Popping into the world of UFC

By Dan Steinberg
Wednesday, January 13, 2010

UFC came to Patriot Center Monday night. The event drew a sellout crowd of 8,500, plus me. Five observations.

1) The place was packed, and the crowd seemed enthusiastic, judging by the one guy behind me who yelled "KNEES, KNEES" all night and the enthusiastic whistles at the ring girls.

"They're thirsty for it," said Rashad Evans, a UFC star who was watching from the crowd. "I was like, man, I'm probably going to spread out over a couple rows. Who's gonna come here on a Monday? But surprise, surprise."

I suggested to play-by-play guy Joe Rogan that the demographic seemed to be 30ish white dudes.

"But that's the people that come to the live events," he said. "I think there's a lot of people that are apprehensive about coming to it live, people who might be closet MMA fans, enjoy it at home, but . . . "

By this point, some 30ish white dudes were screaming at Rogan for a photo.

"I'm doing an interview [bleep bleeper]," he yelled back. "Shut the [bleep] up."

2) This friendly chap named Evan Dunham defeated Efrain Escudero with a third-round arm bar. Dunham said he knew he had it won by the vibrations he could feel in Escudero's arm; "when I was cranking on it, it went POP, POP, POP," he explained. "When I felt it start giving a little bit, I knew I had something there."

I later followed up with Dunham, and he seemed almost apologetic about the pop, pop, popping.

"It's a brutal game," he said. "You don't want to hurt anyone. I don't think I broke his arm. I hope I didn't break his arm."

Still, I asked what it's like when you start feeling that pop, pop, popping.

"You're like, 'YEAH!' Dunham said. "You know it's working."

3) Because I'm single-minded, I asked Evans about the Gilbert Arenas situation, and whether fighters carry weapons.

"For what?" Evans said. "If I carry a weapon, I'm gonna get in trouble, it's that simple."

I told Evans about Gilbert's poop-in-the-shoe joke.

"That's not a joke," Evans said. "I'd beat [Arenas's butt]. You're gonna [poop] in my shoes? That's disrespectful on so many levels. You don't do that. Because if you do that, you [poop] in his shoes right now, what's he going to do tomorrow? You have to set the example."

Then I told Evans about how Gilbert once arranged to steal Nick Young's car.

"That's not a joke, man," Evans said. "His jokes are way too hard, man. Where'd he learn how to joke around?'

4) I always imagined UFC fights as these gurgling cauldrons of testosterone and celebrity. Monday night in Fairfax, though, might not be the primest of celebrity hours. I asked UFC for a list of any celebrities in attendance. They told me LaVar Arrington was there.

5) Back to that pop, pop, popping arm bar for one more second. MMA legend Randy Couture was in the building, and I wanted to ask him about the Rice Krispies sensation.

"Obviously, physiologically, we know what's going on there, because we know how to apply the submission," Couture said. "You have to understand the physiology in order to submit a guy. Is Evan a mean guy and just wants to go rip arms off? No. But it's up to the guy that's been caught, it's like checkmate. It's up to him to tap. . . . Your elbow will pop, and they say it'll pop three times before it'll really do any damage."

"I've been on both ends of it," Couture later said, so I asked what it's like to get your ligament pop, pop, popped.

"It hurts," he said.

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