U of MMA at The Avalon in Hollywood,Ca
Who needs football on Sunday’s? Beer, pizza and MMA are all I need.
The U of MMA fulfilled those needs perfectly. As you may have seen on our Twitter, I was at the event in an official capacity (Our first event with press credentials, yay us) as videographer, photographer, figure-head and foremost, a fight fan. I arrived early (as you may or may not know, parking in Hollywood is a b1tch) grabbed my press pass and started my rounds. The Avalon (formerly The Palace) is situated on Vine, across the street from the Capitol Records building (a sort of visual landmark due to its shape and how long it’s been there as the base of operation’s for Capitol Records) the new owners spared no cost in retro fitting the location. It has been the Avalon for a handful of years now, still, I am impressed with the venue each time I go. The decor, architecture, sound system and floor plan make for a great experience. After surveying the layout, I began to take mental notes about where to post up for some good photos and video of the action. I’ve been to a few events in the past, this was the first time I was able to actually touch the cage, it provokes a particular feeling, a guttural, instinctual feeling. Standing cage side made it even more clear why fighters fight and fans watch. The energy of this type of event is primal. It’s the ‘monkey DNA’ Joe Rogan is always talking about. Having arrived an hour early, I had time to meet several U of MMA staff members, chat with the fans who also arrived early and spend a few minutes talking with ‘Big’ John Mcarthy. Big John told me he ref’s 70-80 events per year on average, in fact, he had just flow in from reffing an event in Minnesota. That man works. The fight fans were made up mostly of friends and family of the fighters competing in the event. Many of the fans were sporting their respective gyms clothing, I spotted 5 or 6 gyms from the area and a few from other states. A good turnout however you look at it.
The Cage was centered on the dance floor with a press ‘balcony’ (the raised dance floor behind the cage) folding chairs situated around the cage at about a 5-7 foot distance, followed by the booths, and the actual balcony/upstairs seating. To be clear, there is not a bad seat in the house. With 3 big screens showing the action, the direct placement of the cage, no fan was left without a good view of the action. In other words, the ‘cheap’ seats are almost as good as the ‘VIP” seats. I say almost, as the ‘VIP’ seats allow you to interact with the ring girls. A definite plus in my book, well worth the extra cash. (see pictures below for proof) I gotta say I was in more of a ‘fan’ mode than ‘Editor in Chief’ mode.
If you havn’t been to a regional or local MMA event, you are doing yourself a disservice. First, this is where the Chuck Liddell’s, Randy Couture’s, and Ovince St Preux’s got there start. Where Bellator picks up most of their lighter weight fighters, so on and so forth. I can”t speak for all events, I’ve been to a few that were, what you might call disorganized. Not so with the U of MMA event, it was organized, with slick production and a great atmosphere. I can’t begin to tell you how nice it was to be at an event that ran so smoothly, haveing done comedy for so long, and worked with Bands I’m used to clusterF23K’s when it comes to most events. The time and organization needed to put on an event this size and have it come off so smoothly is truly remarkable. It makes me realize how difficult the UFC/StrikeForce, Bellator, Dream, K-1 etc. etc. have it. This ‘local’ show was a who’s who of MMA. BIg John was there reffing, Krzysztof Soszynski made an appearance (Kryzsztof is coming off knee surgery, he’s been in 2 movies during his off time. He was in a movie with and played the stunt double for Mickey Rouke, plus he’s in the upcoming Here Comes The Boom from Kevin James, he’s looking at getting back in the Octagon in a few months) Eddie Bravo from 10th Planet Juiu Jitsu (if you are not familiar with Eddie, google him, he is hilarious and a master BJJ teacher/fighter) along with the previously mentioned Joker Guymon.
