I imagine at least one or two of you folks have been backstage at a concert or some large event. UFC press scrums are generally a lot like that experience, and this one for the lead to UFC 169 was no different.
There are some hot women, but here, they aren't groupies, they're the eye-grabber that goes in front of the camera, most often in Central- and South-American countries. There are a bunch of photographers toting more equipment than most roadies ever have nightmares about, and there's a bunch of us writer type press shmucks just drinking in all of the fun.
They say the best lunch is a free lunch, right? Well, it's true. Even if it's just a sandwich, salad and some cookies, every single one of us is happy to save ten bucks and scarf down the perfectly adequate, yet wholly unremarkable food that the UFC and Madison Square Garden (MSG) provided for us (choice of 4 sandwiches, some fruit salad, a green salad, chips, cookies and water/soda). For the record, I took a chicken caesar spinach wrap, some of both salads and more than my fair share of oatmeal raisin cookies.
The press stuff here at MSG always takes the form of scrums, so all of us broke up immediately to the fighter we wished to talk to first. I chose Urijah Faber as the person I would leadoff with and hover around with my iPod waving in the breeze as my mic. The Kid has natural charisma, and is an easy interview because he will happily give long, full answers.
Compare that to Alistair Overeem, who seemed like he would rather be anywhere in the world but here and would answer in short one- or two-word responses. It's hard to blame someone - the fight is just around the corner, and he's been asked infinite questions - often the same one over and over, and in his case, often by snarky people making horse jokes that he obviously doesn't want to dignify with an answer.
Renan Barao, for example, looked half exhausted - perhaps indicative of a rough weight cut or just sick and tired of dealing with questions. But yea, credit to people like Faber and Frank Mir and Dana White who have got either the earnestness or BS ability down pat to be able to answer a question for the 46th time and not sound like they want to strangle you for being the next guy to ask it.
Dana, obviously, takes center stage after the fighters, and his scrum is live for the world to see. These ones, however, you are often only with one or two other people and you'll often be the only one getting some tidbit. I'll be posting that article later.
Now these photos are in no way shape or form comparable to the stuff that people like Esther Lin and Tracy Lee put out on a regular basis, but these are angles and shots that they didn't take. For example, Jose Aldo looks like a pretty handsome dude when you aren't staring at a huge scar.
Hope you enjoy these photos, Maniacs. Check back here for all your UFC 169 coverage including the weigh-ins, play-by-play and post-fight news!