Every year in March, the city of Austin, Texas, is invaded by internet start-ups, film buffs, musicians, and hipsters for South By South West (SXSW). For two weeks, local hotspots are taken over by big businesses with major marketing budgets to throw parties with open bars and national musical acts like Jay-Z and Kanye West.
Heck, even Lady Gaga gave a surprise appearance in which she was voluntarily vomited on. Yes, that actually happened.
To attempt to navigate "South By" -- as it is commonly known who attend every year-- is much like drifting North of the Wall in Westeros. You're much safer staying somewhere comfortable. My local haven is Hops & Grain, a brewery far away from the ridiculousness that is downtown Austin.
The brewery shares the building with Eastside Elite, which would play host to the Onnit party, or more specifically, Joe Rogan's live podcast with the folks from Rooster Teeth. On Wednesday afternoon, the guys from Onnit were in the taproom, and after some wheeling and dealing, I scored an invite to their Thursday night party.
All I had to do now was figure out how I could speak with Rogan, one-half of the main announce team for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Fueled by free tacos, I approached him after the podcast about doing an interview. He was apprehensive at first, but after mentioning that it was for MMAmania.com, he said he'd love to do one.
Now, I just had to wait as he took photos and shook hands with everyone in attendance.
After waiting 30 minutes, I started to have doubts. Did he forget about our interview? The answer was no. As I was heading for the door, dejected, he chased me down and gave me 20 minutes of some of the most passionate discussion regarding mixed martial arts (MMA).
In a little less than 24 hours later, he'd be on stage at the American Airlines Center as the emcee for the UFC 171 weigh ins. When I was traveling to fights for my past employer, I'd have to attend weigh ins and live tweet them from the twitter account.
Needless to say, I've seen way too many dehydrated and hungry dudes standing around in their underwear. Rogan laughed at first when I said this, but then got serious when explaining how important it is to watch the weigh ins as they give insight into how the fight will possibly play out.
"The weigh ins, if you're into the fights and can get there early to watch them, really make the fights more interesting. You get to see the stare downs. You get to see people talking shit," he said. "You get to see people look terrible. You get to see if someone barely makes weight and they look gaunt and drawn out, where you go 'oooo, that was a bad cut.'"
He continued, "they're really good at re-hydrating now. Most of the big camps have it down to a science. But occasionally, you'll still see guys that look like they're on death's door when they weigh in. I just don't think you can come back 100 percent from that."
"You might come back enough to fight, you might come back enough to perform, but there's most certainly a point of diminishing returns and when you can see that in a guy's face on the scale, like 'that guy had a tough cut.' That may be the tipping point for betting on him."
Tonight's (March 15, 2014) fight card will crown a new UFC welterweight champion with Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler battling it out in the main event for the title. For the first time since 2008, the welterweight division will have an undisputed champion not named Georges St-Pierre.
After his performance at UFC 167 against "Rush," fans accepted Hendricks as the uncrowned king of welterweight. Most scoring the bout at home thought he won. Even UFC President Dana White didn't hold back as he lambasted the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) for the controversial decision.
This also means that most are overlooking Robbie Lawler as a possible opponent. Sure, he's looked good in his UFC return, but it's hard to forget about his mediocre run in the Strikeforce middleweight division.
Rogan doesn't see it that way. Instead, he believes that welterweight is where "Ruthless" belonged the whole time.
"He shouldn't have been fighting at middleweight in the first place. He's not big enough to be fighting at middleweight. When you're fighting the elite fighters -- when you're fighting the best in the world -- you should be fighting at your optimum weight class. Which is one of the reasons why I think Lyoto Machida is so impressive."
"He did so well at 205 (light heavyweight). Lyoto Machida is a natural middleweight. He used to weigh in at 203, 204, 202 and he wasn't cutting any weight. He was just a 203 pound guy. Now, he's cutting weight and you're going to see some spectacular fights from Lyoto Machida. The question is: should he have done it earlier? I think he probably should have."
He went on, "I think Robbie Lawler didn't really belong at 185 pounds. He just decided to campaign at 185 pounds, for whatever reason. He did well at middleweight, he beat some good guys. But there's a difference between the Robbie Lawler at 185 and the Robbie Lawler at 170."
"At 170, he's way harder to take down and he still hits just as hard. He's scary as fuck, man. Robbie Lawler is a frightening dude. There's also something about him. He doesn't get nervous that other dudes get. They told him he was fighting for the title and you know what he said? He said, 'cool.' THAT'S IT! That's not normal."
"That's not the guy you want to fight. You don't want to fight the guy who doesn't give a fuck and just says 'cool.' Robbie Lawler fucking loves to fight, man. He's not doing it for a job. He just has this deep burning fire inside of him that doesn't manifest into emotions. He's a scary dude. He can knock anyone out at 170 pounds."
"He's a dangerous mother fucker. Robbie in a lot of ways is a more dangerous opponent for Johny Hendricks than Georges St-Pierre. Georges has always been a more calculating and measured striker. He's never been a one-punch, one-kick guy. He just isn't. Georges is a volume striker."
"Can Johny Hendricks win? Most definitely. Can Robbie Lawler win? Most certainly."
After Hendricks failed to make weight on his first attempt at yesterday's weigh ins, Lawler has become a "live dog" among gamblers. Rogan could be right about "Ruthless."
We'll know in less than 12 hours.