The fans in Nashville were thrilled to see the UFC roll into town. It was the first big MMA show held on Tennessee soil. One woman walked around clutching a UFC t-shirt with autographs from some of the stars. Meanwhile, some big guy walked up to Forrest Griffin in the UFC's workout area and sheepishly asked for a photo. But it wasn't some shy dude who wished he could be a bigtime athlete like the former light heavyweight champ, it was actually a multi-milliion dollar earning European superstar.
The U.S. Soccer team was in town for another World Cup qualifier and "the fan" who gingerly approached Griffin was the team's keeper Tim Howard. Howard, 30, plays for Everton F.C. in the Premier League and was the first and only American keeper to ever play for soccer's best known club Manchester United:
"In Europe I get that a lot. People stop me and ask me for autographs so I kind of feel bad when I have to stop and ask an athlete for a picture or just to say hello," Howard told Cage Writer. "But they've been nothing but accomodating and they all seem to be humble and respectful."
The U.S. Soccer team faced Trinidad & Tobago at L.P. Field, the home of the Tennessee Titans, roughly a mile away from the proceedings at the Sommet Center where the fighters were attending Ultimate Fight Night 18. The U.S. won its game 3-0.
Howard is a New Jersey-native who migrated from MLS to Manchester United at the age of 25. He's more than familiar with what some of the UFC fighters have to go through with the media. He suffers from Tourette's. When he first transferred to Manchester United he was mocked by some media outlets for his "disability."