I feel like a lucky guy these days. Although I’m a bit of a late bloomer in this whole MMA thing, I’ve come in at a pretty fucking exciting time. Not only is the sport becoming more mainstream; local smaller promotions are starting to put on shows that can often rival the bigger players in quality and production value. XMMA, a promotion based in Montreal, had a show this past weekend attended by your favorite crusty bloggers, and we weren’t disappointed.
Friday morning was not an easy wake up call. I had spent the previous night partying (for reasons a gentlemen will not discuss), and Ryan and I had to get up early to try and figure out our plans for the weigh-ins. We took down a few notes, and some general ideas for shit to shoot if we had the chance, but considering how tired and hung over I was, we headed out with our camera equipment and not much else.
The actual weigh-in was in the back of a bar, which was fortunate for my splitting headache. Two more beers and I was feeling no pain. Ryan noticed that Joe “Daddy” Stevenson was there, and in my haze, I had no idea who he was. I just said “wow, that’s cool”, trying to dig deeper in my broken brain for a face to match the name. The only fighter I could picture was Dan Severn. Yeah, I was that fucked up.
Joe and the fighter he was cornering, Aaron Riley, sat next to us, and we started chatting it up with them. Aaron seemed to be in a good mood, despite the fact that they were extremely behind schedule, and the lack of food/water in his system was no doubt making him fantasize about eating drywall. Quebec being the mecca of socialism, lazy boxing commissioners were sleepily doing the very minimum to help things move along.
Everyone was about ready to lose their minds, but then they brought out the ring girls for some photo ops, and the only thing you could hear from the crowd was the rustling of pants and everyone shifted their boners to the left. If nothing else, I had to give XMMA props for not cheaping out on just any old Montreal stripper. These were escort level beauties, complete with great boob jobs and 200 dollar haircuts with very little semen in it.
Before the action started, we were trying our best to befriend Joe and Aaron, and we managed to convince them to do an interview the next day before the fights. When shit finally got underway, we had already traded plenty of stories, cards, and insults.
Our favorite Glam rocker Robin Black was there, doing the introductions of the fighters. I was taking photos of all of them, but truth be told, more than half of them were first timers, and none of them knew how to pose worth a fuck. Some of them were too busy looking down at the floor, in supposed disbelief that they made weight rather than work the cameras. It reminded me of high school gym class where all the fat kids would be staring down at the ground to prepare for the embarrassment of being picked last.
After waiting forever for them to finish, the head commissioner started reading out all the rules of the fight (which, it seems from the several illegal strikes during the actual event, some people did not listen to). One of the projectors that was showing XMMA highlights caught fire, and I was shitting my pants worrying that the sprinkler system would go off and soak us all.
After all that was done, we sat down with Robin who was there to break his announcer cherry with The Fight Network. Him, John Ramdeen, and Chris Horodecki had come down from Toronto to cover the event live. Robin was excited and visibly nervous, and we teased him mercilessly that he was going to be the Goldberg of the group. In tow was Nicky Ryann, who also has a show on The Fight Network called “Rough”, which should have inspired me to do some tasteless joke, but my head was elsewhere. Chris was a bit wary of us, but John warmed up to us as soon as he saw our human cockfighting shirts. We loosely arranged to meet up later, but considering our piece of shit budget, it was pretty doubtful, unless they had planned on hanging out at the homeless shelter or bus stop.
After another night of personal debauchery, we woke up on the late side of the day. Having only a few hours to prepare for Aaron’s interview, we scrambled to find highlight videos on the web. After finding some choice shit, we headed off to the hotel to track him and Joe Daddy down. The lobby itself was bustling with a troop of hard core Evangelicals, which was throwing me way off my fucking game. We had expected to see more fighters in the restaurant and bar, but the religious nutjobs had scared them away.
We decided to go to a bar close by to get a little liquid courage. Since this was our interview cherry being popped, we wanted to make sure it was more “16 Candles” and less “Gang Bang Bitches part 5″. My confidence was running pretty high, and I was hitting enough on the waitress that she asked me to promise that I would come back and visit her. I lied and said I would.
Now a little tipsy, we went up to the 4th floor looking for Aaron. We ran into Joe, who luckily enough recognized us, and said he’d be back shortly to also get interviewed too. When we knocked on his room door, we tried our best to pretend we were the RCMP (that’s our police), but clever Aaron didn’t fall for it. The room was a mess from the food and clothes lying around, and it smelled like a gym in there.
