It's great to see more of the old-guard print media jumping on board with mixed martial arts, but with that comes some regional bias and naivitee. The Philadelphia Inquirer's John Gonzalez did a comprehensive notebook about UFC 101 but made some shaky assumptions. My favorite came while he was pumping up what a great fight town Philadelphia is, he takes a shot at Las Vegas and the rest of the cities that have hosted events in the past:
The Wachovia Center was packed last night. Approximately 17,500 MMA fans filled the joint from the floor to the upper reaches of the arena. Generally, the crowds at UFC events tend to be a little sparse during the preliminary bouts. At least in Vegas, some of the fans like to get good and lubed up first, and it tends to take a little time before they trickle in. It didn't go that way at the Wachovia Center. The place was brimming from the first punch.
We know Philly is a great sports and fight town, and it's natural for local writers to stroke their town a bit but let's talk facts when critiquing crowds. I haven't been to a Vegas event or out of town event where less than 80-percent of the building was filled by the second fight. The Philly crowd showing up early is no different than any other venue. Believe me, I've been at 30-plus Las Vegas MMA cards, people pay big money and always show up early to get their money's worth. I know it's not the biggest deal but UFC fans are great, passionate and dedicated everywhere. Philly fans are no better or worse.
This next one is a little ridiculous and teeming with Northeast arrogance:
Last night, the UFC put Philly back on the mega-fight map, holding its first-ever event here. Philly, in turn, did for the UFC and its athletes what it did for boxing for so many years - bestowed legitimacy and importance on the event.
Nice. Thank god, the folks who booed Santa Claus, booed Darren Daulton with his infant child in his hands, cheered what looked like a paralyzed Michael Irvin and still shred the "worst five-tool player in the game" Bobby Abreu, brought legitimacy to this little fighting event they call UFC.
Gonzo was also befuddled by the comments of Yahoo! Sports' Dave Meltzer when he spoke about the make-up of the crowd:
In the media room before the action got started, an MMA writer for Yahoo Sports named Dave Meltzer was giving a rather loud interview over the phone. "It's a very Philly crowd," he said derisively. "It's a different crowd than Vegas. It's a very pro wrestling crowd." I'm not sure what that means, but it didn't sound complimentary
First of all, if anyone is in a place to speak on what wrestling crowds look like compared to MMA crowds, it's probably the guy who's covered wrestling for 20-plus years. Secondly, Gonzo isn't sure what that means? I noticed the same thing at the weigh-in. The crowds in many cities simply appear to have more money and are a fitter group. Many people in the MMA crowd seem to fit into its "culture". Lots of hot women and jacked up dudes all with hundreds of dollars to spend. The Philly crowd had more mullets, beer-bellies and women wearing huge t-shirts over tights. Does that bring more clarity?
Check out the rest of his notebook, overall he did a great job.