This post includes spoilers for the prelims.
When Strikeforce was rumored to be returning to Hoffman Estates (definitely not Chicago, but I'd really like for a UFC card at the United Center, please) I instantly started preparing my bank account for a hit. I had attended Fedor vs Rogers at the same place two years prior. It was my first MMA event, and it was spectacular. I found myself incredibly lucky to be able to see Fedor fight twice before his career ends. Never thought that would have happened. Making the return trip was a no brainer. I purchased $200 seats, and they had to be some of the best in the building. Warning to people who haven't been to an event yet: buying floor seats sounds like an excellent idea, until you realize that the first couple of rows are reserved and packed with media, famous people, and employees. You won't be cageside like you thought. Seeing any ground game is going to be difficult. That's what I did with my first show. This time, I was slightly elevated, being seven rows up and directly in line with the cage. For reference, the cage is at "half court", and I was seven rows up. Not too shabby. Worth the $200 (the same seats for a UFC event will probably be around $350).
- Quick, imagine the worst drunk sports heckler you can. Now multiply it by 5. The result is the two guys sitting directly to my left. It was awful. They were yelling at attractive girls, making horrible jokes, and yelling instructions at the fighters the whole time. They settled down a bit for the main card, but the prelims were awful. But these were the oddest fans ever. Half hardcore, half retard. Seriously. Example: they thought Urijah Faber would get killed by Cyborg Santos (the female) but knew enough to know that Dan Hardy vs Chris Lytle is an awful 5 round main event while Miller vs Henderson is the co-main. I didn't know what to think.
- Strikeforce's general, untelevised (to my knowledge) opening is pretty good, but not as good as the UFC's Baba O'Reilly montage. But Strikeforce's event-specific opening was better than the UFC's nu-metal opening. They should learn from each other.
- Did the pyro at SF events stop with Zuffa or before that?
- First up on the card was Bryan Humes vs Gabriel Salinas-Jones. Local Illinois fighters? Check. Out of shape Heavyweights? Check. This wasn't going to be pretty. These guys were about as bad as two fighters can be and still be having a fight on one of the biggest MMA promotions. They had the body of Kole Conrad with none of the wrestling acumen. What ensued was 15 minutes of sloppy kickboxing and belly-on-belly "grappling" and "ground and pound". I use those terms loosely. Not a good beginning.
- With as bad as the first fight was, the next was so much better. 7-0 3x Division II All American Derek Brunson was fighting 4-1 nobody Lumumba Sayers. It was a fun fight, with both fighters exchanging wildely on a few occasions. Brunson ended up dominating in wrestling, but also landing two headkicks that floored Lumumba (I never get tired of pronouncing that in my head) and he pounced for the rear naked choke. I'm going to keep my eye on this kid.
- Next was a WMMA fight. This has been a topic of interest lately, so I'll just come out and say it: this fight was garbage. This didn't help sway any Zuffa employees into creating a division. The skill was no good and what resulted was a bunch of clinching and neither fighter knowing what to do. That's all I gotta say.
- Ahh, Tyler Stinson vs Eduardo Pamplona. Stinson won by 15 second KO. He also had what appeared to be Cody McKenzie in his corner. These two facts alone held made a large portion of my night. That was a fun one.
JZ vs Lyle Beerbohm. This was a really close fight. I personally had it 29-28 for JZ, but I could have seen it going either way. Two judges sided with me and one with Lyle, giving JZ the split decision. The fight wasn't anything to write home about, but wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination.
- Beers were $8. Wtf. I don't even think Wrigley's beers are that overpriced. That was nuts.
- Besides that, the big posters were $10, and they actually sold out of $100 signed posters in about a half hour. I was surprised. The program (which I got free at Fedor vs Rogers) was $5. Still not as bad as when I paid $20 for a program at UFC 119. Ugh.
- I try to keep the rest more brief as you have all watched the rest of the fights. Saffiedine whooped on Scott Smith. The end was kinda exciting with Smith trying to land his famous comeback KO. Saffiedine was having none of that. Not a bad fight.
