Adam Wagner is a writer for MMAmania.com. He is in Canada as part of the UFC 83: "Serra vs. St. Pierre 2" Ultimate Fight Train experience. He'll blog about his whirlwind trip throughout the weekend, providing an inside account of what it's like to be in Montreal (and Toronto) when the UFC comes to town for the first time ever. Enjoy.
Wow, what a weekend, and it's only 11:30 in the morning on Friday. Woke up at 3:00 a.m. to make a 6:00 a.m. flight from D.C. to Toronto. Gotta Fight Train to catch.
Landed early, and after dragging my cramped suitcase (literally bursting with MMAmania t-shirts) through customs, we met up with Sean McManus and Justin Curtin.
As most of you know, Sean is a contributing writer to MMAmania.com and serves as Director of Media Relations for MMACanada.net and Director of Marketing for MMA Fight Gear. He's the one responsible for getting MMAmania.com involved with co-sponsoring the Ultimate Fight Train.
Justin is Owner of and Director of Operations for MMA Fight Gear, and the entire Fight Train concept — from inception to implementation — was his brainchild. He got VIA Rail involved and from there the idea took off.
Before it was all said and done, a wide range of sponsors jumped on board, including Fight! Magazine, TapouT, BetUs.com, The Score, The Toronto Sun, Molson Canadian and of course MMAmania.com. The train leaves Saturday morning from Toronto and will take some diehard Canadian UFC fans to Montreal's Bell Centre for UFC 83: "Serra vs. St. Pierre 2."
Our hosts: Forrest Griffin and Patrick Cote.
Speaking of which ...
Shortly after we landed, as we were getting acquainted with Sean and Justin, Forrest arrived. He took the redeye from Vegas (apparently he prefers it that way). I was working on three hours sleep and felt exhausted, but when I saw Forrest, I suddenly felt lucky. I hate redeyes, and Forrest said he spent the whole flight reading while everyone around him slept, including the little old lady next to him who wrestled for control of the armrest (she won, btw).
"She woke up with her arms flailing, I thought she was having a nightmare. I didn't realize I had spilled my water all over her legs. It was dark," he said.
Yes, some bloggers interview fighters about their upcoming matches or their training camp. I like listening to stories about little old ladies and the bastard who took control of the aisle seat.
"If you're gonna sleep, don't sit in the aisle," Forrest says.
My thoughts exactly.
After we packed up the cars with our luggage, Justin and Forrest took off to check in at the Delta Toronto East. Sean, myself, and my girlfriend Paige all went back inside to await Patrick Cote's arrival. It gave me a chance to learn more about how this Ultimate Fight Train concept came together.
When I was describing what I would be doing this weekend to friends back home, they said, "So who's picking you up from the airport?" For simplicity sake, I'd just say, "Sean, he's the Canadian me," meaning that he is also a contributor to MMAmania.com, but focuses primarily on Canadian MMA news.
Truth is, Sean's involvement in the MMA community reaches much further than my own. The work that Justin and Sean, as well as the other fellas involved with MMA Fight Gear, put into making this event a success is truly admirable. If these two are any indication of what Canadian MMA fans have to offer, the UFC ought to head back north for a lot more events ... and soon!
After exchanging all my hard-earned American money for Canadian currency (and losing out a bit on the exchange rate), we shot over to another terminal and picked up Patrick Cote and his girlfriend.
I've met a few fighters since starting this gig, and they are often not what I expect from watching them on television. Patrick's a big dude for 185, and he and his girlfriend are very down to earth. They flew in from Montreal just to get on the Fight Train tomorrow morning and head right back home.
That's about it so far. We've checked into the hotel, ordered room service and I sat down to work while Paige took a quick nap.
Next on the agenda is a media tour for Forrest and Patrick, for which I'll be tagging along although I'm unsure as of yet in what capacity. After that, it's dinner and hitting the hay early. We have to be at the train station between 6 and 7 a.m. Looks like it's going to be another one of those mornings.
I'll be sure to check back in after the media tour — hopefully with an MMAmania.com exclusive interview or two — and will be blogging about this trip the rest of the weekend.
Oh, and the answer to my first question:
- How it feels to be picked up from the airport by the UFC's #1 Light Heavyweight Contender Forrest Griffin.
Like a million bucks. Even though my plane unexpectedly arrived first, so technically, we were picking him up.
As Sean says, "Cheers."
For Part I of Adam's UFC 83 experience click here.