A brain-damaged Tom Hanks once said Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what youre gonna get. He was wrong, but only in the sense that boxes of chocolate invariably contain exactly what youd expect (i.e. chocolate)...
A brain-damaged Tom Hanks once said Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what youre gonna get. He was wrong, but only in the sense that boxes of chocolate invariably contain exactly what youd expect (i.e. chocolate). This is why its such a treat to dump all the chocolates out of a box, fill it with stinging insects and cat crap and then leave it unguarded in the lunchroom at the office. Alas, I digress. Our dim-witted friend was right in the sense that life is not predictable - especially when your hobby is whacking people in the face for fat rolls of cash or, in my case, watching it from a safe distance. Then, truly, you never know what youre gonna get.
A fine example of this came a few weeks ago; when out of the blue my phone rang and a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy who knew me asked if Id join the broadcast team for Elite Fighting Supremacy; March 18th at the Vancouver Centre for the Performing Arts. Details were sketchy but one thing was certain: Id get a front row seat to witness some top quality face-whacking and a lot of people would be forced to listen to everything I had to say about it. Okay, maybe thats two things; but really, it was a win/win situation so I graciously accepted the role of play-by-play broadcaster. Curiously, only a few weeks earlier, Id met UFC commentator Mike Goldberg at UFC 58 where, much to his disdain, I asked him Hey; arent you Bruce Buffer? My point: having basked in the presence of greatness I felt confident to take my rightful spot behind the microphone to call the action.
The days leading up to the event were hectic. The only thing I can clearly remember is walking the mean streets of Vancouver with Joe Doerksen; only to end up at a burger joint where a pair of eavesdropping lesbians overheard and ultimately joined our fight-banter-biased conversation, eventually getting the unavoidable double-earful of Why MMA is less dangerous than boxing (which is a column for another day). Other than that, everything is a blurry jumble of meetings, interviews and phone calls.
The day of the event, I was suited-up and in the broadcast booth hours before anyone would reasonably expect me to be. This provided a first-rate chance to see the ring get assembled and then disassembled and then assembled again by a curious abundance of oompa-loompa-esque stagehands, one of whom kept crawling under the ring despite the fact that, each time he went under there, he was only barely able to get out. It looked likely that he would eventually get stuck under there for good and the event would go on without anyone suspecting that a guy wearing a utility belt and knee pads was wedged under the ring like a frightened housecat whos squashed itself under a couch because crazy Aunt Edna is over for a visit and we all remember what happened last time (or at least the cat does). Alas, despite my concerns, the guy was able to get out one final time after nine other guys lifted the ring and then lashed him to a table so he wouldnt go under there again.
After everything was set up, the guys in charge asked if I, along with my broadcast partner Paul The Mauler Lazenby, would get in the ring so they could test the cameras out. I swear this actually happened. So, he and I took turns walking down the ramp and then, after I shed my fine silk shirt and faux-crocodile loafers, we climbed into the ring to engage in mock-combat for the benefit of the camera crew and random spectators; most of whom were fairly alarmed to see me alternating between leaping crescent kicks and pulling half guard.
After a round-and-a-half of this, we returned to the broadcast booth and prepared for the task at hand. Moments later, the curtains rose and, bracing myself for chaos, I set forth with the play by play banter.
The opening fights were surprisingly quick. Dave Scholten from Marcus Soares team had no trouble taking down Corey Rhodes and disposed of him with a pez dispenser-style neck-crank in the first round. Sunny Taylor came all the way from Cesar Gracies gym and earned more than frequent flyer miles; winning his fight against Costa Rojas with a tight arm bar that had the crowd squirming.
Jeff Pizza Sutherland came into the ring looking confident, and showed agility in the opening moments, leaping to guard and nearly to the back of Hardeep Singh. Singh, however, had other plans and took out Pizza in just forty-six seconds with a vicious slam and blazing ground and pound. Darcy Spence from Munduruca Mixed Martial Arts in Winnipeg took on Shane Lightle from Ohio and showed promise in the opening moments but the more experienced Lightle quickly recovered and ended the fight with a triangle choke at 1:37 of the first round.
Curt Muscle Beach McKinnon took the early lead in his fight against Cesar Narita but ate a knuckle sandwich early in the first round and, though he was able to score a takedown, he was unable to regain his senses before the crafty Narita applied a fight-ending triangle choke. His team-mate Jerin Valel garnered a similar fate; finding himself caught in a rear naked choke applied by Furious George Kassimatis in the first round of their fight.
Seeing the first six fights end in the first round, I started thinking that we were in for a short night. Again, fate had other plans and the remaining fights would all last a bit longer. Vancouver home-boy Tyler Jackson looked very impressive and knocked out Californian Bobby Merrill at 2:35 of the second round. Tim Thurston from Revolution Mixed Martial Arts in Langley took on Jaimie Hendry from Wolfes Self Defense in North Vancouver. Hendry had a sizeable reach advantage and looked to use his jab to keep Thurston at a distance. Thurston took his time and, as the fight wore on, began finding his way through the defense of Hendry; eventually scoring a dramatic knock out in the opening moments of the third round.
Garret Davis from Marcus Soares team showed the heart of a champ in his fight with Derek Downey; who used excellent takedown defense to take the lead in round one. Round two would tell a different story, however, and Downey seemed to fade as the fight wore on. Finally, seemingly too tired to continue defending against the tenacious Davis and his persistent takedown attempts, Downey found himself on his back and, moments later, was tapping to a rear naked choke.
Marcos Vinicios gave Paul Derrick a beating that, though entertaining, was not thorough enough to compel either Derrick or the ref to call a halt to the fight. It looked like the Brazilian was on his way to a unanimous decision win - but then Vinicios delivered a knee directly into the beak of a downed Derrick; who was unable to continue due to the illegal technique. Given no other choice; the ref was forced to declare the fight a no-contest. Afterwards, Vinicios looked ready for a night of salsa dancing at the night club while Derrick looked like something youd expect to see stumbling out of a nine-car highway pile-up.
Ben Greer from Marcus Soares team and Ian The Barn Owl Loveland from Team Quest gave the fans a fight that no one will soon forget. Round after round, both fighters exchanged strikes, takedowns and submission attempts and kept up a pace normally reserved for chicken-wing-eating contests. At one point, Greer caught Loveland in a kimura that wouldve had a circus side-show contortionist screaming in pain. Loveland managed to find his way out, however, to which I commented Ive never seen a more flexible barn owl! The crowd seemed to find this amusing. Following four rounds of back-and-forth insanity, Greer was able to secure the back of Loveland and finish the fight with a rear naked choke; winning the Elite Fighting World Lightweight belt.
The final fight of the night matched Marvin the Beastman Eastman against Travis Diesel Wiuff (pronounced Fiuww). From the outset, Wuiff seemed determined to bring the fight to the mat. Eastman looked to strike and counter from the clinch. Knees and stomps were exchanged like business cards at an ass-kicking convention. From where I was sitting, it looked like Eastman was winning the fight.
In the third round, Wuiff abandoned his plan to take the fight to the mat and decided to exchange bombs with the Beastman. Curiously, Wuiff seemed to get the better of these exchanges; forcing Eastman to change strategies himself and seek to grapple.
This is when things took a turn for the crazy. Eastman shot on Wuiff and both fighters went through the ropes like two charging bison through a crowd of schoolchildren, landing with a shuddering impact on the edge of the ramp leading to the ring. To summarize in a single word: Ouch.
For a few moments, it looked like this would be the end of the fight. But then, showing determination, both fighters leapt back into the ring and came at each other again. I would win the understatement of the year award by calling the final round fast-paced. It was a brawl of the highest caliber; with four hundred pounds of fists, knees and punches whirling around and (twice more) out of the ring.
After four rounds of five minutes, the fight came to an end and a decision was rendered. Personally, I had each fighter winning two rounds; with the first two going to Eastman and the second two going to Wuiff. The judges saw it differently however and Eastman was awarded the Elite Fighting World Light-Heavyweight Belt.
After the event, we wrapped up the broadcast portion of the show and retired to the post-fight party; where I joined some of the fighters for drinks and speaking with the kind of girls who think black-eyes are sexy. Doerksen was in fine form as usual. Really; he should consider making the worlds first instructional DVD focusing on fighting and then picking up girls at the bar afterwards.
So, walking back to the hotel, I turned down the advances of the local prostitutes and reflected on the events Id witnessed. From what I hear there are more Elite Fighting events on the horizon; so we could all get another dose of major league west-coast mixed martial arts pretty soon. Regardless; I cant wait for the Elite Fighting: Supremacy DVD to come out. I hear the play-by-play is pretty awesome.