Tapping Out With TBerg 10.31.08: Episode III - Adventures in Chicago
Posted by Todd Bergman on 10.31.2008
Saturday, October 25th was supposed to be another successful evening for the UFC machine. However, drunken idiots and rude Chicagoans ruined what should have been the UFC’s biggest show outside of Vegas. In this edition of "Tapping Out With TBerg," I examine what went right and what went wrong in Chicago. I also let you in on who endeared themselves to the fans and who spurned them: and I'm not even talking about the fights.
Awesomely bad quote for Episode III "I will beat you into a living death"- Ken Shamrock
It all started Friday morning when UFC Fight Club members were told to show up at 9:30 AM so they could be one of the first ones in line for the UFC 90 weigh-ins. My wife and I arrived early. Being from out of town, we didn't know what the traffic situation would be like and we still weren't quite sure where the Chicago Theatre was located. I wondered why the weigh-ins weren't at the Allstate Arena (the location of the fight), but I quickly found out that the New Kids on the Block had a concert there that evening. That meant the arena was off limits. You think an MMA crowd is tough, imagine having to deal with numerous 250lbs. 30-year-olds who are still trying to get Jordan Knight to impregnate them: not something you want to have to deal with.
However, upon arrival, something didn't feel right. When we approached the Chicago Theatre, I stopped to ask one of the security guards standing out front where the line would start, and he promptly came back with, "I don't know and don't really care. I'm here to make sure that no one stands out here until 9:30, so keep it moving." I figured that I would give the guy some slack; I mean, he is a security guard and is probably annoyed constantly by people like me on a daily basis.
After a quick stop off at Borders Books, 9:30 rolled around, and my wife and I made the journey back to the theatre and noticed that no one was standing out front and that the theatre staff was spraying down the alleyway. I thought that maybe Matt Lindland and his odor had entered the building and security was trying to get the stench out of the alley. This wasn't the case. We were rudely informed by a fat woman that the line now started at 10:00 and that we couldn't stand next to the building. Well, no big deal, a half hour wasn't that long to wait especially when you have plenty of places to shop and sites to see.
Finally, 10:00 rolled around, and we saw some other people looming around the theatre as well. Upon approach, we were told to wait next to the window of a large department store: this made my wife very happy. While it might sound crazy to some people, waiting in line for these events is usually one of the better moments. You usually get to meet some great people and hear stories about their journey to the city. My wife and I met a variety of folks including some crazy Cote fans from Canada who had driven 9 hours just to see him fight and a girl who worked for Oprah carrying every UFC DVD in her purse for the various fighters to autograph. We also met someone who I thought didn't exist: a Sean Sherk fan. I didn't think it was possible, but I was proved wrong.
Around 1:00, security began prepping for the Q&A with Matt Hughes and they went through the line making sure that everyone had their barcodes ready to scan. They also told us that cameras were not allowed inside the theatre. I questioned as to why they weren't allowed and began freaking out as I normally do when things don't go as planned. Some people say that from the ashes a phoenix always rises, and that was definitely my wife. We quickly formed a plan for me to, yes, carry her purse as she sneaked in the camera under her coat. The Oprah lady was told that she was only allowed to carry one purse in, so one of the Canadian guys took her giant, Zebra-stripped purse and carried it himself. The look on the security guard's face was something of a legend. One guy asked why I had a purse and I told him, "Don't judge me man." I came to Chicago to be accepted for my differences.
Finally we made it inside the theatre and the front row. After about an hour of our ears being abused by Metallica rip-off music, Matt Hughes and Goldy made their way out to take part in the Q&A. No earth-shattering news came out of the event except that Hughes has signed on to fight Matt Serra in April and that Hughes wants the event to be in Chicago. Robbie Lawler also made an appearance, and I really hope that he gets another shot in the UFC. He is a better and more-rounded fighter than the old "Ruthless" that previously fought for the UFC back in ‘04.
With the weigh-ins over, the real excitement began with finding fighters, getting autographs, and snapping photos. Here is my list of winners and losers:
Bruce Buffer, Mike Goldberg- Both were extremely nice and took the time to actually talk to the fans. Buffer was being assaulted by an extremely drunk (something that was common in Chicago) blonde who kept kissing him and wouldn't let him go. Goldy approached me and grabbed my Cincinnati Reds shirt and told me that they were his favorite team as well. Small things like that lead to greater respect for these people.
Matt Hughes, Patrick Cote, Rich Clementi- Hughes was a lot nicer than I could have imagined. He's always been portrayed as an arrogant guy, but he took the time to sign my poster and pose for pictures with everyone. I actually met Clementi outside, and he walked over, signed posters, and took pictures for everyone. He really earned a lot of fans that night. Cote was a huge shock to me because I didn't think that he would have the time to sign posters and take pictures considering he was headlining the main event the next night. However, he did and was extremely nice. Also, he had a great sense of humor and some witty one-liners to some jerks in the crowd.
Bobby Lashley- I might have been the only person yelling for Lashley, and he ignored me for a good 10 minutes, but he finally gave in. He motioned for me to come over to the corner, and I did. I asked him how his training with American Top Team was going, and he said that he's ready to impress people. It was very cool of him to take some time out for a former wrestling, now MMA, fan of his.
