Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My LIVE(ish) UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans Review!

A full recap of last Saturday’s PPV (and some stuff about pizza burgers, too!)


So anyway, I took a trip down to Atlanta (where the players, I have heard, continue to “play”) this weekend to see my first LIVE Ultimate Fighting Championship show, and it was, in a word, “awesome-tastic.”

If you ever get an opportunity to catch a live UFC event, I saw take it, especially if you live in a non-regularly toured part of the country like I do. I have had some fantastic sporting experiences in my day, and I would have to say that my UFC 145 experience was way the hell up there in terms of live events I have attended. A controversial call, to be sure, but I think it may have been even more awesome than that New Kids on the Block /Backstreet Boys double bill I went to last summer. Like I said, may have been.

So, what should you expect heading into a UFC show? Right off the bat, I can tell you this: there are going to be a LOT of people there. In fact, there’s going to be at least five hundred times more people there than you think will be there, proving once and for all that MMA has gone mainstream like a mother lover. As a dude that has lived in the metro-ATL pretty much his entire life, I can tell you straight up that Philips Arena is NEVER filled up for anything, whether it’s a Hawks post-season game or those two times we had playoff hockey in town. When I hit Centennial Park on Saturday, I was absolutely FLOORED by the throng of people gumming up the walkways outside the Dome and the World of Coke. Apparently, every single MMA fan from Mississippi to North Carolina had made the trip to A-Town, and if you had a nickel for every “Tapout” logo on display, you would…well, you would definitely have a lot of nickels, that’s for sure.

A couple of UFC fighters were giving out autographs before the show, including Ben Henderson, Clay Guida, Forrest Griffin and Josh Barnett (although I  personally didn’t see him anywhere.) Some ads had been released in the community earlier in the week promising an appearance by Chael “Jesus Christ, only better” Sonnen, but much to my dismay, he had apparently cancelled his trip. And I SO wanted to hear his advice for grad school, too.

The proper show kicked off at about 7 p.m. EST. You really can’t get a grasp of how large the cage is until you see it in person - on TV, it looks about the size of a trampoline, but up-close, it’s a pretty huge structure, easily big enough to have an old school pro-wrestling battle royale inside it. Another thing you really can’t experience via your television set is the acoustics of the event - when a dude kicks another dude in the face, you can literally hear the sound of bone on bone, which is the kind of thing that makes a live UFC event twenty times more disturbing (and awesome) than watching it on TV. Conversely, when it gets loud - and believe you me, it can get very - it’s virtually impossible to think. How guys like Dave Meltzer can type up recaps while 30,000 people cheer their hearts out is beyond me, and how guys like Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg can do LIVE COMMENTARY with an entire arena chanting and hollering is absolutely inconceivable. And lastly, I have to give some major props to the in-house DJ, who was spinning tracks literally in front of me. Dude, you got some mad skills, especially when you did that phat ass remix of the “American Bandstand” theme. Dick Clark would no doubt be pleased.

UFC 145 trucked into Atlanta this weekend. Get it? Because it's a picture of a truck!

Featherweight Bout: Marcus Brimage vs. Maximo Blanco

The opening bout was pretty disappointing, with the “Bama Beast” Brimage defeating Maximo Blanco by split decision. There really wasn’t too much to say about this one, other than the fact that they started doing all of this gymnastic shit after the fight was over. Oh, and in the preview video, it sort of sounded like Goldberg called Blanco a “former King of Pancakes” as opposed to Pancrase. A very lackluster fight.

Welterweight Bout: Chris Clements vs. Keith Wisniewski

This was probably the second best fight of the show, and a bout that really got the crowd fired up. Clements took a split decision victory, although I have a hard time seeing how ANY judge could call Wisniewski a winner in ANY of the rounds that evening. Also, Clements gets bonus points for coming out to “Rockin’ Robin,” which, as you will soon see, wasn’t anywhere close to being the most esoteric entrance theme of the night. A really good fight right here.

Lightweight Bout: Mac Danzig vs. Effrain Escudero

I guess this one right here was our reverse fight of the night, because I can’t recall a single damn thing about it, other than the fact that there was this one guy a couple of sections over yelling out stuff in Spanish every other second. As Escudero made the decision to come out to mariachi music, I attempted to get a “where’s our chips and salsa?” chant going, but sadly, it never picked up with the rest of the crowd. The dude beside me’s “USA!” chant, on the other hand, did. In case you were wondering (and you don’t), Danzig won this one by decision. A very, very lackluster fight.

