Call me Russ L

UFC75: Champion vs Champion/London Calling

Posted in Combat Sports by Russ L on 10 September, 2007

To London we (The Boy Trigger and myself) went on Saturday the 8th, for UFC75. There are two ways I could lead into this – I could begin by telling you how badly we were treated by Travelodge and how they moved us from one hotel to another against our will and so on, but that’s a story for a post of its own. I’ll be coming back to that. Oh lord how I will be coming back to that.

The other possible beginning is the ‘big weekend of sports’ intro. Now, I don’t give a toss about any sports that don’t involve fighting. Boooooooring, sez I. Many people at work, though, spoke of there being a lot of sport happening that weekend. There was Junior Witton vs Vivian Harris (this was the exception, ‘cos obviously I do give a toss about boxing. I offered a 10p bet that Witter would stop him inside eight. It wasn’t taken up. Witter, naturally, won by KO in round seven…), football (England vs Israel, of great importance to Trig if not me) and… I dunno. They said there was loads of stuff going on, but I wasn’t paying attention. Cricket and tennis, perhaps? I think it may have been but I really don’t know.

None of them mentioned the greatest sport in the world evaaah, good ol’ Mixed Martial Arts. UFC75 hit London, and I was hugely excited to see it. We got down to Marylebone and found The Feathers (yet again my life proves Royal Family-esque) where we were temporarily meeting a couple of Trig’s associates without (too much) trouble, and then headed off on the Jubilee Line before splitting for a bit. He was getting off at North Greenwich to find a pub near the arena in which he could watch England vs Israel. A joyous farewell (joyous on my part. He doesn’t half get on your nerves after a bit) was accompanied by another reminder that we weren’t too far (relatively speaking) from Tottenham, so For God’s Sake don’t get too anti-semitic in the heat of football-watching.

I hung on for another stop to Canning Town, and then transferred to the Docklands Light Railway (I’d never heard of it prior to the planning of this trip – from the name I was picturing either a colonial style freight train with passengers sitting on top and clinging to the sides, or a toy-town/Thomas The Tank sort of affair) to get to London City Airport. After some helpful directions from a cockney (he seemed to think it was Sunday, which it wasn’t, but still: “The Londonese – A Great Bunch Of Lads”) I got to the Travelodge, and after checking-in found that they’d given us the wrong room. Once again, I’ll be coming back to this in a subsequent post. It will temporarily suffice to say that it didn’t come as a huge surprise by this point.

Back on a rewind, then, to North Greenwich and into the 02 arena (erstwhile the Millennium Dome). Jesus Christ In A Sidecar Wearing Goggles, it’s big. The actual building is obscenely large but does contain a small town’s city-centre worth of restaurants and drinking establishments. Get through those, though, and you have what surely must be The Biggest Arena I Have Ever Been In at the centre of it. It’s ever-so slightly scary, especially when your seats are as high up as ours. Whooo, vertiginous. They were good seats, though – we had a good view of the octagon, even if it was 381 miles away, and a perfect view of a big screen to our left (if they were visible on the telly broadcast, you had two each on the long sides of the arena above sections of seating, one on the other side where there wasn’t any seating, and one suspended in the air in front of the short side with seating. We were to the left of that as you would have looked at it). We were looking at the back of it, of course, and thus the images were reversed. I had at least two “justwaitonegoddamnedminute – he’s not normally a southpaw!” moments.

Anyway, I got in and to my seat literally a couple of minutes before the first fight started, and Trig rejoined (flushed with vicarious victory) two-and-a-half fights in. I’m not going to go on about every fight (there’s better commentary that you can read in a thousand other places on the internet), so here are a few random points (and I really do apologise for the excessive amount of bullet points just lately):

– My picks were terrible. This was quite possibly my worst ever picking performance.

– Jess Liaudin looked great, knocking Torres from pillar to post. Given that the domestic personnel were surprisingly similar between this card and Manchester, I was hoping that Liadin/Taylor/Etim etc weren’t just being used as ‘that lot we have on the undercard when we run a card in the UK.’ Now I hope so even more, primarily for Liaudin’s sake.

– Harsh right hook from Siver, although Kotani looked finished before then.

– Drwal vs Silva was fun, but Drwal was gassed towards the end (dropping his hands a lot etc). I was expecting a hell of a lot more Polish support in the arena than there actually was.

– Terry Etim’s loss (despite him defending very well off his back with that ‘ankle up by your neck’ style guard) was yet another stroke of evidence why this country will always be at least slightly handicapped in MMA due to the fact that wrestling is not one of our mainstream sports.

Houston Alexander looks exactly like Queeg 500. This had never occurred to me before. This was also enough to make Trig a huge fan of his on the spot.

