Note: To those who care: Part 8 can be found here:
Lots of Boxing news, TUF: Tate vs Rousey, Toronto shenanigans, including how to sneak booze into the Air Canada Center when you can't use a decoy, getting way too drunk at Real Sports for a Saturday morning and bumping into middleweight champ Chris Weidman before his autograph signing session at a clothing store, an inordinate amount of Folklore and Tidbits and some reminiscing on my last trip to Toronto in December 2011.
This might be a long(er?) one.
We start off the month with some sad news from the Boxing world.
On Sunday, September 1st, former WBO heavyweight champ Tommy "The Duke" Morrison dies for the second time at the age of 44.
Morrison had retired from boxing in 1996 when he tested positive for HIV. He attempted a comeback in 2006, claiming that the 1996 results were false positives.Sadly, he had the "real" AIDS. Not the rich black people kind Magic Johnson had for a while and then cured with heaps of money.
In August 2013, Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN.com reported that Morrison's mother Diana disclosed that Tommy had "full-blown AIDS" and was "in his final days, but that Morrison's wife, Trisha, did not believe Morrison had AIDS. Causes of death were given as cardiac arrest, septicemia, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and multi-organ failure.
For those wondering what I meant by second time, here's the first at the hands of Merciless Ray Mercer.
Here it is from another angle:
3 days later, it's time for UFC Fight Night: Teixeira vs. Bader, live from Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Highlights from this event include, after an underwhelming undercard:
- The UFC debut of Ali Bagautinov, who ends up winning his fight against Marcos Vinicus by 3rd round KO.
- Rafael Natal winning a war against Tor Troeng.
- Piotr Hallman nearly getting his arm broken Nogeira style, but surviving and pulling off a kimura on Fransisco Trinaldo
- Joseph Benavidez earning his title shot by defeating Jussier formiga by 1st round TKO (knees and punches). "Benavidez... Wow. 17-0 under Ludwig, team Alpha Male is, Joe."
- Ronaldo Souza breaks Yushin Okami by first round TKO also in the first. Okami's boring, erect style did him no favors in that fight as he was released from the UFC, despite coming in on a three-fight winstreak. The reason Okami fans (all 3 of them) were given: "The [UFC] Roster is too packed"
And in the main event, Ryan Bader had Glover Texeira rocked good... and then got knocked-out when Glover blinked at him. I remember thinking Tex was going to get murdered vs Jones if he fought dumb like that.
Let me reiterate my love for Brazilian cards. This was like Christmas: we got to see Okami AND Bader get KTFO! It does not get much better than that!
This event was followed with the premiere of the first mixed-gender Ultimate Fighter: Tate versus Rousey. Highlights of the month will be included in the Folklore and Tidbits from here on out.
Let's just say that right off the bat, Tate came off way more personable and likeable than Rousey. Miesha seems girl next door. You want to get her drunk and bang the piss out of her in the bed of a pickup.
Rousey is scary and only seems more standoffish when surrounded by her pack of angry Armenians.
3 weeks later, The Floyd Mayweather vs Canelo fight reminds me of everything I hate about boxing, while bringing to light everything that's wrong with it.
Mayweather walks out with Justin Bieber and proceeds to Mayweather Canelo for 12 rounds.
Judge C.J. Ross, robbing countless peons out of their easy money, calls the fight a draw.
Those familiar with gambling know, anyone who bet on a Unanimous decision lost - only Majority wins. No one bet on that. Except one person... the judge or her family.
She did it to Pacquiao too in his fight against Bradley
But for this fight, no one was betting on a split decision. People that bet on this fight either logically:
A - Chose Money by Unanimous Decision
B - Canelo by KO
C - Some crazy shit.
The Mexican Ginger was never in that fight. He won one, MAYBE two rounds. To call it 114-114 is to say that they each won 6 rounds.
I shake my head. This was the last boxing event I've watched live. Don't really miss the sport either.
Fortunately, 3 weeks later it's UFC 165 in Toronto and we're making the trip!
The last time I went there aside from work duties was for UFC 140 Jones vs Machida. I, my friend and his brother-in-law decided to make the 6 hour drive from Montreal. Never Again.
About halfway through the trip, the SUV hit some black ice as we were exiting the highway to refuel.
