(Note: SbB Senior Writer Tuffy couldn’t find a taker for his kidneys (though they are lovely ones, at that; quite pert), so he pulled up to UFC’s beach blanket beatdown at Mandalay Bay Beach for the simulcast for this report.)
Admittedly, it was a tough sell for some people. One person stopped us on the way in to ask if we, too, had spent $50 mistakenly expecting to walk into the arena of the most-touted event in UFC history and somehow found ourselves on a beach like we were Leo DiCaprio. Others (clearly comped) mocked those around them for dropping a wad of cash on a TV show when they could have “gone to a bar”.
For those people, we could only nod solemnly as we would for those who feel they’ve outsmarted the system by cruising the same three-block stretch for an hour to find a parking spot with a half-filled coin meter. Some people cannot be taught. Like Brock Lesnar, for example. Boy ain’t right. (Which reminds us… has someone checked in on his wife? Has she been flattened into crepe-like proportions?)
Thousands gathered on Mandalay Bay Beach, forcing the casino to run a line around the beach twice over just to feed people inside. Oddly enough, none of the NBA Summer League players we spotted at the blackjack table or heading into the cafe seemed the slightest bit interested in joining the crowd on the beach or in the arena: elite athletes in the same hotel showing zero interest in each other. Hopefully, James Johnson made it to the matches.
Speaking of the fans, congratulations to Richard and his blushing (or bleeding) new bride, who took the marriage plunge at Mandalay Bay’s wedding chapel Friday decked out in full UFC regalia according to sources inside the casino. At least the honeymoon bruises on both of them can be part of the wedding theme.
Of course, one of the problems with hosting spillover fans for your league’s biggest event is that it creates a little confusion around dress code. Some people went for the gusto (an unusual number of suits, even) while others felt that putting any clothes on at all was a Goddamned chore they could do without.
Everyone got into the action, even for the preliminary bouts. Jill, a lovely young lady whom we met while waiting for booze, kindly gave an example of that by pointing out she was small, spry, and could definitely be a danger given the right circumstances. We did not ask her to prove any of these points for fear of ending up like Thiago Alves.
(”Hey, over here! Drowning blogger! A little help?”)
We cannot emphasize this enough: MMA fans are more devoted and knowledgeable than you’d ever imagine from the outside. We met an Army fellow who drove all the way from Fort McCoy in Wisconsin on leave just to see UFC 100 and didn’t seem the least bit disappointed that he ended up on the beach.
A young couple flew in from D.C. just for the fight (and to lay the exact losing Mir/Alves parlay we would have if we could drag our posterior out of bed after these long nights) with a few of their friends.
And who else would you rather share the sight of Dan Henderson accidentally letting the fist slip out of the bag on one heel while Brock Lesnar solidified himself as the other? (Sure, Dana White put the fear of Dana White into Lesnar, but expect that nonsense to keep up, along with the condemnations.
(We didn’t Photoshop this. You just can’t avoid his benevolent gaze. Don’t try.)
When Dan Henderson made sure to announce to the world in his post-match interview with Joe Rogan that he would be joining one of his sponsors for a round of cold ones at Brew Pub at the Monte Carlo, we chose to stake the place out. What kind of business must that do for a place, right? And Kevin James will surely be there!
In the end, not a whole lot. The Brew Pub is marked for closure Monday until it can be reopened in September as a new creature, which made no small amount of sense. Too big to be a bar and too many tables and not enough bar counter to be a night club, its last big party under its current name proved to be respectably decent but no more.
Hipper spots such as Pure and XS reportedly packed up tightly, but Henderson’s potential title position gave him just enough juice to mostly fill the airport hanger known as Brew Pub. At least he had the good sense to make it seem like his dais, showing 90 minutes late and turning to his friends and business partners after 20-30 minutes with fans.
Which is no shame; he did spend a concerted chunk of time with those that waited for him for nearly two hours. However, those not in the initial crunch were left to watch the new colonial hero as he left for the balcony with his wife for 45 minutes (presumably to protect her from Lesnar the Prostrate) and then moved his party away from the velvet ropes for the remainder of the evening.
(This fan at left took strong issue with Henderson’s decision to schmooze the sponsors, knocking over the velvet ropes in disgust. Herb Dean promptly declared a TKO on the rope stand.)
Again, though, the fans make the event, even for the sponsor-driven boozefests. We struck up a conversation with an absolute ace of an MMA fan who pointed out all the most obscure fighters for a newcomer who attended the party and showed off his own impressive set of photos from the weekend that he showed off like his children’s home movies. What can we say? Some people come pre-sold.