– Oh, damnit. Walsall’s Paul Taylor was so close, with a knock-down headkick and a brutal burst of ground ‘n’ pound. The ref seemed to move sharply towards them at one point, and I thought that was it. Alas, no. Marcus “The American Who Reckons He’s Irish Like A Lot Of Americans Seem To For Some Reason” Davis should get full credit for surviving that and taking control, though, no question. Full marks to Paul for confusing Americans with his righteous accent in the pre-fight interview, though. That’s got to be worth something.

– Cro-Cop looks shot, and timid far beyond the point of caution. Retirement surely beckons. It’s amazing to think that Cro-Cop vs Arlovski would once have been one of the matches I’d have been most keen to see. Now it sounds like one of the least appealing fights that could possibly be made.

– I’m a Michael Bisping fan and have been for a good while, but I’m about to add my voice to the huge “Hamill was robbed” choir. On the night, I had it 30-28 (two rounds to Hamill, the last one drawn). Re-watching it (and I don’t think I’m allowed to link to where, sorry) I was inclined to give the last round to Mikey B, but that’s still 29-28. In the first two rounds Hamill beat Bisping to the punch and landed more frequently (the majority of Mike’s strikes bounced off Hamill’s arms), took him down a few times (I have ‘some’ degree of sympathy for those who say that takedowns are a means to an end, but since they were pretty much the only decisive thing that went on grappling-wise I think they count for scoring purposes) and was the only one moving forwards. I‘ll give the last round to Bisping and maybe the second round was closer than I initially thought, but that doesn’t make it close. I really do think this was a bad decision. Still, it looks like we might be getting a rematch. On a side note, “London Calling” trumped “Born In The USA” as entrance music in a most spectacular fashion. It’s just a shame the fight wasn’t as decisive.

– The main event was the only one I called perfectly, and I was happy with that. I’d scored the first and last rounds for Henderson and the middle three for Rampage, so the decision worked for me. I wouldn’t say it was the all-time-classic that some folk elsewhere on the internet would proclaim it, but it definitely was a great fight with a lot of interesting back-and-forth swings.

It being over, we left and headed back to the Travelodge, and (after a wander around) ended up drinking bottles of Becks (all draught was off) in the hotel bar due to the complete absence of anything else in the vicinity. Morning turned and we headed back over to Marylebone for a couple in one of the swankiest Wetherspoons I’ve ever seen (albeit also one of the most expensive Wetherspoons I’ve ever seen, although maybe not by London standards. Their Wild West Sharer was great. The overpowering smell of ginger in the toilets [and I’m not making that up] wasn’t) before getting the train home.

So, yeah. A mixed trip, blighted by Travelodge and some bad results, but still quite fun on the whole.

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5 Responses

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  1. throughsilver said, on 11 September, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    The rugby world cup was a sport involving fighting last weekend. Not normally a union fan, I was compelled to watch pretty much all of it. My list of the best sport things on the weekend just gone; descending order of quality:

    01. UFC 75. I know, I’m so predictable. But goddamnit, I was pon de seat edge for so much of it that it couldn’t not win.
    02. Rugger world cup. Particularly Argentina-France (upset! Substitutes that look like Bruiser Brody!) and South Africa-Samoa (more punches thrown than at the O2).
    03. Artistic gymnastics. That’s right, I like artistic gymnastics.
    04. US Open tennis. Kind of a cheat, as I haven’t watched all of the final yet. But it’s grand slam tennis, so automatically rules. Slight penalty for Federer being utterly untroubled when awake.
    05. Australian rugby league. Bulldogs-Cowboys was an excelllent match even if it was my first viewing of the sport and therefore I didn’t know who ruled, who sucked nor for whom to root. All I do know is: the ‘Rabbitohs’ is the worst team name ever.
    06. Athletics. New 100m world record? This low because I missed it.
    07. NFL season started again. This low because I haen’t watched any. On the list because my beloved Steelers won.
    08. Football. On the list because Leeds have reached the heady heights of zero points (from a start of -15; only team in the country that has won all its games). This low because England won, depriving the event of comedy value.

  2. throughsilver said, on 11 September, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Also: typo checks on ‘millenium’ and ‘wonder around’. Sorry, but I’m semi-obsessive like that (and I know you’ll be satisfied when the piece has been edited to gleaming chrome perfection).

  3. Russ L said, on 13 September, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    ‘Wonder’ edited. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing wrong with ‘millenium’, though.

    I quite like ‘Rabbitohs’ as a name. It does sound very, very Australian. “That’s Amazing.”

  4. throughsilver said, on 13 September, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    Add an ‘n’.

    And it’s quite something to listen to the Australian commentary: they’re the ‘Rabi-dows’.

  5. Russ L said, on 13 September, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    Sounds like something you’d find in the aforementioned Tottenham.

    (P.S. – ta. Woods, trees, and such. Edited now).


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