training Zone can make it all come full circle.
In my mind, anyway.
So, yeah, "Suga" was in the "Shining Star" recently to rally the boricuas and encourage the loud and proud combat sports fanatics to tune into his upcoming Light Heavyweight showdown with division champion and bitter rival, Jon Jones, in the UFC 145 main event at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga., later this month (Sat., April 21, 2012).
And who better to get the locals all lathered up than its most beloved legendary fighter, perhaps ever, than Trinidad.
Check out a highlight video of the open workout, as well as quotes from Evans and Trinidad about the brief appearance, as well as their thoughts on the encounter ... and each other:
"The visit to Puerto Rica was one of the craziest things I've done in my UFC career, and I've been here since 2005. The fans went crazy, it was so cool to be part of that. I couldn't believe the response.... I have a lot of regard for Tito as a fighter. He's one of those fighters that I watched growing up and in many ways would try to emulate his style. He was very fast, had great power, but was so mart too. He brought a lot of pressure forward, always moving, always bouncing, always putting the heat on, and that's a style I've tried to emulate.... It's exciting and kind of surreal to meet Tito. I remember watching him on TV when he was going through his thing and the spotlight was on him and all the behind the scenes coverage on him and now I get to meet him as it's my turn."
"The truth is MMA and UFC is something that's taking over the world and we love it in Puerto Rico. We are what they call 'hot blooded' -- we love fighting and love watching UFC events.... I've never thought about training an MMA fighter, but honestly, I'd love to help if it's a Puerto Rican fighter. If he's from Puerto Rico, I will help him with his boxing. It doesn't matter who it is. If he's from Puerto Rico, I will help him. I salute all the fans of MMA and UFC. The sport is getting bigger and bigger in Puerto Rico. This is going to be a hit. This will be a hit for real."
For more on the upcoming showdown between Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans be sure to check out our complete fight archive right here. And for more historical anecdotes from yours truly be sure to get lost.
Thanks to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for passing along the pic and quotes from the "24-hour tour of the Island."