Title: Live UFC 83 Review
Date: April 22, 2008
Original Source: The On Deck Circle
Synopsis: I attended the first ever UFC event in Canada, UFC 83 in Montreal. These are my thoughts on each fight, and the experience in general.
That was a great weekend in Montreal. Yes, it came right after a hellacious week of exams and ended with an ugly Raptors loss and Blue Jay controversy, but from Friday at dinner time to Sunday morning, I couldn’t have had more fun. People can chirp mixed martial arts and fans of the sport all they want, but there is nothing gay about it – this stuff is one of the most entertaining sports out there, and 19,099 other people at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec on Saturday night would agree with me.
Yes, I was there for the UFC’s debut in Canada, a sold-out mega-event in the heart of downtown Montreal. I’ve never really been to Montreal when I was old enough to enjoy it. This wasn’t a weekend you’d go to enjoy the usual Montreal things…sure, there were stores, clubs, and women, but they all took a back seat to a handsome, clean-cut, 170-pound francophone who may or may not be the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world.
Words can’t really do the event justice, and since you probably don’t care about the rest of my weekend (getting hit on constantly, picking up Mandy Moore, knocking out Heath Herring at Supersex, etc), I’ll try my best to let you in on what it felt like to be there for Georges St. Pierre’s homecoming and the debut of a major fight company in Canada.
Pre-Show and Random Thoughts
The fans were out in full force all day Saturday, and St. Catharines Street was a sea of Canadiana, with several flags, shirts, and GSP headbands floating around. The best sign I saw was “Terra Serra a New Asshole” on a Canadian flag, and a sign like that at the Hardrock Cafe at 4PM is an indication of the buzz surrounding the event all weekend. It felt like everyone I talked to was there for the pay per view.
It was even crazier when we showed up to the Bell Centre at 7PM (when doors opened, fights started at 7:30) and it seemed like all 19,100 fans were there already. Oh, and maybe 15,000 of those were men, maybe more. The few women there were scantily clad and smoking hot, but they were tough to find, for sure (don’t worry, they found me). The Bell Centre did an excellent job with crowd control and getting everyone in and oriented pretty quickly.
One important note here is that…who cares if Joe Rogan didn’t announce, because I swear he sat behind me. The guy behind me apparently knew everything about MMA and, while the crowd overall seemed to be intelligent fans, this guy as brutal. He constantly called moves the wrong name and called the fight over after just about anything happened. It was irritating but pretty hilarious.
I hit the bathroom quickly, where it was already packed, and I took part in a “GSP!” chant while I was holding my Johnson. Someone with a death wish yelled out “Go Serra” and someone honestly threatened to piss on him. The arena set-up was great. I sat in section 120, about 15 rows up from behind the net if it were a hockey game. My sightline was great and any time they pressed against the cage, the video screens (which were huge and numerous) took care of it. For those wondering, you see all of the pre-fight video packages live, too, which is cool, though I couldn’t hear them over between-fight “GSP” chants the whole night. One of said chants got interrupted promptly at 7:30, though, for…
Jonathan Goulet d. Kuniyoshi Hironaka by TKO-Strikes at 2:07 of Round 1
This was crazy. The stadium was maybe half full at this point, and we could not even hear Bruce Buffer for the opening introductions. On the topic, Bruce Buffer was fantastic Saturday, his best performance ever, and he really fed off the live crowd, jumping around screaming and just being awesome. Who had him becoming better than Michael Buffer? Anyways, Goulet wins via strikes and the roof had already come a little loose, since Goulet is from Victoriaville. Great choice to open the show.
Cain Velasquez d. Brad Morris by TKO-Strikes at 2:10 of Round 1
I went to get a beer and had to watch it on a TV screen in line. Kyle’s boy Velasquez looked impressive.
Rich Clementi d. Sam Stout by Split Decision (29-27, 29-28, 28-29)
Anyone who thinks a crowd can’t affect the outcome of a match needs to watch this one. And don’t let the decision fool you, this fight was awesome. It was three rounds of clean striking, good take-downs, and constant action on the ground. A few times Stout looked completely out of it, locked into a submission or being peppered with strikes, but every time the crowd got behind the London native and he rose up. Stout was overmatched in this one, and the crowd was the difference, enough to even win him the fight on one score card. Stout has a lot of improvements to make but is young and could be a marketable player down the line. And hey, at least No Love didn’t crotch chop this time, like he did to Melvin Guillard…the crowd may have killed him if he did.
Demian Maia d. Ed Herman by Submission-Triangle Choke at 2:27 of Round 2
I spent this fight making Ginger jokes. Good fight, and Maia’s Jiu Jitsu looked great, as Kyle predicted. He needs to work on some other things to be a contender, but he definitely has game. Poor Herman…his Gingervitis really cost him this fight, which is a shame, since it’s a disease.
