A Fanboys Impression of UFC 87 in Minneapolis

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I just got back from UFC 87 in Minneapolis and I have to say that this card was fantastic. The crowd was electric and I love the live UFC experience. By now, you have all seen GSP’s destruction of Fitch, Lesnar’s domination of Herring, and Florian’s climb back up the lightweight ladder, so there is no need to rehash the PPV for you. Instead, I am going to pass on my thoughts from my second row balcony seat at the Target Center.

Georges St. Pierre Dominating Jon Fitch in his title defence at UFC 87

Georges St. Pierre Dominating Jon Fitch in his title defence at UFC 87

GSP Pound for Pound #1
Some people pick Anderson Silva and others pick Fedor, but over the last couple of years, no one has beaten as many top-ranked fighters as has St. Pierre. Sure he lost to an unranked Serra (who I met at UFC 87), but remember that Silva lost to a lowly Chonan by an unbelievable flying heel hook 5 years ago. GSP’s decimation of Jon Fitch, the consensus #2 Welterweight in the world, was the most one-sided five round match since Loiseau lost to Franklin.

Attendance
The UFC put out a press release stating that they broke the Target Center’s gate record but I doubt that they return to Minneapolis very soon. The arena was not sold out, tickets were available on Ticketmaster the day before the event, and a scalper offered me floor seats for $100 each. The NHL Minnesota Wild have sold out 18,500 seats for 300+ consecutive games, the fourth worst team in the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves, averaged almost 16,000 fans last season (1,000 more than UFC 87) in the same arena UFC 87 was held, so the UFC had to expect more from Minny.

In fact, I unscientifically estimate that ¼ to ½ of the fans were fellow Canadians who drove down to see GSP fight. The entire row in front of me was from Regina, the couple beside my wife and I were from Estevan, the group beside us were from Winnipeg, and our Canadian border guard said hundreds of cars passed through his station alone coming from UFC 87. If GSP did not headline the card, this arena may have been half full. I am surprised that the home town boys, Brock and Huerta, could not sell out this building.

On a Rampage
During the pre-fight press conference, Dana White was defending Rampage Jackson’s recent troubles with the law and suggested that woman who miscarried a week after Jackson hit her car was in the wrong for suing Jackson. Dana needs some PR courses as he really should distance himself from the former light-heavyweight champ. At the fights, Jackson was an attention whore – constantly ripping off layers of T-shirts he was wearing (it seemed like 5 different ones) and getting up mid-fight to talk to different sections. I do not know if Dana told him to get back into the spotlight and act as if nothing is wrong, but from my second row balcony seat it sure seemed like what Rampage needs is a psychologist’s couch.

Rock Out with your Brock Out
How would you feel after getting knocked down so ferociously that you do a backwards somersault and then see a 280 lb hulk with beef jerkey sponsored shorts flying through the air at you? That would be scarier than any of the coaster rides at the Mall of America. If I were Heath Herring, I would have crapped my underwear.

Why the complaints about Lesnar failing to finish? He made hamburger meat of Herring’s face. The complaints should be directed towards Herring whose game plan seemed to be, “If I get knocked down, turtle.” Brock did his homework and realized that Herring is great at escaping from the bottom, so he did not put his back hooks in. Herring should have gone to Plan B. Too bad he did not seem to have one.

Loudest Pops
1. GSP
2. Forrest Griffin (on the big screen during the fantastic UFC-produced Teenage Wasteland fight montage that is shown prior to every UFC)
3. Brock Lesnar
4. Roger Huerta
5. Cheick Kongo

Quick Hits
• My fight of the night was MacDonald vs. Maia. While many in the crowd booed the ground action, I feel that this was the best grappling battle that I have seen in 2008. Maia looks great and I would love to see him face Henderson or Kampmann next.

• USA, USA !!! Why was this being chanted by some of the crowd during the aforementioned MacDonald (Canada) / Maia (Brazil) scrap?

• Good to see Manny Gamburyan lose. During his last win against Jeff Cox, Manny went to touch his opponent’s glove like a good sportsman only to take them down at the last second to land a kick. Manny got a good helping of karma at UFC 87 as he left his chin out and Emerson tagged him hard to knock him out in 12 seconds.

• I had never heard of Jon Jones, but I do now. This athletic light-heavyweight was supposed to be just a wrestler. His striking was a little unpolished but was really exciting in his win over Andre Gusmao, who was undefeated in the IFL prior to this loss. Jones landed spinning back fists and kicks and many other strikes in a performance that made Gusmao look like he was fighting for the first time.

• I thought Florian/Huerta had fight of the year potential. Ken “I finish fights” Florian, had the strategy to get in, inflict damage, get out, and win on points, while Huerta, of famed strategist Greg Jackson’s camp, was not aggressive and seemed to throw about 8 superman punches that all missed. Rarely do these highly anticipated matches live up to expectations. I only recall Alvarez/Kawajiri and Torres/Maeda living up to the pre-fight hype in recent months.

P.S. If you like what you read, leave me a comment. If you don’t like what you read, leave me a comment.

11 Responses to “ A Fanboys Impression of UFC 87 in Minneapolis ”

  1. john says:

    Sounds like a rowdy Canadian Section. Almost like you were at a hockey game!

    Good story.

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  2. Keith Grienke says:

    Thanks John. I would compare it more to the Labour Day Classic at Rider stadium (CFL). The row in front of us were chanting Riders quite a bit. They were on the first row of the balcony and my wife and I were a little concerned that one of the really hammered Regina fans was going to fall over the railing he kept leaning against.

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  3. Jason says:

    Thanks Keith, I enjoyed the “quick hits” part of your entry. I agree that MacDonald/Maia was fight of the night. I have never fully been a fan of MacDonald even though he is Canadian. I was impressed by Maia and glad he won (considering I picked him to win.)

    If I ever go to a UFC event (God willing,) I am going to yell GO JETS GO!

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  4. Lisa says:

    Fine summary of the evening but you forgot to mention how expensive the beer was!

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  5. Marc-Andre says:

    Don’t avoid the question. How much were the beers? And more importantly, how many did you go through?

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  6. Only 3 beers as I don’t want to go to the washroom too much when I am paying $250 a ticket. Beers were $7 domestic and $8 for my Guiness.

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  7. Sounds like me at UFC 83. I stopped drinking fluids at 3 in the afternoon so I wouldn’t miss a second of the action!

    Amazing how many people miss fights waiting in beer or bathroom lines.

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  8. Don says:

    Good write up of the night !

    I agree with MacDonald & Maia being the fight of the night – what an awesome display of the ground game. I admit I have never been a big fan of MacDonalds but I think that is due to wanting Doerksen to come out on top each time they met. I also always want to cheer for the local guys so I should give MacDonald more credit. I admit I was really impressed with MacDonalds ground game and have a new respect for him now.

    Hey Keith, if you want to drink more beer and not miss any of the action you could always put on Depends… just make sure you’re not sitting next to me !!

    Don

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  9. Bernie says:

    If I knew there was so many extra tickets I might have considered going up..How many people were booing Brock Lesner… Can’t stand the guy

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  10. I did not hear anyone boo Lesnar. He just did not get as many cheers as GSP did. Still was pretty loud for Lesnar especially when he came out to Motlely Crue’s Shout at the Devil.

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