Sunday, 6 November 2011

Destinations

There's always a comedown.

You can't live your life at full tilt the whole time because you'll never appreciate anything.

UFC 100 was the first time I realised I wanted to write. I'll never forget looking down from the stands at the Mandalay Bay at the press box.

In an arena full of anonymity and partial darkness the press benches stood out as a haven of bright lights and motion.

The simultaneous booting of a hundred laptops and the intimacy of that whole notion made me realise a lot of things that night. It's the closest thing to a calling I think I've ever had.

This week was UFC press week and, on Thursday, myself and David Lethaby went down for the pre fight press conference and media day. I interviewed Chris Leben, Mark Munoz and Jake Ellenberger and got to meet some like minded folks who I'vemostly conversed with via Facebook.

Saturday was fight night and as, I was driven down, Dave and I chatted about the evening's bouts. It was then that it all hit me at once. This was it. This was that moment. The press benches that had seemed a million miles from me at the Mandalay Bay were now just a few junctions away.

The second I walked into that place the hairs on my arm stood on end. I checked my seats, sat down on the benches and plugged my laptop in. The wifi, as it happens, was garbage but I really didn't care.

The second that the fights started the whole experience because came more real than I could ever have expected and, as I predicted, the fights were nothing short of incredible.

Before the main card, however, I was standing up chatting to Dave and the lights went out.



For those few seconds I felt rooted to the spot as the arena erupted into noise and colour. The familiar tones of Baba O'Reilly kicked in and everything seemed to slow down for a second. That's as close to tears as I've ever been at any mixed martial arts show and as I looked up at the screen and all I could think of was how lucky I was to be standing where I was as the video rushed to a huge crescendo.

The main card was one of the better cards I've ever watched live as every fight seemed to bring something different and ignite the crowd in a million different ways and, as I ate some free cookies in the post fight presser, I recollected on what had truly been a monumental week.

I'm no Mr Miyagi here but this blog is probably the single biggest set of instructions that I've ever written.

When I started putting this together I knew what I wanted out of it and, even though it's nowhere close to being over yet, there's no doubt that I'll never forget the opportunities that people have given me and how much it all meant.

For every article I wrote that nobody read, for every fight I covered that nobody saw and for every fighter I interviewed that no one heard about. The juice was worth the squeeze.