Hi to all of you, the best MMA fans in the world!
I've been a fan of MMA for years, since around UFC 5 but missed a lot in the middle years there due to a very busy work schedule. Several years ago I got back into it in a big way. Last night I attended DARE, an MMA event held in Bangkok.
With all the hoopla around Bones vs Rampage, DARE has slipped largely under the radar. It's a small promotion based in Thailand (I assume) - where I live. Last night they put on a 7 fight card with some Thai fighters and some foreign fighters including several Brazilians, a Swede, a Malaysian/Australian, a Korean, a South African and a Pole. Of course none of them were world famous, but they were great to watch. I think some of them have either fought or will be fighting for One FC. Gyms such as Evolve Singapore, Phuket Top Team, Tiger Muay Thai, and Legacy were represented.
I was there with a friend in the "VIP" section, 10 feet from the cage (B2000 tickets; normal tickets were about B1200) standing right in front of the VVIP section (a guy who I believe is the promotion's owner, Khun Rocky I think is his name, was sitting there, I got to speak briefly with him). We had a perfect view of the action, slightly behind and to the right of one of the camera mounts.
But let's go back to the beginning. Things started a little wonky due to Bangkok traffic. The cage arrived late, and so instead of the expected door opening time of 3pm for an event start of 4pm, we actually got inside around 4.45pm. The schedule didn't drag on too late, however, because the fights started soon after, and with only very small gaps between them. The place, Insomnia Nightclub, Sukhumvit, was quite packed, which means around 700 people by my estimate. As a venue for this event, I thought it was excellent - very intimate, everyone in the place would have had an excellent view of the cage, and if the place had been bigger and the crowd more sparse, the vibe wouldn't have been as awesome. The sound system was good, but the music and voice-over was perhaps slightly too loud.
The first couple of fights were over fairly quickly, by submission. The third was a come-from behind win, an exciting match which also ended by submission in the 2nd. Another submission (sensing a pattern here?) in the 4th fight, between two tiny flyweights. The 5th was a 3 round decision in which the fighters really put on a show - one guy was clearly winning throughout, but the other showed a lot of heart to stay in it 'til the final bell. The promoters announced both would get win bonuses. The 6th fight was probably the true headline act, with the most experienced fighters on the bill. BJJ fighter Ximbica from Evolve Singapore took out "the GOAT" from South Africa by a slick armbar. In the final match, "Shogun" (not the Brazilian one) came from behind to submit Kim, the Korean. My friend was cornering Shogun, so we were ecstatic. By the way, there were 2 ring girls, of which one was stunning - she'd give Arianny a run for her money. The weight classes ranged from Flyweight to Middleweight.
Afterwards, several of the fighters hung around and chatted with anyone who wanted to chat and take pics. I spoke to a couple of the Brazilian guys from Evolve, Ximbica and Silva, who both won their fights.
All up, 6 submissions and a decision. I think sub defense has a way to go here in Thailand, but I'm sure the local fighters are aware of that and are training for it. Look out for some good MMA guys to come out of this scene in the next 5-10 years.
The organisers are pretty friendly, and the officials are too. I spoke to the MC/Organiser guy John, two of the referees, who I thought did a great job, the owner Rocky.
Great job by the promoters, the fighters, and everyone involved. I'm hoping for great things from this team. With any luck a serious MMA scene will blow up here in Bangkok, which you would think should be a fighting capital, what with Muay Thai originating in Thailand, the cosmopolitan nature of the city and its capacity for hosting events, a number of MMA/Muay Thai gyms around the country, and all the ancillary benefits for tourists coming here (shopping, great food, etc).
[Business strategy consultant focusing on the sports and entertainment industry]