Lightweight Bout: John Makdessi vs. Anthony Njokuani

A somewhat decent fight, although Njokuani was in control from bell to bell. The guys beside me started taking bets on the fights, although they had no idea what the actual combatants’ names were. As a result, for the next 15 minutes, all I heard were contrasting chants of “Go Canada!” and “Go Nigeria!,” with the periodic “No Homo!” chant every time things got taken to the ground. Just when did that particular phrase come into popularity, by the way? Njokuani by decision. An average fight, at best.

Welterweight Bout: Matt Brown vs. Stephen Thompson

Hands down the best fight of the night, and probably the best fight I’ve seen all year round (keep in mind, I’ve watched a grand total of just two MMA events this year, so that’s probably not the lofty praise it sounds like) - a fact made even better because they guy beside me was convinced that Brown was somehow Arabian, and kept making jokes about how the Xenia, Ohio native was going to win the fight by “self-detonation.” Thompson, the South Carolinian Kickboxer wunderkind, was the crowd favorite, inspiring a few “S.C.!” chants throughout the bout. Brown - a former heroin addict whose nickname is derived from a survived overdose, by the way - put on the performance of his career, as he outwrestled Thompson from bell to bell. There was so much drama in this one that I don’t know where to begin. Clearly, Brown was the better all around fighter, but Thompson’s lethal leg strikes made this one an unpredictable battle from the first to fifteenth minute. The place nearly exploded when Thompson connected with a flurry of punches heading into the concluding moments of the bout, although it was certainly too little and too late to flip the script. Brown by decision, in what was one hell of a fight. This one, I say, is worth going out of your way to see.

Heavyweight Bout: Travis Browne vs. Chad Griggs

After a night of decisions, Browne gave us our first finish of the evening when he choked out Strikeforce import Griggs (identified as “Wolverine,” presumably due to his sideburns, by the guy next to me). Despite losing, Griggs gets a million billion points anyway, because he came out to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Griggs was out for a pretty long time, probably about a minute. So, if you’re ever wondering why the camera pans on the celebrating victor for so long during some UFC telecasts…well, there you go, I suppose. A really impressive performance by the undefeated Browne, who probably deserves recognition as a top ten heavyweight following this bout.

Lightweight Bout: Mark Bocek vs. John Alessio

A very unremarkable way to kick off the first leg of the PPV portion of the evening’s show. At one point, a fight broke out in the stands, and that was about a million times more interesting than anything that was happening in the cage. The super-awesome casual fan beside me simply referred to these guys as “the ginger and blondie,” at one point referring to Alessio as “90210” and he was super distraught to find out that both of them were Canadian, for some reason. Per my non-state recognized life partner, Alessio sort of looks like Ryan Gosling, so I will take her word for it. Bocek takes an easy decision here, in a really lackluster bout.

Unfortunately, Mr. Sonnen was a no-show for the meet-and-greet. Presumably, because he was too busy at home saying quasi-racist things about Brazilians.

Featherweight Bout: Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin

Probably the third best fight of the night, and easily the worst decision of the night, too. Yagin pretty much dominated the first round, but Hominick definitely did some damage to his adversary in the second (believe you me, even from my vantage point, Yagin’s face looked all sorts of FUBAR-ed heading into the third.) The final round was all Hominick, who was clearly the crowd favorite tonight. Although Hominick’s performance really wasn’t the most impressive of his career, I certainly felt as if it was enough to give him the decision victory. Alas, the judges saw otherwise, giving Yagin a controversial (read: bullshit) split decision call after this one. A really good fight, regardless. LOLZ a plenty when Hominick started doing push-ups after the bout, and Yagin was so gassed that he could only do crunches instead.

Bantamweight Bout: Miguel Torres vs. Michael McDonald

Torres was over HUGE with the crowd, getting the second biggest pop of the night thus far. Nobody really knew who McDonald was, but after the fight, I reckon a whole lot of people are going to take note of him. McD clipped Torres late in the first, dropped him, and pounded him out for a quick TKO. Torres was out for a long time, too. If this bout doesn’t qualify McD as a top five bantamweight fighter in the world, I don’t know what would. Definitely a breakout fight for the up-and-coming 135-pounder, and unquestionably the last nail in Torres coffin’ as a championship contender.

Heavyweight Bout: Brendan Schaub vs. Ben Rothwell

Probably the biggest surprise of the night, with the ex-IFL standout revitalizing his career by scoring an out of nowhere, KO-of-the-night against the Jason Biggs look-a-like early in the first. Rothwell cuts an inspirational speech after the bout, and proved he was a pretty cool dude when he posed for pictures with pretty much everybody on his way out of the cage. A feel-good moment for everybody, pending your name isn’t “Brendan Schaub,” obviously.

