My First Live UFC Experience


The Octagon in is NOLA

I only began to watch UFC a few months ago. I was never that big into the sport of MMA, but one day at a friend’s house, we were watching the weigh-in’s and he started talking about it and I decided to watch that weekend’s UFC Fight Night and give it a try. Well, needless to say I enjoyed it, especially since that was the weekend of the Conor McGregor-Dennis Siver fight.
McGregor is one of the most popular and polarizing fighters in UFC today and the buzz around him was enough to keep me interested. I also enjoyed the other fights, so I decided to try and follow UFC more. I watched the Rousey-Zingano PPV, the Pettis-dos Angos PPV, and many of the Fight Night shows in between. So, when we realized that the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans was going to be the host of a UFC Fight Night, we were all in. And even though Daniel Cormier, one of the show’s original main-event fighters, was pulled to fight earlier, we made the hour ride to NOLA and it was well worth it.

Good start to a good night

Good start to a good night

We got to the venue at about 7:00 and had only missed the two early prelims. We got in our seats and got ready for the ten remaining fights. The first four were prelims, but at least three of them were memorable. First, we saw Justin Edwards look like he would win a decision until he passed out with one second left in the fight and Joe Proctor won by submission. Edwards was trying hold on, but his body went limp and Proctor stole the win.

That was followed by a three round decision win for Chris Wade over Christos Giagos. Then, we decided to take a smoke break for the Brian Ebersole-Omari Akhmedov fight. While we were outside, we saw that Akhmedov won after the first round when Ebersole couldn’t continue after a knee injury. Then, Ebersole retired. Just like that, he finished his career. But with all the years he has fought, I can’t blame the guy.

The last match on the preliminary card was between Shawn Jordan, a former LSU football player, and Derrick Lewis, a New Orleans native. The two heavyweights slugged it out for the first round and most of the second until Jordan connected on a solid kick to the face and knocked Lewis down. He pounded Lewis on the ground until the referee called the match. It was a good start to the night after just the prelims. I knew we were still in for six more good fights, but I never would have expected what happened.

Me, My Wife, & Friends enjoy a night of UFC at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA

Me, my wife, & friends enjoy a night of UFC at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA

The main card started with two Bantamweight fights. In the first, Francisco Rivera knocked out Alex Caceres in 0:21. In the second fight, Anthony Birchak ko’d Joe Soto in 1:37. The first two fights were done in no time, but were exciting as hell as these guys didn’t hold anything back. But surely the rest of the night couldn’t be like this! Right?

The next fight was between Brian Ortega and Thiago Tavares in the Featherweight Division. The match was pretty even after two rounds, but was in jeopardy of being stopped before the last round because of a huge gash on Tavares. But, they let the fight continue and it almost went the distance before Ortega won by  TKO at the 4:10 mark of round three.

I was just starting to think we were going to see more fights like that, but I was wrong. Dustin Poirier, a Lafayette, LA native, was up next and defeated Yancy Medeiros by TKO at 2:38 in the first round. Another quick, but exciting fight. That was followed by a Heavyweight fight between Ben Rothwell and Matt Mitrione that lasted just 1:54 after Rothwell locked on a choke hold in the first round. And followed that up by delivering the best promo ever. I swear the man could easily have a career in WWE once his UFC days are done because that promo was better than most of them in WWE today. But now, we are already to the main event.

The last fight was between Middleweight’s Dan Henderson, the 44 year-old veteran of the octagon, and the 13th-ranked Tim Boetsch. The crowd in New Orleans was going crazy for the long-time great Henderson and he didn’t disappoint. Following the trend of the night, he knocked out Boetsch after 0:28 in the first round. It was seemingly the only way to close out this thrilling night.

While I would typically get upset at such short fights, I had no complaints on this night. I was happier to see so much action than just seeing the fighters being cautious. It was a thrilling night that I won’t forget.

Speaking for all of us, we had a hell of a time at the event. Even our wives enjoyed it which I didn’t see coming! We left there talking about it the rest of the night as we enjoyed some cold brews at a couple local bars. And when the night finally ended sometime around 4:00 am, I knew that the next time the UFC was coming to town, I would no doubt be in attendance again. I just have one request to the UFC. Don’t wait four years to come back to The Big Easy like the last time! The people of New Orleans showed up last night and proved that we want the UFC back sooner rather than later.

Daryl Karpinski Jr.