Sunday, May 01, 2011

UFC 129 Roundup

I think my night can pretty much be summed up in one word:


UFC 129 was amazing. I wasn't sure what I'd get for $150 plus a little extra for the Fight Club membership that got us the tickets before sales were open to the public. I was even a little wary that I wouldn't know what was going on--I pretty much only watch when GSP is fighting, and even then, not really.

But live, the experience is COMPLETELY different. The energy of 55,000 people focusing on two guys in an Octagon just swamps you. The joules of energy put out by the speakers as bass-heavy music throbs through the stadium makes your gut vibrate. The enormous screens everywhere make sure you never miss a moment, and with binoculars, I actually got a great view of everything. On top of that, it's all you can focus on. No walking away to answer the phone, no heading to the computer to check Twitter (the Rogers Centre has no reception when the dome is closed, so just turn off your phone and save battery life, folks). You must watch. And you can't blink, because stuff happens so quick, you can barely believe your eyes.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

First off, the walk to the Rogers Centre: I picked up a GSP-style headband, 2 for $10, coming out of Union Station. I don't know what the kanji says (it's got something different from what's on GSP's), but it was cheap enough that I was willing to get one to at least pretend to look like I was a serious fan. With my luck, it probably says "Sucker."

On the way along the Skywalk, dozens of sponsors and companies were handing out products. I did not know that Tapout was actually an energy drink. Buxom, scantily-clad ladies were giving out these insane tallboys in all flavors. The closer to the Dome you got, though, the more cans--open and unopened--we saw lying about. John and I cracked ours open. It was Peach Mango flavored: the manliest of the frooty flavors, apparently. We took a swig.

It tasted like fruit-flavored piss. And yet somehow, John finished it. I'm sure it was giving him a much needed (temporary) boost. (We pretty much walked all the way from our house to the Rogers Centre--about 4 hours worth of walking.)

We missed the first fight on the card, and our friends informed us it was a solid fight. I hadn't hurried much since I thought it might start a little late and would probably feature some boring fights. Boy, was I wrong. The card has almost entirely Canadian fighters up against Americans. It was obvious who the crowd was rooting for. And the fights were fantastic. They put on a good show. My favorite was Rory MacDonald vs Nate Diaz. At 21, Rory MacDonald looks like he's barely learned how to shave. He's lanky as hell, and I could see some serious acne and backne with my binoculars. It was a slow start, and the kid was cautious. It didn't help that Diaz kept taunting him, but that ended quick enough. In the third round, the kid picked him up and slammed him to the ground three times. That third time, everyone shot out of their seats, screaming. It was probably the moment I realized I was having a FREAKING AWESOME TIME. Canadians won all the matchups, except for Yves Jabouin, who lost to Pablo Garza, Sean Pierson, who lost against Jake Ellenberger, and Mark Bocek, who lost against Ben Henderson. But they were still good matches.

Neither John nor I consumed alcohol at this event. Mostly because tallboys--Budweiser or Keith's, no other choices--were $9.75 and $10.75 respectively. I opted for a bottle of Diet Coke--$4.75--and water--$4.50--when the thirst became too much to bear.

In between matches, I frequented the bathroom, which was blissfully lineup free for the ladies. Not so much for guys. (Suck it, males.) Speaking of women, the breakdown was about 1 girl for every 10 guys. Maybe it was better than that, but from where I sat, it was about that.

When Randy Couture came up to fight against Lyoto Machida, the whole audience stood up to applaud him. At 47, the guy has gray in his eyebrows. He had a really strong defense, and kept his guard up always. By the second round, though, Machida KO'd him with a stunning kick to the head. No one was upset. The two men were so gracious to each other. Machida even eschewed his translator during the post-fight Rogan interview so he could tell the world himself how much respect he had for Couture. What a terrific torch-passing match it was.

After that, it was the Hominick/Aldo fight. Aldo's a solid fighter, and really fast. He really had Hominick on the defensive. And then, Hominick got some kind of blow to the head. I couldn't exactly pinpoint when it happened, but it started off as a quarter sized white lump that just swelled and swelled in less than thirty seconds until it looked like a second head was forming. The crowd was screaming in horror. Look at these before and after shots:

They stopped the match so a physician could look at it and make sure it wasn't more serious.

The match went on. Aldo had dominated up to that fifth round, but I think he was afraid to hit that lump again, at which point Hominick managed several takedowns and got some good punches in. The win went to Aldo, though, but Mark got lots of applause. He really took his lumps.

Finally, the main event, GSP vs Jake Shields. It was nearly 11:30 pm by this point. Maybe I was getting tired, but after the excitement of the other matches, I wasn't as pumped as I thought I'd be to see GSP live. Or maybe I was just worried for him. In the end, I was a little disappointed by the fight: GSP kept it almost entirely stand-up. He probably could have finished him on the ground, but I wonder now, since his performance in UFC 111 against Dan Hardy, whether he's trying to give a better show and get more KOs in.

Well, it didn't happen this time. In fact, Shields bloodied GSP's face up pretty good. I'm used to seeing Georges entirely unscathed, so it was a little shocking when I heard later that he had to go to the hospital for his injuries. He sustained a hit to the left eye and apparently he can't see (he assured everyone on Twitter it's not a retina issue.) Kudos to Shields for a good match. He really has been the most dangerous opponent GSP has faced. I'm just a little sad GSP didn't finish him the way he wanted.

So the night should have ended there, but then some lout in our section got into a brawl without someone who messed him up really good. When they broke it up, he went at it with someone else. Security got there eventually and escorted the punk out. Dude was covered in blood and was trying to act all tough by tasting it and smiling for the crowd as they watched him walk away. Stupid ass idiot is going to regret that today when he realizes his ugly ass face is now even uglier.

We called it a night, though John and I hit Chinatown for a late-night meal at King's Noodle.
"Gawn Chow Gnaw Haw" (beef-fried soy sauce rice noodle) is the perfect hangover food even when you're not hungover.

Today, I am recovering and writing and basking in post-fun glow. It was expensive, it was rough, but I had a fantastic time. If the UFC comes back to Toronto, I may be up for another round. Fun times!