Welterweight Bout: Rory MacDonald vs. Che Mills

If you want to talk about star-making performances, you have to talk about Rory’s victory this evening. The Ontario native absolutely demolished his British adversary, pounding him out in the second for a brutal TKO finish. At just 22 years of age, this MacDonald kid has all the makings of a future Welterweight champion, and at this point, I would DEFINITELY have him ranked as a top five fighter in the division. A rivalry with a certain Québécois wrestler is an absolute given in about two years’ time, I prognosticate.

UFC LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT: Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans

The live atmosphere for this fight was absolutely incredible. I thought Evans coming out to Immortal Technique was about the coolest thing ever, UNTIL Jones decided to one-up the challenger and come out to “The Champ is Here.” The first two rounds of this fight were absolutely awesome, with Jones and Evans going back and forth in a super exciting striking-oriented chess game. By the third, however, it was clear that Evans was losing momentum, and heading into the final round, it was pretty much a given that Jones had this one in the bag. Even so, it was a very, very entertaining fight, and the kind that was at least up in the air until the final bell - I can see how some people would be disappointed with the fight, but for me, it lived up to the hype and then some. The big question in the aftermath of this fight is what to do with Jones. This was the most competitive fight the champion has had thus far in his UFC career, and even so, he absolutely dominated his adversary for almost the entirety of the bout. You’ve got Henderson waiting in the wings, and a presumptive title defense against Gustafsson or maybe even Lil’ Nog after that, but from there? Not only has Jones annihilated the Light Heavyweight division, he’s practically eradicated it. A lot of analysts are predicting that Jones will jump up to Heavyweight as soon as next year, but if he runs through Dangerous Dan as easily as he did Evans tonight…well, we might see Jones as a 220-pounder before this year’s even over.

What does this display outside the Georgia Aquarium have to do with UFC 145? Umm...uh...

SHOW HIGHLIGHT: For me, it has to be the Thompson \ Brown bout - just incredible drama and atmosphere that no television broadcast could ever authentically replicate. 

SHOW LOWLIGHT: The Danzig\Escudero bout was about as boring as you’d imagine it to be…times three thousand.

FIVE THINGS I LEARNED FROM TONIGHT’S SHOW:

- It’s customary to take a sip of the bottle of cologne smelling alcohol that the guy next to you just passed to you, even though you swore he pulled the thing out of his sock.

- Even though Jon Jones just beat the living hell out of one of the pound for pound best fighters on the planet for 25 minutes, he’s still somehow a “pussy” according to the angry guy over there wearing a Rashad Evans tee.

- Even though they cost about $55 American, those Jon Jones shirts with the UFC logo styled after the old school Sega logo are probably the best things ever marketed by anybody.

- Kickboxing only goes so far as a martial arts discipline, especially when you have the takedown defense of a quadriplegic turtle.

- Yeah, it’s probably not a good night to pick a fight with a dude whose last name is “MacDonald.”

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you this week. Crank up “Slack Motherfucker” by Superchunk and “Linoleum” by NOFX, and I’ll be seeing you in a few.

Super Bonus Mega Happy Fun Time Additional Material!

How to Make Your Own “Hamburger Pizzas!”

 
You know, after a long night of watching people of various ethnicities and nationalities speak the global tongue of punching each other into states of unconsciousness, you might be a little hungry. However, since you don’t get home until 3 a.m., odds are, you will also be pretty darn sleepy, yourself. This is a common quandary for many a mixed martial arts fan, so today, I would like to introduce you to one of the greatest quick fixes in the history of improvised food: ladies and gentlemen, the hamburger pizza.

Now, I really didn’t find out about the “hamburger pizza” until fairly recently, and when I did, I had to kick myself. “This is the greatest idea in history,” I thought aloud, before making a lengthy serious of nom-nom sounds immediately thereafter. The premise behind the “hamburger pizza” is deceptively simple, and astoundingly palatable: take a hamburger bun, put various pizza ingredients on top of it, bake for a while, and voila


In other words? We’re talking giant sized Bagel Bites, amigos, which is EXACTLY the sort of nutritional paradigm shift you’d think it would be.

So, how do you make one of these delectable treats, you may be wondering? Honestly, it doesn’t take too much intellectual know-how to figure out how these things work - just break out an array of pizza-like things (sauce, pesto, pepperoni, mushrooms, and of course, enough mozzarella to constipate a hippopotamus), sprinkle said ingredients liberally, put in an oven of some kind, and that’s it. 


And in case you’re wondering, after UFC 145, I had at least 25 of them in a row, and that’s not even an exaggeration. At all.

IN THE MOOD FOR MORE MMA-MAYHEM?
CHECK OUT MY COUNTDOWN OF THE GREATEST MMA COMEBACKS OF ALL TIME RIGHT HERE!

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