Last night, the viewing audience was treated to UFC on Fox 4: Shogun vs. Vera, on free TV. Not me, though. A week ago, my friend Mike and I thought, “why watch something for free on television when you can see the same thing for a lot more money in the Staples Center?” So we each decided to pay $84 for seats that were probably 800 feet away from the Octagon, just so we could say, “hey, I’ve been to a UFC show.”
And you know what? It was worth it.
UFC on Fox 4: Shogun vs. Vera, despite its unwieldy title, was an amazing show. (I don’t have to tell you that – you saw it!) I can’t remember the last time I saw a single show with that many good, back and forth fights. Besides Gamburyan vs. Omigawa and Miller vs. Phan, which were good tilts in their own right, you had the sloppy fun of Swick vs. Johnson, the grueling see-saw battle of Rua vs. Vera, and the Fight of the Year candidate of Lauzon vs. Varner. And you also had some great, artistic finishes too – Moraga using his elbows to convince Gomez to take a nap, Yahya nonchalantly choking the life out of Grispi, Swick plunging his fist into Johnson’s brain, and Machida frustrating Bader to the point where Bader concluded, “OK, I haven’t hit him when I’m trying real hard to hit him. Maybe I’ll hit him by closing my eyes and running as fast as I can in his general direction. You know, reverse psychology this shit.” There was also, of course, the finish of Omigawa’s UFC career, but I digress. The point is, it was a fantastic viewing experience. But what didn’t you see on TV? That’s what I’m here to tell you.
First, there was a carnival-like atmosphere surrounding the Staples Center. In addition to all the people there to see the UFC event, there were also UFC merchandisers, a UFC tour-truck (don’t ask me, I don’t know), and a completely unrelated youth basketball event.
Second, although I’ve lived in Los Angeles for four years now, I haven’t really gone to any clubs, so I don’t really see the beautiful people. This show, contrary to what I would have expected, was brimming with gorgeous women making terrible, wonderfully revealing fashion choices (and of course, an even larger share of bros just bro-ing out about bro stuff). If you’ve got game, well, maybe think about going to a UFC show in Los Angeles.
Third, there were celebrities – well, celebrities to me, anyway – out and about. First, there were the Fox and Fuel broadcasting teams: Randy Couture and Brian Stann (and some journalist, who cares) for Fox, and Rashad Evans and my hero, the undefeated Chael Sonnen (and Jon Glaser, yawn) for Fuel. Second, when Mike and I went to get food between fights, Mike ended up at a bar next to Ian McCall (whom Mike put at around 5’4”), and I ended up in line in front of David Mamet! Apparently, he likes Wetzel’s Pretzel’s.
(Side-notes: Chael seemed to get along quite well with Rashad and Glaser, as well as the staff, glad-handing everyone, and taking lots of pictures with kids. Meanwhile, on the Fox side, a mob of adoring fans were reaching up to Randy Couture, begging for his autograph, which he duly gave them. Chael and Rashad don’t tuck in their shirts. They also drank non-diet Cokes with their lunches. Stann drank water. Couture either had his lunch beforehand or doesn’t need food and drink to continue his immortal existence. Finally, Chael and Rashad seemed to be glued to their smart phones when they weren’t on camera or talking to each other, sometimes even when fights were happening.)
Fourth, the famous montage of fights set to Baba O’Reilly really is worth seeing. It’s not worth paying $84 a person for, but it gets you incredibly hyped. It also shows you just high highly Dana and Co. think of the Bonnar/Griffin fight. Watch it, and you’ll see what I mean.
Fifth, it’s really hard to tell what is going on in the Octagon unless you’re much closer to it than Mike and I were. We didn’t have terrible seats, but the massive monitors floating above the cage and all around the arena draw your eyes from the distant fighters until, after a while, you’re just looking at the screens and not the octagon at all. The thought crosses your mind, “did I really pay $84 just to watch a free fight on a really big TV?”
Sixth, there is one big, compensating advantage of seeing the fights live in the arena: the energy of the crowd, and the fact that you’re really there, at a UFC show. When you’re around 16,000 people who are as caught up in the fights as you are, who go absolutely bonkers when they show Ronda Rousey, who bring the house down when Joe Lauzon raises his arms up, and who all turn, seemingly simultaneously, from Shogun fans into Vera fans, well – that’s something you can’t get on your living room couch, unless you have some really good ecstasy or are part of an awesome cult.
So, overall, would I recommend going to a UFC show? Yes, definitely, at least once. You might get a magical night of fights. But unless you have lots of disposable income, or unless you get seats so close to the Octagon that you can hear DaMarques Johnson getting his concussion, I think once is enough. But it’s really worth that one time!
Today’s article was written by Rob Gressis
Rob is an assistant professor of philosophy at California State University, Northridge. His passions are his cats, watching fights, and watching his cats fight, but not in that order. He is also member of Fantasy MMA World – a UFC fantasy league where each season’s winner gets 2 tickets to the UFC plus hotel and airfare. The new season starts July 1st. Check out http://fantasymmaworld.com to enter, or contact @FFFightLeague on twitter for more information. You should probably join; it’s an awesome league.