My dirty little secret of covering MMA is that I have never been to a UFC event before, but I am lucky enough to attend UFC 96. This weekend, I will give you updates on what it's like to go through the UFC experience for the first time.
To make sure I could report to you the full UFC experience, I headed out to some UFC parties on Friday night, and as my camera decided not to work, my only proof is my two bar wristbands, at right. Two things to remember as you're reading this post:
1. I generally am a shot and a beer kind of gal. I go to clubs ... pretty much never.
2. Before I was a writer, I was a fan, and therefore, I still get a little starstruck.
The other thing to remember is that my friend from Ohio who was supposed to go to the parties with me bailed, so I was a gal out on the town by myself, which was not at all awkward. My first stop was at the Cage Potato/Fight Magazine party at Sugar Bar. The fine folks at Cage Potato put me on the VIP list, so I was lucky enough to slip in without waiting in line.
Sugar Bar was all about subtlety. Flashing lights, scantily clad woman, bottle service and the word "SEX" written above the dance floor in large, glowing letters. The place was fairly empty when I arrived, but filled up quickly within minutes. The men were exactly what I expected, muscle-y, beat-up faces, ugly Affliction t-shirts. Some of the women met my stereotype of fake boobs and bleached blond hair, but there were plenty of women who looked as if they hadn't been under the knife.
The first UFC fighter that I ran into was one of my original favorites, Forrest Griffin. I'd like to say that I played it cool, walked up to Forrest, introduced myself and had a scintillating conversation with him, but no. I stopped in my tracks, stared for a few seconds, giggled and walked on by. After that, I saw Junie Browning, looking relatively normal and sober, Efrain Escudero and Joe Stevenson, all chilling out and having a good time. Jay Glazer from Fox Sports was there, too, but surprisingly, he was not in the VIP area.
Next, I headed over to the American Fighter/MMA Junkie party at Club Mynt. Thanks to the good people from MMA Junkie, I headed to the VIP area, which was packed, and nearly walked into the Muscle Shark, Sean Sherk. Not long after that, I saw Rich Franklin who was more than happy to pose for a picture and speak with every fan who walked up to him. Near the back of the VIP area were alcoves with tables, and standing on the bench in that area were Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta. For the most part, the two kept to their table and friends -- more scantily clad women -- but as they left, White took pictures and talked with every fan who stopped him. Again, it's easy to understand why the man is in charge.
One thing to note is that at both parties, the fighters mostly stayed in the VIP areas. That's understandable, because if they ventured into the main area of the bar, they would have been mobbed. But if in the future, you go to a party because your favorite fighter is supposed to be there, temper your expectations. You probably won't be shaking your groove thing with GSP, or buying shots for Rampage.