UFC at the ACC

December 12, 2011

Fight Night, UFC 140 Round-up Style:

1. Featherweight bout: Canada Mark Hominick vs. South Korea Chan Sung Jung [Jung defeated Hominick via KO (punches) at 0:07 of round 1].

Mark Hominick is best remembered for his performance at UFC 129 in April of 2011, the first ever UFC night in Toronto. People remember him for the heart he showed, and that enormous welt on his head that the other guy gave him. Unfortunately, this fight is best described by Canadian Mark Hominick’s words after the fight, “I’m sorry.” Chan Sung Jung, known as “The Korean Zombie,” knocked Hominick out in seven seconds. That ties the record for the fastest fight in UFC history. In an effort to pay respects to Canadian customs, “The Korean Zombie” also apologized.

2. Welterweight bout: Canada Claude Patrick vs. United States Brian Ebersole [Ebersole defeated Patrick via split decision (29–28, 28–29, 29–28)].

Ebersole employed heavy doses of “dirty boxing.” This is easily the least exciting tactic I’ve seen. Hey, I’m just going to lean up against you and sneak in punches here and there, but mainly I’m not going to let you do anything. Usually fighters use it to get something, but Ebersole was just cool with the leaning and the minimal action. This bout was littered with failure, making it difficult to judge. Ebersole repeatedly failed to take down Patrick. Patrick’s countless attempts at choking Ebersole were to no avail. The Canadian Claude Patrick lost the split decision.

3. Light Heavyweight bout: United States Tito Ortiz vs. Brazil Antônio Rogério Nogueira [Nogueira defeated Ortiz via TKO (strikes to the body) at 3:15 of round 1].

A dude sitting near us was unnecessarily loud when cheering for Tito Ortiz. Everyone at the bar had to listen to him explain to his girlfriend why Ortiz is so fantastic. Apparently, it was Ortiz’ upper body. Antônio Rogério Nogueira has a twin brother whose fight would follow. Nogueira knocked Ortiz down and stayed on top of him for a good minute, where he pounded on the ribs (upper body) of Ortiz. Likely after a few broken ribs, the ref stopped the fight. Dude was much quieter after that.

4. Heavyweight bout: United States Frank Mir vs. Brazil Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira [Mir defeated Nogueira via submission (kimura) at 3:38 of round 1].

The other twin, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, fought Frank Mir next. It is startling how similar his name is to his twin brother’s. It is safe to say that their parents probably dressed them the same for a prolonged period of time. This fight was spectacular. Nogueira had control of the fight, knocking Mir off balance and taking him to the ground. Mir took the punches and manoeuvred out of several different holds, to somehow emerge from all the grappling with Nogueira’s arm in a compromising position. Mir proceeded to snap Nogueira’s arm, ending the fight. The UFC broadcast couldn’t help but show the arm break, over and over again. People stopped looking at the monitors that circled the bar.

5. Light Heavyweight Championship bout: United States Jon Jones (c) vs. Brazil Lyoto Machida [Jones defeated Machida via technical submission (guillotine choke) at 4:26 of round 2].

Jones enjoyed a 10-½ inch reach advantage over Machida. Everything Machida did was described as “karate-like.” Machida had been studying Karate since he was 3. Machida’s quickness allowed him to get close to Jones, land blows, and still duck any counterpunches. Jones kept his composure. In the second round, Jones forced Machida to the ground and pinned him down long enough to land an elbow in Machida’s forehead. The gash on Machida’s head was so big that they paused the fight to let the doctor’s examine the injury.

When the fight resumed, Jones knocked Machida down while simultaneously taking a blow himself. That was the difference in the fight. When Jones landed his punches, it would hurt Machida. But Machida wasn’t hurting Jones. With Machida still wobbly, Jones punched and kicked Machida to the wall of the cage. Jones sneaked into a chokehold and it took the ref a long time to realize Machida was no longer resisting. The ref told Jones to let go and Machida’s body parts fell on top of each other with gravity holding them together.

–When he’s not watching grown men fight, Umar Saeed covers the endless battle between money and people on his website: www.umarsaeed.ca/

Ain’t no Saints in Toronto

May 13, 2011

Toronto must be a nearly perfect city.  Nearly perfect, except for its lack of an NFL team to call its own.  Otherwise, why would a Toronto city councilor, and brother to the mayor, be sounding off about bringing in a franchise?  Surely if there were issues related to crime, or the economy, or social services, they would take precedence over a second professional football team.  Wouldn’t they?

Unfortunately for the mayor’s brother, and the mayor’s brother’s brother, Toronto is not getting an NFL team.  Not unless the Bills count, and in a certain sense Toronto already has them, and has since the previous mayor signed a 5 year deal.  That’s as far as it goes though.  This year, next year, and every year for the foreseeable future (go ahead and read that as ‘ten years minimum’).  Some people argue otherwise, but they are simply ignorant, as shown below.

The mayor’s brother’s plan involves either a new stadium built without public money, along with (get this) a monorail.  Don’t worry though, he has a backup plan, which involves simply dynamiting another few hundred feet out of the bottom of the Skydome (which he keeps calling the ‘Rogers Centre’) to add over ten thousand seats.  The number he mentions would make the stadium smaller than most current league stadiums.  Again, he does not offer city funds, just hilarious suggestions.

The coup de grace for this round of nonsense is the suggestion that the Jaguars and Saints might be moved, while neither is for sale.  Sometimes teams are not for sale but in fact they actually may be for sale, if you know what I mean.  The Saints and Jaguars are just not for sale.  Ford has already apologized to a newspaper in Louisiana for even daring to suggest that such a move was possible.