Instead of taking the curve, the vehicle kept going straight and went over a low cement median strip, causing us to take a shortcut right into the almost vacant truck stop/gas station's parking lot.
My buddy was riding shotgun and I was unbuckled and shooting the shit with them comfortably leaning forward between the 2 seats when it happened.
I remember the collective "Uh-ho" and hearing a loud "Thunk" as well as all kinds of metallic crunching and tearing noises you don't want to hear when you're in a vehicle.
Thankfully, we were all OK. The SUV... not so much. Its front wheels were imbedded in its body.
The sensation of living the accident almost in slow motion makes me wonder if this is the same deer in the headlights feeling that the UFC gets whenever Nick Diaz is about to open his mouth and wax poetic.
I used my CAA membership to call a tow truck and we get rescued by a moustachioed, aviator shade wearing, friendly hick, who dropped us off at mechanic in Kingston, the nearest town.
On the drive there, he told us: "It's been nuts, damn ice! eh?" and that he's "been working the last 12 hours straight and we were lucky!",
"What's your secret?" I asked, a nervous smile painted on my lips (being his passengers and all).
"When I get really tired, I let a teabag steep in a cup of strong coffee." He replied.
I made a mental note of that and have used this concoction myself since. I call it "wake the dead" coffee.
After abandoning the vehicle, we walked with our bags about 1/2 mile to a car rental shop, the cold Canadian wind stinging our faces and really under-dressed for the occasion.
We were told that once we'd cross a small bridge we'd come across it. The first thing we saw when we crossed that bridge was a gigantic "Jesus Loves You" billboard. I went from Atheist to Agnostic.
We rented a car, proceeded on our merry way and made it to our destination without any further incident.
Through my friend's brother-in-law who works for a pretty big UFC sponsor, we got to meet some UFC brass at Real Sports bar, including a very cool go getter whom we still keep in touch with. This benefactor would end up upgrading our seats to 9th row for Silva vs Weidman II in Vegas.
More on that in: Why 2013 Kicked this MMA Fan's @ss Part 12: December Disaster.
Long story short, we got to see Mir break Nogeira's arm live and what seemed like about 17 more consecutive times on the Air Canada Center's giant screens, in super slow motion and punctuated by the collective groans of 15,504 fans as they just kept showing it over and over and over.
Back to 2013... (I'm like a beaten wife at this point and get nervous when I write about other years in these posts.).
This time, we chose to fly.
My friend's wife works for an airline company and can get us the "friends and family" discount. Plane tickets end up us costing as much as the road trip would thanks to gas prices.
Plus, the flight is more or less 50 minutes on a good day, compared to 6 hours of driving through the most boring Canadian scenery (highway with tall trees on both sides for 5 hours) aside from the Prairies (endless fields, for days.).
The only downside is that it's a bumpy flight, since the plane they use to fly to Toronto's city center airport from Montreal is the size of a Mazda Miata or a small Great Dane.
The buildup to this UFC featured a countdown that began with Gustafsson smiling to himself, as if he knew something we all didn't, and boldly stating: "I can beat Jon Jones. Any day."
To which the champ retorted: "He said he can beat me any day? Come on, Son!".
It went on to describe Jon Jones as being almost superhuman and on the cusp of history, as a win over the Mauler would allow him to beat the record for consecutive title defenses in the Light Middleweight division.
As for Gustafsson... Well, he was tall and training with Phil Davis.
Suffice to say Vegas has him as a worse underdog than Weidman.
Saturday morning has finally come.
We take our flight at 8:30am and arrive at our hotel at 10am.
We drop our bags off and then immediately head to Real Sports bar, a real gem of a place right next to the Air Canada Center that offers 240 beers on tap and boasts a 2 storey high HD TV.
The plan is to meet one of my buddies, who's a former Montrealer fight fan that now lives in Toronto, and another friend who's flying in from Vermont. They'll both be joining us before the prelims.
This leaves us with lots of time on our hands and what better way to spend it than being drunk, no?
3 hours later, we've had our fill of grease and booze for the moment and decide to go explore.
My buddy tells me that he has a favor to ask:
"My co-worker's brother in law is dying of terminal cancer and has less than 6 weeks apparently. He is a huge UFC fan. If for whatever reason we are not together at some point and you see a UFC fighter and have the chance to ask for an autograph...try to grab one made out to MIKE. Doesn't matter who".
"No worries", I said.
So on that note, we decide to stumble to the clothing goods store adjacent to Real Sports.
Lo and behold, as we are perusing, we notice a table being setup and 2 minutes later, Chris Weidman shows up with a small entourage. He was there for a signing and to hype his rematch with Anderson.
We approach him:
"Hey Champ, great job. You know cost me a couple of bucks eh?" I said, all smiles to break the ice.
"Thanks man, don't make that same mistake twice, eh! What's your name, guys..."
He actually engaged with us and we talked about his house, his newfound fame, the media tour for UFC 168, etc.
My friend actually got in argument with him, insisting that Chris was from the Jersey Shore.The incredulous look on Weidman's face was priceless. How I wish Longo and Serra had been there just to see their reaction.
"Can you believe this guy? Punch a hole through his fucking chest, Chris!"
He also took the time to sign one of his "I'M POSSIBLE" promo pictures for Mike.
"Mike, Stay Strong. Chris Weidman"
He then asked me if I wanted one and what I wanted him to sign:
"Sure, how's about: "Dan, sorry for the money""? I asked.
"Yes!" he cracked up and wrote exactly that on the autographed picture he gave me.
We shook hands, wished him luck (even though I'd be betting against him again in the rematch, but hey, he didn't need to know that) and said good-bye.
We had other important things to take care of.
Namely, it was time to get the booze we would sneak into the event.
By that time, my 2 buddies had arrived and they both met us at the Liquor Store.
We all picked our 375ml plastic bottles of favorite poison and proceeded to head to the Air Canada center.
Toronto's security is similar to Montreal's, except that instead of 3 security guards at the entrance, there's more like 12 of them. Everyone is searched, so you can't depend on a decoy (remember Gigantor from March Madness).
The trick is that, just like in Montreal, there's free energy drinks being handed out on the streets in front of the venue.
Simply stick your plastic bottle of booze in the front of your pants, grab an energy drink, open the can and walk into the Air Canada Center, casually sipping on the vile substance.
One of the guards will stop you, admonish you, tell you to throw the can away and usually not bother with a pat down since you've already taken up their "precious" time.
We get to our seats among a sea of blue and yellow (our section is overrun by Swedes proudly wearing their national colors to support their brethren) and get ready to enjoy the 13(!) fights on the menu.
My friend is pissed.
He picked Vodka as his drink of choice and the Air Canada center doesn't sell Redbull. He's stuck drinking it straight like a Russian peasant and makes the "Buckley's face" every time he takes a sip. He casually proceeds to get his usual Toronto Air Canada Center drunk on and sleeps through a couple boring prelims.
Yes, he manages to fall asleep at live UFC events.
I remember nothing from the undercard.
Of the 13 fights on this card, many went to decision and I was seriously hammered when the main card started.
Here's what I recall:
- Francis Carmont sucked the life out of an already restless building in his decision win over Costa Phlippou. "Dominant yet boring" seems to be Carmont's M.O. He has finely honed his "Get him down and do nothing" game plan from logs of boring missionary porn videos staring repressed Mormons.
- In a battle of former TUF contestants, Brendan Schaub submits white belt Matt Mitrione with a D'arce choke. In his post-fight interview with Rogan, Big Brown declares himself Jiu Jitsu Jedi and thanks "fellow Olympian" Tony Jeffries. Yes, you read that correctly. His exact words to Joe were: "Tony is a fellow Olympian and he trained me like an Olympic athlete. So whatever Matt did, I felt ready for it," [insert Special Olympics joke here]
- In the co-main event of the evening, interim champ Renan Barao cements his legitimacy by rearranging Eddie Wineland's face with a well-placed, dynamic spinning back kick right to the kisser and a mauling. He proceeds to celebrate by dancing like no one is watching.
And it's now time for the Main Event of the evening.
Alex enters the Octagon first and seems very relaxed. Jon Jones comes out wearing his official brand new Nike "Not Quite Human" shirt.
Bruce Buffer does the introductions and...
(I'll spare you... I didn't hear it - one of the perks of being in attendance - so I won't mention it).
They feel each other out with legs kicks and jabs. Jones goes for a take-down and it's stuffed by the Mauler. Seems all that training with Mr. Wonderful paid off.