Spencer Fisher- There cannot and will not be a nicer guy to meet than Spencer Fisher. I ran into him as he was exiting the side entrance of the theatre. He was with his family and took the time to sign my poster and actually have a conversation with me. He said that he didn't want to sign on Anderson Silva's head because Silva would beat him up. I laughed and told him that it was no big deal and that signing anywhere would be cool. He talked for another minute, and I asked him to do his trademark "WOO" with me. He certainly did, and we got loads of weird looks from everyone standing around.
Eddie Bravo & Dean Lister-Both BJJ experts were insanely nice people to meet. Bravo looked completely stoned but was very nice. He gave everyone an opportunity to take a picture of him as he grabbed his crotch and stuck out his tongue. Lister was there in support of Shannon Gugerty and was very soft spoken. I got just a few words out of him as he seemed extremely shy around the crowd.
Tim Sylvia- He's the butt of everyone's jokes, but he really is grateful to have fans and to be recognized. I saw him on the street in front of the aforementioned department store where he was taking pictures with everyone and signing posters. He even laughed when some guy asked him how hard Fedor hit. Sylvia really wins because of the hotness of the girl that he walked away with. Maybe that was Arlovski's old lady. I'm surprised that no one made the "How's my pee-pee taste" joke.
Dana White & Arianny- Dana really knows how to play to a crowd. Some guy before me was getting a picture taken with him and had on an Affliction T-shirt. Dana asked him if it was an Affliction shirt and the guy sheepishly answered yes. Dana responded with, "I don't care; they will be out of business in a couple of months." This is the second time that I've met Dana, and he's always said thank you to everyone. I also met Arianny for the second time and she still doesn't turn down pictures no matter how ugly the person is. I'm sure that it has to get annoying to have all these drunken fans trying to grab you, but she acts like it's the greatest gig in theworld.
Sean Sherk- He walked right beside me, and I approached with my pen and poster ready for him to sign. When I asked him to sign my poster, he told me that he had "better things to do." He didn't sign anything from anyone. While I respect Sherk as a fighter and did applaud him at the event, I have zero respect for him as a person. He always whines about people booing him and not being respected and then he snubs his fans. I realize that he had an extremely important fight the next night, but Cote took the time, why couldn't he? I'm just really glad that the guy who liked Sherk wasn't around because his image of "The Muscle Shark" would have been shattered.
Mandy Moore- Why the hell is she on this list, you ask? She was at the weigh-ins and utterly refused to take pictures or sign anything. I realize that she was out with friends and wanted to have a good time, but there were only 4 people who recognized her from A Walk to Remember that wanted a picture with her. She walked right by us and didn't even give us the time of day. She also knocked over someone's water and made a huge mess.
I'm missing you like candy!!
Gray Maynard- His fight with Clementi doesn't even figure into this. Gray stood right in front of everyone, talked on his cell phone, and refused to sign anything. I thought that would change after his phone conversation was over, but it didn't. Maybe Couture hasn't gotten to the "respect fans" portion of training yet, or maybe he's nicknamed "The Bully" for reasons besides fighting.
I awoke on Saturday afternoon with great excitement for the night to come. My first live UFC event and I was like a kid on Christmas morning. My wife and I arrived at the Allstate Arena at 6pm to the surprise of people already being let into the arena. With extreme fear of low flying planes, I braced myself for the walk into the arena that was only 5 miles away from O'Hare Airport. My wife made it through the check-in process without a hitch. I myself was stopped because of my camera. I thought that it was because the camera was in a bag, and they wanted to make sure I wasn't carrying a bomb or something. To my surprise, I was told that the zoom on my SLR camera was too big and that I couldn't bring it in. I told them that I was sitting near the top and wanted to have some excellent pictures to remember this. I also questioned why I wasn't allowed to bring it in since the website didn't say "No SLR Cameras." I was told, and I quote, "The promoters don't like cameras with that big of a zoom." In shock, I said, well that's a stupid rule. I still don't understand why I wasn't able to bring that camera in. It wasn't like I was going to get a picture of Dana White giving Earl Hebner the sign to ring the bell once Cote put Silva in the sharpshooter. Here is the only picture that I was able to grab inside the arena.
Even though I was extremely disappointed to not get the pictures I wanted, my wife and I made our way to our seats. Once we got there, I squished myself into my seat as a rather large guy next to me had taken all my leg room. Throughout the evening, we constantly had to stand up as frat boy after frat boy passed us to go get more beer. I rarely got a glance at the Octagon because people everywhere had to stand up and to allow others to get their alcohol. While it may seem like I'm against the drinking of alcohol, I'm not, and believe that you have the right to drink as much as you want just as long as you don't cause a disturbance around you.
A disturbance in the force, indeed
The constant booing, and yelling of obscenities was annoying. Every time the fight would go to the ground, some idiot would yell, "Stand ‘em up. I didn't pay for male on male porn." Obviously, 4 hours of this was beyond my limit. The guy next me apparently had enough and left before the Silva/Cote fight, which shocked me because the main event is what most people pay for. The UFC needs to make a change much like pro sports regarding alcohol. I think that they should stop serving alcohol before the main card starts. That way, people can drink freely up until the live pay-per-view action starts and the main card is littered with unreasonable boo's and other tomfoolery.
I hope that you have enjoyed my Adventures in Chicago. Gina Carano will be back next week to defend her title once more. Two more weeks, and we shall retire her bra and panties high above the 411mania.com battlefield. Have a happy and safe Halloween! Remember to support your local MMA and keep your tapping hand strong.