There are a lot of other barriers to an NFL team being owned and operated outside of the U.S.A.  In Toronto, no known buyer exists.  The internet peanut gallery’s favorite suggestion is media giant Rogers, but as a corporation Rogers is not eligible, according to league rules, to own a team.  The other main barriers, aside from no team, no stadium and no owner, are differences in the tax code and advertising considerations, which are referred to here and here.  Of course the show stopper is that Toronto’s little audition with the NFL has gone poorly.

In conclusion, Toronto is perfect now, except for its lack of an NFL team, which it can never have.  Also, the Leafs.  Oh, and–

Fight Night: Toronto’s Debut

May 1, 2011

We managed to get tickets from scalpers* right before the main card. We ran up the ramp all the way to the nosebleeds, getting closer to the heat created by 55,000 people yelling at the top of their lungs. Immediate reactions to Toronto’s first ever UFC fight night:

Steve: This is crazy.

Ryan: Woah.

Me: I haven’t seen the Sky Dome like this since Wrestlemania 6, when the Ultimate Warrior beat Hulk Hogan for the heavyweight title.

The highlight of the night was when all six Jumbotrons took a closeup shot of Canadian Mark Hominick’s face and the crowd saw a giant baseball sized welt emerge from his head in high definition. We first reacted in disgust, then hearing how disgusted we all were, we laughed together. We did that each time they showed the bump. The cameraman zoomed in closer and continued to press our buttons.

As the fight continued, Jose Aldo continued to punch the baseball trapped inside Hominick’s forehead and Steve yelled out, “If that thing pops, it’s going to hit us all the way up here.” This gave the meatheads in the 500 section of the Sky Dome a good chuckle.

Despite the crowd’s insensitivity, we were electric when we had to be. In the fifth round of this Featherweight championship title fight, Hominick mounted the champ and began to punch him in the face. Both fighters were gassed but the crowd willed the Canadian to rise from his wounds. The electricity channeled itself into the arms of Hominick as he found the strength in his punished and beaten body to pound his opponent for the remainder of the fight. He wouldn’t allow Aldo to get up until the final bell. Despite losing the fight in a decision, Hominick fought hard for us.

The feature fight had Montreal’s George St. Pierre defend his Welterweight title against Jake Shields. This column has previously featured other champions such as Jon Jones and Anderson Silva. GSP ranks among them as a dominant force in his weight class. He rarely loses a round, let alone a fight. But there’s something distinctly Canadian about him as a fighter that separates him from other champions – he’s boring.

GSP is technically and strategically superb. He doesn’t take risks and he always wins. But his conservative style leaves his fans antsy. We want him to end the fight, rather than time to lapse and judges to make decisions. We want something definitive.

The crowd entertained itself with a few different chants while he fought. There was the one that you hear at Jays games, when there’s two strikes on a hitter, the crowd starts a slow clap that speeds up before it evaporates. Another sign of their boredom was the Olay-Olay chant usually heard at hockey games (but originally a soccer thing). Of course, being in the meathead section of Dome, a fight broke out during the GSP bout behind us. Everyone in our section was torn between watching GSP and the scuffle. Steve yelled behind us, “Can you guys just hold off for two more rounds please?”

Boring or not, GSP is our champion. Ryan noted how apologetic he is after he beats his opponent. Truly Canadian. Occasionally, he’s even sorry about his fights being boring. Once the final bell rang and GSP was declared the winner by decision, we walked out with the herd of meatheads and Steve said, “You know, even when he wins, it feels like a loss.”

*A note on scalping:

Steve and I had been tracking ticket prices since they had gone on sale. Given that they had sold out almost immediately, we presumed that scalpers had hoarded the tickets. Soon, these tickets would go on sale online in a secondary market.

Sure enough, places like Stubhub had thousands of UFC tickets for exorbitant prices. After some in-depth analysis which consisted of us basically justifying not buying those tickets at those prices, we concluded that on the night of the fight we would go with money in our pockets and find a way to get in. Again, we were right, there was a ton of tickets available for sale on the street corner.

However, while Steve and I have plenty of scalping experience, we had never scalped a ticket to a main event like this before. This was the equivalent of game 7 in the playoffs, a “must-see,” if you will. We were dealing with a sophisticated street organization.

If you had a ticket to scalp, they were on you. It was imperative that they controlled the supply, and from what we could see, they used intimidation to lowball you an offer. Scalping is their job, and the streets were their store, and chances were you being a good Canadian boy didn’t care to spend all your time making your money back.

By controlling the supply, despite having a surplus of tickets, they could control the prices. We didn’t bother negotiating. In fact, when we purchased the tickets it became obvious that one man was in control of the entire operation. Our scalper took us to him. He had papers to organize all the money and tickets floating around.

If someone controls the supply that means there is no possibility of negotiation. In fact, if you try the walk-away technique and then come back, basically telling them you were bluffing, then they can raise the price on you. They knew people came from all over Ontario and the States to watch this – and you were going to get a ticket from them, one way or another. I wanted to talk to the guy who appeared to be spearheading the entire operation but these weren’t the right circumstances.

Do you have any insights on this? Experiences? Thoughts? I’m truly interested. This secondary market is not a free market of buyers and sellers. How can they control such enormous blocks of tickets when the demand is so high? What’s the missing link? My goal is to determine how we can free this market, so we can go back to paying normal prices for events we want to go to.

–When he’s not watching grown men fight, Umar Saeed covers the endless battle between money and people on his website: www.umarsaeed.ca/