This is the most exciting fight to come to Indianapolis since Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice in Wrestlemania VIII at the Hoosier Dome.
However, I’m skeptical as to how truly exciting it can be to watch an MMA fight from any view further away than $300 will accommodate. When the fights go to the ground, it seems to me that the people with $100 seats in the 20th row will have an insufferable view, never mind the penny knaves in the balcony.
Not that I have any decision-making to do; the fight is September 25, and begins right around the time I will be cutting the cake at my wedding reception, down the street.
But I fully expect the region to go crazy for this. The UFC has built its home in the Pacific Time Zone; setting up camp in Las Vegas and only occasionally venturing east. Indianapolis has developed a moderate reputation in the sport, with the rise of Chris Lytle, and the infamously cheap antics of Matt Mitrione on season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Former WEC champ Miguel Torres fights out of East Chicago, and many more mid-level fighters train in Kentucky and Ohio. I’m sure that Dana White and his cohorts are fully aware of the explosion of the sports’ popularity amongst the region’s working class, and as it is for any sporting event in need of a neutral site—Indianapolis is the natural choice for a million reasons.
Here’s the card (from MMAjunkie.com):
• Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
• Ryan Bader vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
• Chris Lytle vs. Matt Serra
• Evan Dunham vs. Sean Sherk*
• Melvin Guillard vs. Jeremy Stephens*
• C.B. Dollaway vs. Joe Doerksen*
• Joey Beltran vs. Matt Mitrione*
• T.J. Grant vs. Julio Paulino*
• Steve Lopez vs. Waylon Lowe*
• Pat Audinwood vs. Aaron Riley*
• Mark Hunt vs. Sean McCorkle*
* - Not officially announced
The card is decent, even though there will be no titles to be won or lost. Frank Mir and Big Nog have the main-event slot, and of course Lytle is featured as the hometown hero against Matt Serra. I became a big Frank Mir fan after he tapped out Brock Lesnar, and he became one of my favorite fighters because of his color-commentary for the WEC, which I found to be engaging, informative and refreshingly honest. But I became slightly less enthusiastic after stumbling across this misogynistic video on YouTube, in which he expresses some silly opinions on gun control—for example “Everyone, especially women should carry a firearm.”
If I made a list of 100 people I know, there might be three that I would trust to carry a firearm on them at all times. And those three people would never use it. But I later realized that was an unfair (if not slightly high-handed) expectation for my favorite heavyweight; if I weeded out my favorite fighters according to their philosophical opinions on politics and life, I would quickly run out of interest in the sport.
Aside from Lytle’s bout with Serra, I’ll also be interested to see how Matt Mitrione does; he’s 2-0 in the UFC, but both victories came against winless opponents. The former Purdue football player faked a brain injury on “TUF,” so he said, to gain a strategic advantage for his next fight. He then nearly poked his opponent’s eye out, leaving him unable to fight. He is the MMA version of Ric Flair—or a meat-headed Andy Kauffman.
Tickets go on sale Saturday morning, July 24. For more information go to www.ufc.com.