- Daley vs Woodley. I read through the BE live blog. Woodley did not impress. Daley shrugged a bunch of takedowns to start the fight, but eventually succumbed to Woodley's wrestling. Woodley couldn't do anything from top control. When it hit the feet, the fight was really exciting. Woodley traded with Daley more that I expected. Daley was actually caught a couple of times. I felt like Daley might finish it in the third, but Woodley survived. Think he'll fight for the vacant title now? Oh, and Paul Daley attempted an omoplata. Yeah, that happened. Bizarro land.
- Lawler vs Kennedy was awesome. Kennedy wasn't doing so hot on the feet. Then it seemed like he initially got stuffed on ever takedown, but what he did that a ton of fighters don't do is work and work and work and work and keep fighting for the takedown. He eventually got it almost every time. I was really impressed with his scrambling and the way he didn't quit on the TD attempts.
- Crowd was pro Miesha Tate. I wonder why. (note for the slow kids: its because of her nice ass). I won't pretend to be an MMA elitist. Miesha's top control was boring. Then she was getting attacked by Coenen's grappling and most people thought she'd get submitted. The Miesha used her top control to submit Coenen. The crowd loved the finish.
- The only area SF production beats the UFC is the lighting for the Main Event. It was awesome, and helps get you pumped up for the fight. Both Fedor and Henderson's entrances were awesome. Fedor's entrance with the Russian music gets me every time. The crowd was stupid. They traded "Fedor" and "USA" chants. The drunk guy next to me started with a "Fedor" chant and ended chanting "USA". Facepalm. At least the guys to my right and one guy in front of me could hold conversation.
- The fight was four minutes of spectacular. The two traded to start the fight and from my feet it seems like both fighters were hit hard and/or rocked in opening exchange. The finish was nuts. The crowd was anticipating a Fedor finish, the Hendo hit that switch and came outta nowhere. After seeing the GIF of Fedor landing on his arms, out cold, and Hendo's fists waking him up, I maintain that it was a good stoppage. I was questioning it upon first viewing.
- Most of the crowd, myself included, seemed to like both Fedor and Henderson. I think everyone wanted to just see a good fight. And we did. It was spectacular. I am lucky enough to say I've seen both Fedor and Dan Henderson win live. I just got lucky.
- Matt Hughes was in the corner of three different fights. This makes sense because he's from Illinois, where him and his brother used to pound each other behind the barn. Greg Jackson was also in the corner of two fighters.
- One of the awful Heavyweights on the prelims came out to Miley Cyrus's classic "Party in the USA". Quit it. You aren't funny. Someone did it UFC 119 too. And someone came out to a girly song at Fedor vs Rogers. Just come out to your favorite song or something. Besides that, the intro music was pretty good.
- Oh god, I almost forgot. Could you hear anyone yelling during Woodley vs Daley? If you could, it was Tyron Woodley's mom. Gus mentioned it in the cage after the fight. This was as stereotypical as it gets. She was across the cage from me, but everyone could hear her yelling loud and clear, over and over "Get him Tyron! Get on him! Drop them 'bows!". It was hilarious. During the third round, she had actually run up right behind Woodley's corner and was yelling instructions. Quite humorous.
- If I hear Jimmy Lennon Jr.'s voice one more time, I'm going to kill somebody.
- The Strikeforce ring girls are hot, but kinda carbon copies of each other. I couldn't tell the difference between the three blonde girls. Ariel Helwani was spitting his game with one of them for like 20 minutes. Then later she approached him and asked for a picture. Get on that shit, Ariel!
- Mr. Helwani also gave me a picture. He was a nice dude.
- Reading through the live blog, it seems like Mauro and the gang were even more awful than normal. So glad I didn't have to hear that. The perks of live MMA.
Overall, it was a fun night of fights. It far outclassed my previous live event attendance of UFC 119. It was a bit better than Fedor vs Rogers. I still wish I could've seen King Mo vs Roger Gracie, but I won't complain.