I’ve seen live MMA events before. I attended UFC 90 in Chicago for the Anderson Silva and Patrick Cote title fight that ended prematurely because of injury. I also went to a live IFL event in Chicago at the Sears Centre. Both events were great experiences, however I wasn’t very close to the action at either event. Unfortunately, even with all the availability of XFO events and many others in the suburbs, I never really have had the chance to go to a regionally promoted event.
This weekend, I got my first taste of a “local” mma event. Here in the stateline area of Wisconsin and Illinois there is an event called “Beloit Cage Fights”. I attended their event mostly because I thought some guys from the gym I’m currently training at (much more about that to come) had some fighters on the card, but they actually were supposed to fight on the card during the day. One of the fighters did get his match and it was actually a pankration match. I’m not sure if he’ll ever read this, but congratulations to Tony on a good win by rear naked choke!
A friend of mine contacted me and asked if I wanted to go with him. We met up and waited for the action to begin. I have to say I was actually impressed with how they ran everything. The night transitioned well between fights, I didn’t see any bad officiating, and the judges were pretty spot on. There were some exciting fights and the last fight, a heavyweight title match for this local promotion, ended with the crowd in an uproar as the new champion had a ton of support behind him.
Instead of grabbing a seat, my friend and I stood in the back near the bar. We literally were maybe ten rows back at this point, and that was as far back as you could get. The view was great, and standing actually allowed for a great angle as the cage is raised about three feet off the ground. They really did pack the place as pretty much every seat was taken and many people were standing. Again, I was really impressed and it was interesting to see fights at this bar’s banquet hall as it is owned by a friend’s parents and I frequent there when I’m in town.
There were only a few things that really stuck out to me, either being funny or controversial. One of the funniest things I saw was a security guard standing around drinking a beer. Luckily, this crowd wasn’t the stereotypical local mma crowd or that could have been a recipe for disaster. There weren’t any brawls in the seats, and while the crowd definitely was loud at times, it really didn’t bother me as some crowds do at UFC events. There was no booing, even with a ton of ground affairs throughout the card. There was some cheering when someone would get a good sweep which I thought was awesome. There was nothing but good sportsmanship with all of the competitors.
The only semi-controversy happened when a fighter in the ring apparently had some type of lesion or open wound on his calf and back. The crowd was visibly upset when it seemed as though they weren’t going to allow the fight to happen. I understood both the crowd’s disdain and the promotion’s apprehension to allow it. Instead of cancelling the bout, they ended up taking the blue corner identifier tape and wrapping the guy’s calf and back. I don’t know how I feel about that. I’m pretty game and maybe wouldn’t mind it, but fighters have to be careful and their safety should always come first. Staph is a nasty beast that I’ve never had the displeasure of having, and I don’t wish to change that any time soon.
Overall, my first experience with a local mma show was a good one. They are holding another event there in August. My friend suggested that I make my MMA debut at that show. I’m not sure if I’ll be back in the country at that time, but I told him we’ll see how my timeline holds up with my travels. If it works out, it may not be a bad idea.