the scenes at the IFC
Dustin Fielding 12 September 2003
occasion, I have the good fortune to pick up some work with the International
Fighting Championships. Paul Smith, part owner and commissioner of the IFC works
endlessly to promote the sport.
he needs a little extra help and grabs various members from the mma community
to help out.
When he asked me if I would
like to help him out with his 8 man light heavyweight tournament in Denver, I
jumped at the chance. This was to be the tournament of the year. The names alone
made this tournament huge. The final card had Babalu , Jeremy Horn, Shogun Rua
, and Trevor Prangley. No way was I going to miss this show.
weigh ins on Friday were filled with past and present mma stars. Chuck Lidell
was on hand as was Pat Smith Jens Pulver, UFC champ Tim Sylvia and Benji Radach.
weigh ins were held on the second floor of the Sheraton in a huge conference room
that was filled with a buzz for the tournament. With the weigh ins fast approaching,
you could feel a nervous excitement in the air as the fighters milled about waiting
for the Colorado State Athletic commission to begin.
weigh ins began in reverse order of the show, and a ripped Ron
took to the scales. The gathered press clicked wildly as he weighed in. Scary
Jerry , his opponent, took to the scales, and while he was not as cut looking
as Waterman, he still looked imposing.
weigh ins proceeded without incident and were followed by a rules meeting. Head
IFC ref , Josh Rosenthal, took to the stage and quickly read out the rules and
regulations of both the IFC and the minor variations of the state athletic commission.
The state of Colorado stressed that no kicks to the head were to be thrown to
either a downed fighter's head , or from a downed fighter towards the head. Little
complaint was made to the ruling and the meeting wrapped up.
the hallways ,UFC champ Tim Sylvia was seen taking pictures with eager fans and
his heavyweight belt. Seeing him in person was impressive and he was super cordial
to everyone he spoke with.
legend, Pat Smith, was on hand and spoke with mma broadcast personality Ryan Bennet.
Pat spoke with Bennet about his impending return to mma, even going so far as
saying that he would gladly fight Bobb Sapp.
the Pepsi Center. Home to the Nuggets basketball team as well as the Avalanche
hockey team. This venue was huge and extremely well set up. There was plenty of
room for the fighters warming up as well as private dressing rooms for the teams.
was on hand to shoot part of the event for an upcoming episode of its dvd magazine.
If you haven't gotten a chance to see a copy of this monthly dvd, you should,
it is off the chain. John Pack and his crew arrived with their new motor home
as well as the up and coming mma commentator, Big Poppa Schnake (shnokee).
the show started, you could feel the excitement. The fights were under way and
the show was rocking. Standouts of the night included Forrest Griffin who I had
never had the chance to see before. This Georgia resident came out of nowhere,
submitted his first opponent, and then went on to give Jeremy Horn a hand full
in their second eliminator fight. However, Horn got the knockout of the evening
with a lightning fast kick and rapid fire punch combo that sent a bewildered Griffin
to the floor.
Another surprise of the
night was Tom Sauer. This Florida powerhouse put on a show in his first two fight,
qualifying him as an alternate. This guy could fight. He is in his thirties, but
fought like he was 21. This guy was unbelievable, and probably one of the nicest
guys in the business. In his last fight, he sustained a large cut under his right
eye. The ringside doctor looked at it as he was gushing blood and said " You should
let me stitch that up for you." Without missing a beat he replied "I usually just
stitch it myself." A roll of the eyes from his corner men confirmed Sauer's never
say die attitude.
Perhaps one of the
most technical and amazing fights happened between Shogun Rua and Erik Wanderlai
from Gracie Barra. These guys did it all. They kicked, they punched, they went
for legs, they punished each others legs and they went through pretty much every
transition imaginable. As I looked briefly around the crowd around me, you could
tell even some of the people less educated on mma techniques and tactics were
blown away with this fight.
the most intense and dramatic fight was the tournament final between Babalu and
Jeremy Horn. These guys went through a war together. Horn illegally kicked Babalu
as he was down and was reprimanded, but no point was taken away. However, after
a brief break, Babalu was motivated even more, and began to unleash a fury that
shocked the 5,000 plus crowd. In the end , with his right eye horrifically swollen
shut, Babalu went on to win the tournament . In an emotional speech, he thanked
his brother who had just passed away two months prior. As he draped the Brazilian
flag over his shoulders, his corner started chanting his name in sing song cadence
,"Babalu, Babalu,oh, Babalu....".
a night to remember. On the negative side, mma veteran and warrior Doug " the
demon" Evans was forced out of his fight by Brad Gumm when Gumm landed a huge
knee square into his nether regions. The knee was so severe that Evans was escorted
to the hospital and treated.
thanks goes out to Outkast fightgear, who supplied the fighters with complimentary
shirts and vitamin supplements. Sprawl which helps out every IFC event, donated
some stickers and shirts as well. Its always a true sign of commitment when a
company just starting out goes out of its way to help out the fighters.