Jason Day d. Alan Belcher by TKO-Strikes at 3:58 of Round 1
Jason “Dooms” Day is a sweet name. This was a great fight and the crowd was behind Day, even though he didn’t look that sharp. He rebounded from a few sloppy scenarios to get the TKO. By this point there was a lot of time to kill before 10PM air time so it slowed down, but appearances by Forrest Griffin (in a Habs jersey) and Heath herring (with a Mohawk, and allegedly fresh from the strip club the night before, according to the guy in front of me).
Jason McDonald d. Joe Doerksen by TKO-Strikes at 0:56 of Round 2
Tough breaj for Doerksen to be cheered against even though he’s Canadian, but such is life against a well-known fighter. McDonald looked good even though El Dirty seemed close to a win a few times, and overall this was a mismatch.
Mac Danzig d. Mark Bocek by Submission-Rear Naked Choke at 3:48 of Round 3
This was a questionable bout to open the show with, on paper, since Bocek wasn’t crazy over with the crowd and both of these guys tend to be slower fighters. That said, the crowd got behind Bocek and liked Danzig, so they were mostly just loud for the whole fight regardless of what happened. These guys ended up putting on a great display and even a casual fan wouldn’t have complained about this three round battle. Danzig was a heavy favorite, and there’s his first real W outside of TUF, so he can build from here.
Michael Bisping d. Charles McCarthy by TKO after Round 1
I was in disbelief at how much the crowd was behind Bisping. I guess, as Canadians, anyone who’s not American is Canadian? Bisping was heavily cheered and destroyed Charles McCarthy. At one point, McCarthy stuck his chin out mockingly, so we chanted “Fuck him up!” Then…McCarthy couldn’t even stand up for the 2nd round, a warning to everyone not to be a cocky homo if you’re wildly overmatched in a fight.
Nate Quarry d. Kalib Starnes by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-24)
The crowd didn’t take long to turn on BC-native Kalib Starnes, who is a gigantic wad. I said beforehand he’d be the only Canadian I didn’t cheer for, and everyone else took that approach after he ran away from Quarry for a full round (and then two more). When an opponent is mocking you and covering his eyes in front of you and you don’t do anything, you’re a bitch, for lack of a better word. Quarry had the highlight of the night after the fight, when the crowd was cheering him, pulling a line from Rocky IV and saying, “The crowd cheered for me by the end…if you can change, and I can change, we can all change.” It was awesome, and he went up several notches in my book for it.
Rich Franklin d. Travis Lutter by TKO-Strikes at 3:01 of Round 2
Obviously, the crowd was behind Ace against the out-of-shape Lutter. Tough to respect a guy who didn’t make weight for a title fight, right? Franklin dominated him and laughed at him after the fight. I’m hungover right now, so that’s all the analysis you get. Where the hell does Franklin go from here?
Georges St. Pierre d. Matt Serra by TKO-Knee Strikes at 4:45 of Round 2
To become the new (Two-time! Two-time!) UFC Welterweight Champion
Words cannot describe this. I couldn’t hear anything the whole time, from the video package to when the fight started. Serra was booed like crazy (he made the good choice of coming out to, I think, a Joe Budden song that is good for pumping up and tough to boo to…to no avail, though), and whenever they went from GSP to Serra on screen all night it was boo-cheer-boo-cheer, it was pretty fun. Whn GSP came out to a nice French rap song, the lid blew off the place. I have honestly never been somewhere that loud, and I’ve never been part of a mob that big all with one clear goal like that. GSP tried to look unaffected (Serra flipped us off, instead) but you could tell it was getting to him. The fight itself was 10 minutes of total domination, and it was the first time I can remember seeing a TKO stoppage from knees to the ribs. Serra’s face was busted up, he probably couldn’t breathe, and St. Pierre looked fresh from the salon, not the octagon. When they announced him the winner, I think Bruce Buffer just gave up trying to be heard. GSp fought back tears and Serra did what we all expected, losing with respect and honor and raising GSP’s hand, the right thing to do. Obviously, Serra played up the bad guy role for this fight. Anyways, words are not doing this justice. It was the single coolest thing I’ve been a part of, no exaggeration, and that’s the best I can do to describe the main event to you.
Seriously, that night was just awesome. I’ve never been to an arena or event that loud, and it blows out the Raptors home opener, which was maybe the previous record holder. I’m sure when I (maybe) hit Game 3 on Thursday, it won’t compare to Saturday night, either. If the UFC ever comes back to Canada, regardless of who’s fighting, I’d recommend going. It’s expensive and has a certain stigma, sure, but it’s well worth it for the atmosphere alone.