We had brought presents for everyone. On the Friday, Joe was going on about how shafted he felt when Loiseau had chilled out with his for a few weeks and gave him a crappy copy of some Rocco porn, so we had burned him some. We gave Aaron a human cockfighting shirt, and with spirits running high, it was interview time.
I won’t go too much into details about interview, since we’ll be posting it up soon anyways. What was hilarious was the fact that the whole time, Joe was acting like a jackass trying to throw Aaron off his game. He was even about to moon us before I had to tell him to cut it out. Just as we were getting to our last question, Joe had to stop us cold since they needed to head out to get their ride organized to the event. I slowly cursed the heavens for not giving enough time to get Joe on film, and it was made even more tragic by the fact that their ride ended up being 30 minutes late. Shitballs.
We took the subway over to the arena, which was still in the midst of preparations. There were no greeters for the press, so instead we tried in vain to find our passes. For a while, no one cared that we were wandering around without credentials, but after a couple stink eyes, Ryan left to go track down someone that could help us. I hung around with the Fight Network guys, just in case they needed any French translation. Everyone they interviewed spoke almost perfect English, so I generally felt fucking useless the whole time.
After wondering aimlessly, stealing the occasional ‘free’ energy drink, everyone was beginning to take their seats, and we managed to switch ours around to get a much better view. We were behind the horn guy, who turned out to be incompetent, sounding it off before the ref gave his approval and making everyone confused in the process. We were calling him names, but he kept his cool (or maybe he couldn’t hear shit from years of blowing a horn next to his ears).
The problem with some of these smaller shows is that it’s difficult for them to find two opponents that have similar skill levels. Often, it’ll be a blowout, with one fighter being leagues above the competition. Most of the fights of the weekend were over in the first few minutes of the first round. Although it was entertaining, there’s a part of me that would have felt a little miffed had I paid to see a war, rather than a slaughter.
Since we had already interviewed Aaron Riley and liked him, we were rooting for him pretty hard. It also helped that everyone else was picking on the other local fighter, since I always love a good upset. The fight itself was great; although Aaron had the upper hand in every round, his opponent (Steve Claveau) was dangerous even after he had lost a gallon of blood. Everyone in the audience recognized it as fight of the night, so with Riley’s victory (via decision), we felt like fucking champions having backed the right horse for once.
The Crow’s fight was a bit different. After the first round, David just kept eating punches from Solomon Hucherson the whole time. Ryan was convinced it was some kind of possum strategy, but by the end of the 3rd round, things didn’t look too good for Loiseau. But halfway through the 5th round, the Crow suddenly awakened and threw kneed after subsequent knee into Solomon’s face. When the ref stopped the fight, the arena (and myself, I must admit) was ablaze with cheer. I suppose after the other home town favorite had lost to an American, such insult could not have been tolerated for long.
Two fans of Fightlinker actually came down for the show, and we had promised we’d hang out after. The only problem was that they were kicking everyone out of he arena, despite the fact that there were ample amounts of beer cans lying around in ice cold buckets. Ryan, the consummate thief that he is, made the rounds and collected as many as he could, and we convinced the staff that we were part of the Fight Network in order to stick around and keep drinking. Ryan headed back to the parking lot to grab the Jackals, and managed to sneak them in so they could partake in the fun.
After the show was over, we headed back with Olivier and Dave for a ride downtown (I think his name was Dave. Truth be told, I was fucking drunk at the time of our noisy introductions. Hope he’s not too mad reading this). We headed to a McDonald’s, thinking we would eat and head over to the club that John, Chris, and Robin were going to. Unfortunately, we ended up going to the slowest fucking burger joint in the world, and it took so long to get our food that by the end, we decided against going to the club.
Since we had made them drive us around, we figured it would be rude to send these Jackals away. They instead crashed at Fightlinker HQ. After watching some old K-1 highlights, it was off to bed (all separate ones, I swear). In the morning, we took pictures of them, and we gave them both a free t-shirt as a thank you for giving us a ride home. We parted ways, and I headed back to bed, content that the wild weekend of fun was over.
The whole thing is still a little surreal to me. It’s one of those things that will begin to be more common as time goes on, and we attend more events. Still, I hope that it never gets to the point where it feels like work. And if that happens, I’ll just start doing coke or something. Yeah, I’m sure that’ll be fine.