So it’s here again, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is landing in Vancouver this week.
Which means the streets will run red with blood, gangs will steal our daughters, hooligans will go on drunken rampages that last for six days, and our kids will learn the fine art of the switchblade. At least, that was the line of BS fed to the city prior to the first UFC excursion here last year by councillors Ellen Woodsworth and David Cadman.
Obviously, those fears never were never borne out by reality. Instead, a packed house rocked the roof of what was then GM Place, and a clearly giddy mayor Gregor Robertson grooved to the metal soundtrack, buddied up to Dana White, and cheered loudly from his seat at every big hit and stunning reversal. This time around, the lay of the land is a little different.
The city has still not got around to figuring out how to regulate pro-MMA outside of the UFC (which is paying ridiculous amounts of money to satisfy the city’s indemnity and insurance demands), and tickets have been selling poorly (in part due to the city’s fascination with the Stanley Cup run, but also in part because of the absence of former headliner Brock Lesnar, who can’t go six minutes without his intestine perforating).
The media buzz is far lighter this time around (same reasons as for the poor ticket sales), and the scalpers are so busy with the Cup that even they haven’t snatched up all the cheap seats.
So the opportunity is there, for those with an interest, to not only go see a live UFC event right up close and personal, a mere Skytrain station away from your own home, but to do so at a reasonable (in UFC terms) price.
People, this is your chance. Go buy some freakin’ tickets already.
What’s that? You’re not convinced? Unsure if you wanna spend an evening with the UFC in person? Well, here’s a guide to help you along the way in terms of what you will see, and what you won’t.
WHAT YOU WON’T SEE: A main event that goes to a decision. Shane Carwin and Junior dos Santos are heavy-hitting man-beasts with a disregard for the teeth of others. Forget the Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton last night – that was small potatoes. Carwin and Dos Santos are very large potatoes. Like, Best-of-the-Fair blue ribbon potatoes with giant gnarly arms that make a truckload of hash browns and see the city’s collective cholesterol levels skyrocket. I’m predicting Carwin if it ends in the first 45 seconds, Dos Santos if it goes longer and Carwin’s
roid legs lactic acidosis takes hold. NOTE: It will not go longer than two minutes. No way, no how.
WHAT YOU WILL SEE: A Canadian who lives in the United States and calls himself a Polish Experiment. Krzysztof Soszynski has three Z’s in his name, which is a surefire way (parents take note) of ensuring your child grows up to have tattoos, a bald head, and a predilection for bending the arms of opponents the wrong way until muscles snap. Soszynski tackles New Jersey native Mike Massenzio, a 6’2 180lb Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt/wrestler/submission grappler who is fighting for his UFC career after being pulled in at the zero hour to replace an injured fighter. Massenzio is trying for a comeback after a pair of losses in his last few outings saw him sent to the minors. Be on the lookout for The Experiment’s famed Kimura shoulder lock. You’re bound to see it at least once.
WHAT YOU WON’T SEE: Gang members. Oh, they’ll be there, but only in the same way they’ll be at the Abbotsford Sammy J. Peppers or The Roxy or Commercial Skytrain station or the produce section of the Coquitlam Safeway. Gang members are everywhere! They’re dating your daughter! They fixed your roof! They go to your dentist! Next.
WHAT YOU WILL SEE: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master Demian Maia putting on a submission clinic on big Mark Munoz, the pride of the Philippines and a continual project for the eager-to-get-into-Asia UFC, despite his limited prospects. Don’t get me wrong, the Filipino Wrecking Machine is tougher than I’ll ever be, but he’s a gatekeeper pure and simple, while Maia can twist an arm into a Twizzler before you realize he’s in the cage with you. The ‘Arts’ aspect of Mixed Martial Arts relates directly to what the Brazilian does on the mat and by the time he’s done with Munoz, he’ll have earned a Boy Scout badge in Limb Knots.
WHAT YOU WON’T SEE: Any intelligent people at the concession stand during the Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs Vagner Rocha fight. This one’s going to be a barnburner: Cerrone is a fierce competitor with the best gameplanner in the business (Greg Jackson) in his corner, while Rocha is a submission grappler with a record of fights that rarely get out of the first round, making his debut in the UFC. Expect to see two scorpions tangled in the centre of the cage, going at it with fury.
WHAT YOU WILL SEE: A judges decision in the Kenny Florian vs Diego Nunes featherweight fight. Nunes hasn’t had a fight stop before full time since 2008, and though he’s only lost once in that time, it was (of course) a decision loss. Florian generally goes deep in his fights, looking to wear opponents down, but keep an eye out for his armbar – he’s finished fights 8 times in his last 13 fights using that hold (or being submitted by it).
WHAT YOU WON’T SEE: Respect for women. The UFC has come a long way, and there’ll be plenty of women in the crowd, but its insistence on gearing itself toward young (and immature) males is a major shortcoming. What’s up, extreme close-up of ring-girl backside.
WHAT YOU WILL SEE: A highly polished, video-centric, loud volume, bells and whistles production that could teach other major league sports a thing or two about audience engagement. It has to be that way, because seats at the back of the room are too far from the action to give in-house fans a good view, which makes the gigantic video screens, replays and between fights entertainment an important part of the show.
WHAT YOU WON’T SEE: A fight card anywhere near as exciting as those seen in Montreal and Toronto. After those cities have had their fill of Canadian content and title fights, there’s just not a lot left for Vancouverites to barrack for. Montreal was the first Canadian city to embrace the UFC, so they’ll always have pride of place and get the best match-ups, and Toronto has a 55,000 seat arena to exploit, so they’ll have Georges St Pierre title fights and Canadians up and down the fight card. But much as Vancouver experienced in 2010, when we were given a Rich Franklin/Chuck Liddell retirement party, Vancouver 2011 will be a card that only genuine fans can anticipate with glee. Which isn’t to say it’ll suck (last year’s Vancouver UFC event was a good time), just that it’s not one of those cards people plan their month around.
WHAT YOU WILL SEE: A heavyweight contest absolutely nobody has been waiting for in Jon Olav Einemo vs Dave Herman. Both of these guys were supposed to be tomato cans for other opponents (Herman for the injured Rob Broughton and Einemo for the coming off a bad loss and courtroom issues and now fighting in the main event Shane Carwin), but have found themselves opposed because, well, they’re present. Hey, maybe it’ll be a fight for the ages. But the fact that this fight will be televised on the pay-per-view is indicative of the talent gauge being set to ‘low’ for this event.
WHAT YOU WON’T SEE: Anyone in the crowd – at all – regretting being there for the Sam Stout vs Yves Edwards bash. Ontario-based Stout is Mr Fight of the Night, a stone-fisted slugger with a propensity for the tactic of defence-through-offence. If Stout ends this fight looking like the backside of a dog after a hard and lengthy period of kicking, that won’t mean he’ll have lost, it’s just how he rolls. In Edwards, we’re dealing with a guy who practices what he calls Thug-Jitsu, and who held the mantle of having delivered the greatest head kick in the history of the UFC when he booted the temple of Josh Thompson in UFC 49. Expect war.
WHAT YOU WILL SEE: A solid undercard streamed live on YouTube, Facebook, and shown on Spike TV.
WHAT YOU WON’T SEE: David Cadman. Which is worth the price of admission.Tags: featured, Junior Dos Santos, Kenny Florian, Rogers Arena, sam stout, Shane Carwin, UFC 131, yves edwards