When UFC 83 came to town, it was really the first time that Ryan and I became involved first hand with the full world of Mixed Martial arts. While Ryan got to taste what it’s like to be in the press area to blog about the fight live, I got a different experience altogether. It mostly involved hanging out with fighters and getting more shit faced than Lidsay Lohan on a Monday night (because let’s be realistic: if we pulled a weekend Lohan, we’d be dead / in jail / dead in jail).
The particular person that allowed me to have this access was glam-rock singer/MMA fighter Robin Black. I met Robin randomly on fight night while hanging out at a sports bar yelling at Kalib Starnes’ cowardly performance on TV. After watching the rest of the show he invited us along with him to the big UFC afterparty, promising to sneak us past the door Nazis. After that we drunkenly promised to meet up again soon, and he invited me to come see him in Gatineau for his first professional fight. Like every conversation where both parties have a beers in each hand, and 20 drinks down the hatch, I had assumed that the last we’d hear from Mr Black for a while.
To my surprise, Robin emailed me two weeks ago inviting us to Toronto for the launch of a new Extreme Couture gym. Randy’s been a busy boy, popping up franchises faster than Starbucks, leaving bevies of bastard MMA children around. Robin was in charge of getting the press (which we apparently are considered now) to come. Hywel Teague over at Fighters Only Magazine had asked us a while back to do a profile on Mr. Black, so we thought that despite MMA history unfolding on CBS that weekend, we would make the trip up to Toronto to get some more first hand coverage.
Any time Ryan and I travel, something invariably goes wrong. Because we’re both broke ass fucks who have no drivers licenses (Ryan’s was literally taken away by the government, but that’s another story), and we’re too poor to fly, our plan consisted of trying to engineer a ride on what I like to call “The Chinese Express”. Bullshit Canadian laws prevent anyone other than the one big expensive and incompetent bus company from transporting people from city to city. Fortunately, Canadian Chinese (also known as Chinadians), consider our legislation to be little more than an inconvenient suggestion, and organize their own affairs as they see fit. In the past, I’ve used the Chinese Express (which involves riding in a van full of other Chinadians and large bundles of newspaper), but unbeknownst to me they had stopped taking in “gwai-lo” after a few dishonorable white devils has ratted them out.
So when we arrived at the rendezvous, we were surprised to find that our ride had left much earlier than anticipated, leaving us behind. This now left us stranded, and forced us to make an emergency travel plan through the very bus transport company that had made intercity traveling such a shitty clusterfuck. A significant amount of our budget later, I booked the tickets and we were on our way.
Bus rides are rough on me. I can never sleep unless I’m close to exhaustion, and I’ve always found that the AC is either inadequate to cover the filthy odors emanating from the fellow passengers, or so cold that my entire body goes into shock. The seats are also only designed for midgets or Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump, since the concept of leg room was a term the fucks running the bus company thought was a fiduciary ruinous concept.
After spending the night at a friend’s house, and after the same friend taxied us over to the gym, we arrived shortly after 9 am. Now neither Ryan nor I are good morning people. I believe the morning is the worst invention ever, and is just another proof that if there is a God, he isn’t all loving. Little did we know that every fucking journalist wakes up with the sunrise to get a good story, so after getting our press passes and saying hi to Robin, we allowed the mainstream media to do what they do best: ask the same questions over and over again, and getting fighters to put them in a choke hold. We looked around for some breakfast, and somehow found a BBQ rib joint open at 9am. Awesome.
When we got back, nothing had really changed; reporters were still getting choked out like bitches, and Randy was doing his best not to look bored out of his mind. We went back to talk to Robin a little, who had his smoking hot girlfriend, one Katherine Curtis, giving out the passes to everyone. Katherine is an anchor for “Naked News”. She’s also a huge comic book fiend, who proceeded to tell me everything that I’ve been missing out on for the past 8 years in the land of Marvel. Both of them were functioning on about 45 minutes sleep, and were cracked out of their skulls.
Despite being dead tired, Robin was working furiously to keep the press in line, and to get everyone flowing through as rapidly as possible. Everyone else involved in the gym was too busy taking photos with Randy to really give a shit about helping out. The highlight of the whole affair was when Randy kissed (or should we say blessed) a couple’s baby, who later wound up on television. Yes, the news is really this shallow.
After getting a few choice pictures of the Natural, and after stalking Robin around for a while, we decided to try and start schmoozing with other press people. Most of the guys there were from local TV stations who had almost zero idea of who we were, and our knowledge of MMA announcers was weak enough that we failed to recognize anyone at all. Showdown Joe (aka Joe Ferraro), who works with Sports Net, came out the blue to talk to us, and said we owed him a new pair of pants after making him laugh so hard he spilled his coffee all over himself. We only really got to figure out who the hell he was later when Robin kindly explained what he did. It was another reminder of just how fucking clueless we are.
After the press rounded up their endless barrage, and after the last dufus got choked out, the press began to disperse, with only the hardcore of us remaining. The evening had so far not been catered, no doubt to encourage the freeloaders to get the fuck out. Two attractive blond chicks walked in with a bucket of energy drinks, and were preparing themselves to shill a product no human in their right mind should drink. A few photographers were making them do a variety of posses, so I decided to play along and showboat them.
Being the natural asshole that I am, I was bugging them constantly. One of them was starting to get pretty pissed off, but being a professional, rather than shove one of those slim energy drink cans up my ass, she only repeatedly called me funny. Ryan noticed that her hands were shaking quite a bit, despite the fact that she hadn’t had any of her own product. To keep things light, we coughed it up to her being nervous rather than suggesting she might have Youth Parkinson’s disease. It seemed like the classy thing to do at the time.
We wanted Robin to come hang out with us a little, but by now his eyes had glazed over in preparation for his head hitting his pillow. Kat and him took off to have filthy sex back at his place, and meanwhile the Fightlinker boys headed over to the nearest pub to drink ourselves retarded. The energy drinks had given me an insanely bad headache, and our cheap Canadian beer did little to ease the pain.
After downing a few aspirin, and a shit load more beer, we headed back to the gym for the after party. Robin was MIA, and sent me a blurry text to the effect that there was no force on earth that could drag him out of bed. The vultures had come out that night after smelling weakness and were all headed for the bar. There were a few shitty appetizers, but everyone seemed primarily focused on the hard liquor. The waitresses had not even had the time to setup a tip jar, so I volunteered a plastic glass and put a little something in there (emphasis on the word little). Like any fight gym opening up, it was heavy on the sausage, and very light on clam. The only girls present looked fucking bored to tears, and had decided on drinking a coffee rather than run the risk of walking out of there with a meathead, or worse, a blogger.
Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow…