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Report from Sacramento

Marvin Destin of MMACalifornia.net has a good report from the ground at Sacramento:

Arco is good news and bad news. Its sight lines are good and it is relatively compact which also works out to good and bad news. Good because you are fairly close from anywhere on the lower level and even the first few rows of the upper deck. Bad because its an older arena with a wooden floor in the stands and old plastic seats. Sometimes in the course of the evening the crowd was rocking the place literally as the floor seemed to imitate an earthquake underway. But, because its so compact, it inhibits what could otherwise be a higher end production. It's sort of the Boston Garden of MMA which perhaps a Bostonian like Kenny Florian can appreciate. Put it this way, the show here isn't PRIDE and wasn't even STRIKEFORCE in terms of production flair. Its more like an old time no frills gladiator environment. Maybe that's what Dana White and the UFC wants.

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By the time the first prelim started right on time there was assembled the largest crowd I've ever seen in numerous events to watch the first fight with the arena about 80% filled and people all the way up into the last rows of the arena which is very rare. But that's great for the fighters. And the crowd was enthusiastic if seemingly not very knowledgeable. I say that because they got excited at literally anything. Missed kicks, ooooh. Missed take downs, oooh. Ten seconds of lack of action and one or two fans would immediately boo. It was interesting if strange. And throughout the night any picture of Tito Ortiz back stage warming up immediately incited the crowd into a universal and loud boo. Not to be outdone, the one time they showed Josh Koscheck the crowd really got on a loud boo.

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Having said that I must say it was a letdown that having just attended the STRIKEFORCE ELITE colorful production three weeks prior to see the UFC so retro in this respect. While PRIDE has elaborate lifts and cherry pickers and amazing animated giant screens and the fighters enter to glorious fanfare and lazers and lights down an elevator stairway to a catwalk to approach the stage; and STRIKEFORCE has a giant stage at one end that was reminiscent of an Aztec pyramid on which the fighters are brought up through the floor to giant flames and all the other spectacular lights lazers and smokey clouds with colossal TV screens behind where they arise, the UFC is very much a throwback to the old Mexican bull ring entrance of the matador. Had STRIKEFORCE had the same entrance protocol as this UFC event we wouldn't have been able to see Phil Baroni's ridiculous red superhero cape as he boogied down the long elevated catwalk all the way from the pyramid to the cage.

The Fighters in the UFC would come out of the large portal to the dressing rooms unseen behind the crowd around it, then just as they reached the lower level seats they took a hard left, went about 50 feet and then turned back right into a shoot that led to the cage. The crowd seated around the shoot would stand and high five the fighters but it was difficult to see the fighters themselves. A guy with a gyroscope camera preceded the fighters as they wended their way through all this mass of humanity to the Octagon. No flames. No lights. No lazers just a fighter somewhere down there in the chute. After the first five or so fights a few of the fighters actually entered all the way at the other end of the arena with no warning and not even a spot so they seemed to appear out of nowhere because there was only one entrance to the Cage.

No substitute for being on the ground.