UFC: What Happens in Vegas
It was Saturday night, December 30, 2006. I was in Las Vegas, about to enter the MGM Grand Garden Arena to watch Chuck Liddell, the champion, take on Tito Ortiz in a mixed-martial-arts Ultimate Fighting Champion match.
As a long-time fan of UFC, I was extremely excited. Little did I know that history was going to be made and the future of the UFC and the entire sport of MMA would be impacted by the events that were to take place that night.
As I walked into the deafeningly loud arena with my family and friends, I passed Mike Goldberg, the color commentator of UFC, and Eddie Bravo, a world-class submission grappler as well the unofficial scorer for UFC.
As I continued to my seat numerous familiar faces and sights appeared in the crowd. There was Josh Koshcheck and Mike Swick from the Spike TV show ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’
There were countless men with deformed (cauliflower) ears, a badge of honor earned from years of wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu or fighting.
As I continued through the crowd to my seat I saw more gold, diamonds, and silicon-enhanced cleavage in the arena.
I finally reached my seat and I saw A.C. Slater from ‘Saved by the Bell,’ my favorite show as kid. He is with George Maloof of the famous Maloof Brothers, who happen to own the Palms hotel in Las Vegas as well as the Sacramento Kings basketball team.
Just as I get settled in my seat, I see the ‘Mind Freak’ himself, Criss Angel.
I was also sitting near Marlon Wayans.
The fight card began with the winner of ‘The Ultimate Fighter 2,’ British fighter Michael Bisping.
Much to the surprise of some audience and MMA fans, the UFC announced the signing of world-class striker and current Pride Fighting Open-Weight Grand Prix Champion Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic, who will debut in February.
This signing will change the MMA landscape in the near future and let the fans know the UFC intends to stay on top of the MMA world.
It was now time for the reigning UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, the ‘Iceman,’ Chuck Liddell, to defend his title against ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,’ Tito Ortiz.
It was pandemonium at the Grand Garden Arena as the fighters entered the ring. The fans were brought to a frenzy as fight-time neared.
Round one began with the ‘feeling out’ process between the two fighters. Then Liddell stunned Ortiz with a punch and began to pummel him. Amazingly, Ortiz somehow survived the onslaught, escaping with a large cut over his eye. Round two was a tactical standup battle that Ortiz seemed to get the better of.
In round three, while trading punches, Liddell landed a combination that again hurt Ortiz. This time he finished Ortiz with unanswered strikes, forcing the referee to stop the fight.
The entire crowd erupted with screams and cheers for Liddell.
As a result of being part of the spectacle I felt my blood seeping through my veins with the feeling of invincibility.
As I write this article almost three weeks after the event, I realize that infamous saying, ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,’ is not true. Vegas is indeed alive and well within me and my memories.