Then, out of nowhere a big left hook from Gustafsson solidly connects to Jones' head and the place burst into "Alex" chants. Later in the round, he would cut Jones over the eye with a right hook.
Towards the end of the round, The Mauler does the unthinkable and takes Jon down (and becomes the first man to do so in the Octagon).
The place erupts in the loudest Seven Nation Army cheer I've ever heard and everyone is up on their feet.
The entire Air Canada center would remain standing and loud for the rest of the fight.
Jones ends the round with some well-placed spinning elbows. Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a fight - better yet, a potential upset in the making.
For the rest of the fight and in a Vulgar Display of Viking Power, Alex gave the performance of his life.
But it was not to be.
In the end I had it 3 - 2 Gustafsson and thought I'd just seen a title change. So did most of the crowd and Phil Davis (click to see and hear for yourself).
Of course, being there live and in the moment, surrounded by the sights and sounds can sometimes impair one's judgment. Unless you're seeing your favorite fighter's foot wrapped around the other guy's leg. But that's another beating for another month.
P.S.: I've rewatched the Jones Gustafsson fight quite a few times since and still have Alex winning 3-2. It's one of my go-to fights to introduce friends who feel jaded by boxing to MMA (it works).
Folklore and Tidbits
1 week later, still clearly brain damaged from the bout, Jon Jones nixes rematch against Gus and issues the following long-winded statement through Ariel Helwani on UFC tonight:
"Initially, before watching the fight, he thought the most fair thing to do was to grant Alexander Gustafsson an immediate rematch, it was such a close fight. But after watching it over 10 times, he now believes that he decisively won rounds two, round four and round five and maybe even round one. So, now he thinks, because it was so clear cut, that the most fair thing to do is to grant the next contender a title shot. He'd be up to anything; if UFC said fight Gustafsson, he'd do it, but he thinks the most fair thing to do right now is to move on. He also said Gustafsson was very game and put forth a great fight but he thinks personally, he was only at 70 percent (More on that particular percentage in: Why 2013 kicked this MMA Fan's @ss Part 11: November: 1-3-5 AND STILL) and next time, he vowed that he would be at 100 percent."
UFC Inks Top Russian Bantamweight Aleksandra 'Stitch' Albu. For those who don't know her, you're welcome:
2013 strikes again. Mark Hunt and Bigfoot agree to headline a UFC event in Australia. I'm so moved by the announcement I shed a tear and say a silent prayer to the Gods of War.
In the anti-fight buildup moment of the month Rampage, while doing color commentary for Bellator, says he can't train properly for his fight against Ortiz because of his knees.
In what can only be described as Poetic Justice, after deeming her opponent unworthy and rambling on about her greatness and place in the sport for an entire episode, then being told by her coach Ronda that: "She [Julianna] doesn't deserve to breathe the same air as you" before the fight, the Queen of Spades taps out to a rear naked choke.
She would then justify her loss in a 1948 word essay on TUF 18 blog: The Queen's Manifesto.
I'm not the only one who dislikes Baszler, referees seem to hate her too, as demonstrated at the end of her fight against Cyborg.
Historical Tidbit: As you saw if you clicked above, after the fight, they panned the camera to Gina Carano.
Seconds later, the following gif emerges on the UnderGround Forums:
Speaking English worse than Bigfoot and sounding like he was eating something while being confused by everything asked of him during an audio call, George St. Pierre's Anti-Doping Crusade falls apart, and makes him look bad in the process.
Ken Shamrock revives his feud against the UFC, lobbing a series of inflammatory statements and tweets at Dana White and attempting to rally Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson to his cause. Tito suggests they crash the 20th anniversary show and offers to buy the tickets. Dana White responds to the "Super Friends" with great vengeance and furious anger, during a very animated and entertaining media scrum, but would later laugh it off and take a jab at Ortiz.
Quote of the month
"I give back the knockout"
Anderson Silva to Ariel Helwani on the MMA hour, when asked how he believes he will defeat Weidman on Dec. 28th
Welcome back, Andy.
That does it for September. Thank you for reading. In the next installment of this series (Word is bond.): Why 2013 Kicked this MMA Fan's @ss Part 10: October: "We have Science!"