At about 4:15 or so, the fights started. Surprising for any event of this size to begin 15 minutes after the stated start time. I’m so used to events starting 1-2 hours after the stated start time. The last MMA event I attended started a full 3 hours after the stated start time (which consequently led the many thirsty fans in attendance to get sloshed and put on more exciting fights in the stands than was planned for the cage). The ring entrances were brief, consisting of the fighter being announced, including his record, fighting style and gym. A short walk from the green room to the cage where Big John checked each fighter for mouthguard, cup followed by a quick recap of the rules and the cornermen applying vaseline. Team Quest and Legends/10th Planet Jiu Jitsu fighters dominated the card, having the most fighters in attendance. The action was crisp and fast. The rounds were the standard 3 x 2 minute rounds found in most amateur bouts. On TV, 5 minute rounds look easy, in person, 2 minute rounds look exhausting, completely exhausting. Try shadow boxing for 2 minutes straight, now try having your friend chase you around your backyard while you shadow box for 2 minutes. You will probably puke up a lung. Most of the fighters were prepared for a full 3 rounds, remember this is where fighters hone their craft, learn the ropes and build confidence/experience. Not every fighter is gonna be at the top of his game just yet. Surprisingly only a few fighters were a little unprepared in my opinion.
There were a handful of ‘oh damn’ moments. A highlight reel worthy KO, an amazing gogoplota submission (courtesy of a Legends/10th Planet Jiu Jitsu fighter no less, look for it in the highlight reel above) several gasp inducing slams and some big bombs landed to keep the excitement going throughout the entire card. Along with the men, there were 2 Women’s bouts to round out the evening. Both bouts were solid. I’m still on the fence with Women’s MMA, I enjoy it, sometimes. As it grows, I will most likely become a bigger fan. In Sunday nights instance, I was a full fledged fan, shouting for the finish and cheering wildly as the action heated up. I must say, an interesting part of the women’s bouts was a female fighters dancing antics while they waited for the judges scorecards. She actually did the ‘booty clap’ for the audience for a good 3 minutes. Quite entertaining. Sadly, I was so amazed, I failed to get video footage (in hindsight, probably a good thing for the fighter in question I missed the opportunity).
Standing cageside, taking photos/video was a new expierence. Aside from being that close to the action, I was also next to the respective corners. I got to hear each corner shouting instructions to thier respective fighter, see them interact with said fighter between rounds and discusss strategy amonsgt themselves. This may not sound all that exciting, trust me it was, it was also hilarious! In the heat of the battle, some cornermen shout out some peculiar instructions. Below are a few example overheard during the various fights.
“Get his back, that’s right, put you d1ck in his back, yeah like that.”
“Okay, it’s rape time, yeah, that’s right, rape time, rape time. Get him, get out of his guard, I said it’s rape time!”
“It sucks getting hit in the face huh? So stop letting him do it then.”
“It’s Tekken time baby, FINISH HIM!”
There were more, but this is a family friendly site. I found myself yelling some strange things too, it got me some weird looks from press row. Apparently the press isn’t supposed to get excited for the fights? Good thing we aren’t journalists, cause I was cheering, yelling and at one point screaming for a finish. We’ve never said we were anything more than ‘educated fans’ here at MMA Rants Today, not journalists, just ‘educated fans’ with a passion for MMA. It definitely showed Sunday night at the U of MMA.
I must thank Turi from UofMMA.com for setting me up with a press pass, Michele from Tri-Coasta clothing for letting me sit in the front row, when I wasn’t running around getting photos and video, for introducing me to several great people. Two of those people were Joker Guymon and Nick from Cauliflower Fight Gear. I must apologize, I did not get all of the fighters names, in the course of introductions, networking, eating and drinking, I missed a few bouts throughout the evening. Since this was my first bout as a representative of MMA Rants Today, I was a bit overwhelmed. Seeing as how my Editor was unavailable as was our Site Photographer, I was left to handle video/photography along with meeting and greeting all on my own. I expect the next event we will be fully prepared. U of MMA is a great promotion with a solid roster of up and coming fighters, if you are able to catch the show, you definitely should, it’s worth it. A great family environment to experience MMA. I’m looking forward to their next event. Until then, check out the photos and Video highlight of the fights.