I was so excited. The first UFC match ever in China, and I was going to watch! A lot of things added to my growing excitement: The first Chinese MMA in the UFC and UFC veteran Rich Franklin were going to fight in tonight’s matches. An aura of energy among the spectators created an atmosphere of excitement.. And I was going watch it all with my dad, for the first time. It seems that all the foreigners in my part of Asia swarm to these kinds of events (like Lusofania earlier this year). The Venetian was crammed with all assortments of Nationalities from Germans, Koreans and Americans. People had also come from neighboring Hong Kong to watch this iconic event. Scantily clad woman walked around holding bill boards advertising the fight. We lined up to get in at around 7, but things seemed to be a bit delayed. The doors only opened at 7:30, and I wasn’t allowed to bring my DSLR into the match. Thankfully I was able to sneak in my compact for some quick shots. When we finally got in, it was eerily empty. The fight was supposed to start at 8:00, but only ended up starting at 8:45. I toke the chance to take some photos and catch a nap for the long night ahead.
***Unfortunately my compact camera isn’t very good and doesn’t shoot well in low light. I don’t have any more passable photos, and the video quality is horrendous***
We were to the far left of the stage. A cage in an octagon shape had been set up with a light/sound platform hanging suspended a few meters up. To help ease the wait, they played some energetic bass-heavy, hip-hop songs. One things for sure, they had a killer sound system.
They had brought an excellent MC, whose voice really added to the events. He introduced the fighters, as well as celebrities that had come for the opening of the event including Hong Kong Superstars and UFC veterans.
The following are account of some of the fights in no particular order:
My dad and I were worried that there were only 3 fights, judging from the adverts. We were soon proven wrong.
The first round was between the lowest weight competitors, the fly weights (I believe that’s what they are called). I wasn’t very impressed. They spent most of the match on the floor of the cage grappling each other. It’s like they wanted to be on top of each other. They threw some weak punches at each other from their positions on the tarmac but not much else. Not very exciting…
One of the following matches was much more exciting. An African-American, the winner of a season of the ultimate fighter (there were more to come that night) was to fight! On his stat card it showed he had an unorthodox fighting style. He quickly proved his reputation, getting out of a tackle by pushing off the other guys head! The other highlight of the match was when he tackled someone, got up, and got countered as he kicked and got slammed down.
China Vs Brazil. One of the trio of main events.This match split the crowd. We have a Brazilian population here in Macau, and we cheered in unison with them, but here we were split. I cheered madly for China! The Brazilian had a fearsome reputation. A 6 winning streak by submission (3 K.O’s and 3 tap outs). He was undefeated and won every match during the first round. China put up a good fight, not surrendering all three rounds, but he lacked the size to get out of the tackle once he was pinned. A sad round for me.
The ground game. This refers to your locks and wrestling. A Japanese guy with a fearsome reputation of merciless ground and pound and an American with the same strategy to his name. The Japanese guy was on top of him all three rounds, mauling his face. First bloodied face of the night. I kept screaming “Ground and Pound!” louder and louder with each hit to the face.
Then there was a Korean with good tackle defense, and a Brazilian with good tackle offense. The phrase “A good defense is a good offense” was proven here with the Korean on top of him. All. 15 minutes. Of the three rounds.
By the second last event my dad and I where tired. The main event was taking forever to arrive. We went for a piss and to get some food, but it seems like we weren’t the only ones with the idea. By the time we got to the food stall, there was no more food. We had to settle for an orange juice T.T.
Upon returning to the coliseum we snuck back into the middle section where we sat behind some drunk people who made it infinitely more entertaining. They were our impromptu commentators. One fellow Asian man was particularly drunk.
They kept screaming “TAP OUT OR KNOCKOUT” and “YOU F*CKING PUSSIES THROW A PUNCH.” The second to last match was a weak showing and the crowd showed it with lots of booing, with a loud British guy shouting “Have we had ONE KNOCKOUT YET!?!?” The match finally ended in a tap out in the second round.
Finally the main event arrived. What we had been waiting for all night. China vs America. UFC veteran Rich Franklin vs Cung Le. After a short introduction it turns out Cung Le was Vietnamese, not Chinese as I thought. Meh, was all I could say. Franklin, in his pre-game coverage said that he had been training with martial artist and was confident he could counter Cung’s style.
Now we had finally progressed to the heavy weights. This was a slower game. One punch could end the fight, so the players squared off slowly, making feints and sizing the enemy up. 1 Minute in Franklin missed a kick, and Cung toke his chance. A solid right to the face, combined with the forward momentum of Franklin’s body. K. O.
Cung LE was ecstatic. He jumped onto the edge of the cage, he cartwheels and somersaulted. The drunk Asian man turned to me and exclaimed “He just won a house!” A bit anticlimactic for the main event. We had waited 5 hours for it, but it was time to go home.
***And in the green corner, at 120 pounds, 1.73 meters tall and a professional record of 30 losses. Willliaaaaammm “Trrrroollll” IIIEEEOONNGGGG***