Sunday, 1 May 2011
The Superior Challenge Experience
After that event had finished I sat in my car before driving home and simply stared at my eyes in the mirror as odd as that sounds. I felt more alive than I'd felt in a long time and it was at that point I knew I had to do something.
This blog, Fighters Magazine and other online bits and pieces were the genesis of what I wanted to happen but last year things went from awesome to epic when I was given the chance to commentate for UCMMA.
I've been lucky enough to call 4 amazing shows for Ultimate Challenge but, when I got an e-mail from the kids at Fortuna PR, I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
I'd read about Superior Challenge as the biggest show in Europe but to think that I'd get the chance to commentate it seemed unreal but unbelievably exciting. The card for SC7 was headlined by Jeremy Horn vs. Thales Leites and it took a while to sink in but, as the weeks passed, it dawned on me that this shit was for real.
On Friday 29th April I set out to pick up Dave and begin the drive to my brother's house who drove us to the airport and picked us up, thanks for that bra, to say it was craziness was the biggest understatement ever. It'd be more accurate to say it was like some kind of dream I was waiting to wake up from.
Friday 29th April 2011
It's royal wedding day but that's the least of my worries. I can't find a travel adaptor and Tesco is full of retards watching the wedding in the electrics bit. I decide to chance that either Dave or Rob will have one and just stock up on prescription throat medicine and Fisherman's Friends.
I didn't have a bad throat but it makes me sound a bit clearer on the mike incidentally.
I get my shit together and get on the road and, when we hit the airport, we're about 3 hours early so we decide to walk around and play some fruit machines. We're both men of the world on gambling machines but took a right royal pasting from an Egyptian machine called Top Giza which did for £8.
We're debating food and I get the drinks in while we figure it out. Coffee, Tea and 2 bottles of Mountain Dew ENERGY later and we're ready to roll after Dave opts for 3 Picnics and Kettle Chips for £2.
On the plane we debate just how insane this whole situation is and Dave notices that the prices on the in flight catalogue are in SEK. Then it dawns on me that the 50 Euros that the woman at the bank hooked me up with might not be that useful.
My only statement was simply "That might be the most elementary mistake I've ever made." True but, on balance, not the worst mistake I'll make over the next two days.
We arrive in Stockholm airport to be greeted by Rob Nutley and a nice driver with a sign that says Superior Challenge. That made my day and, as he drove us to the hotel and we chatted, I took in the beautifully lit cityscape. I was tired but secretly quite in awe.
We check in and then went for a walk around Stockholm which, that night, was a mixture of amazing architecture, 7/11 stores and Swedish kids in vintage American muscle cars listening to old time rock and roll.
We head back to the hotel and hit the hay, it was clearly going to be a huge day tomorrow.
Saturday 30th April
Get down to breakfast, after a call from Lethaby, to get started on the buffet. This was likely to be one of our few meals at the hotel and, as it's free, I decide to go huge. I'm stacking a plate full of bread and fruit when I see two people go past me in the queue and head straight for the tea machine.
I'm a well mannered buffet veteran so I decide to let it go. Good job really it was Yuya Shirai and Ryo Chonan and that shit could have got messy in a hurry.
We then proceed to have breakfast and Urijah Faber comes over to chat and ends up staying to eat about 50 oranges and hang out. He's soon joined by Sirwan Kakai and the hardest hitting deathknight in the whole of Azeroth Brad Pickett which was quality.
It's a crazy set of circumstances for sure and the diner is soon filled up with some of the baddest guys around as Hector Ramirez, Kyacey Uscola, Yuya Shirai, Ryo Chonan and Jeremy Horn roll in and raid the buffet. I was glad that nobody made any fuss or it could have got brutal in a hurry.
We finish up and go for a stroll again before getting back and getting ready to roll. Rob Nutley puts on freebird for some inspiration which works to some degree but it's followed by Freedom by Wham that strangely gets me hyped even more.
I get the famous Volcom suit on and we get driven to the venue by some really nice guys from the show after chatting with some Dinky Ninjas and the Team Hellboy Crew as well.
As we drive towards Hovet I get a strange feeling in my stomach that I haven't had since I was in bands before we went on stage. We pulled up and walked in and met Babak, the promoter, who was really approachable but was clearly nervous with the show. We were told where to go and I strolled round getting my head into the game.
I wasn't really watching properly when we walked through the corridor and, before I knew it, I reached some stairs. I looked down and that photo at the top is the view I saw. I got a feeling that I really couldn't describe and I wouldn't be able to if I wrote for the rest of my life.
I'm instantly taken back to UFC 100 when I looked down at that huge Octagon that seemed so far away in the middle of a huge arena when I got the same feeling of impending urgency.
If there's one thing I'll never forget it's how I felt when I looked down at that cage and realised that I'd be commentating this event. My body froze and I followed Rob and Dave round for the next hour or so wittering about nothing and being unable to focus.
We all finally got our passes and settled a little bit. Dave, ever the gentleman, wished me good luck which I really appreciated but before the show started me and Rob had to do a little bit of TV type stuff with the Swedish host lady.
It's loads harder than it looks but Rob's a true professional and we worked on some stuff about the upcoming fights quite well.
After what felt like a life time of waiting the house lights went down and some the intro video started on the huge video screens. I get a crazy chill, like when the drummer finishes his clicks on the first song you open with, and then I put on the headset it was time to work.
For the next few hours I was honoured to commentate on some of the most amazing fighters I've ever had the privilege of calling and the fights were fast paced and action packed. There was pyro, dancing women dressed like Kitana and Mileena from Mortal Kombat and a crazy video that still gives me the shivers.
I'll put a link up soon to my fight by fight review on MMAHQ later but it was the craziest night of fights I've seen for a very long time.
The main event finished and we quickly head off for the post event press conference and, after a quick photograph with Pedro Rizzo who had huge fucking hands, it was time to get the bus back to the hotel.
Unfortunately team Brazil (Rizzo, Leites and Acacio) got the last three seats on the bus even though Rizzo dived in the boot so we had to wait; we're nice like that.
We get the next minibus back with Jeremy Horn, his coach who's name I didn't get, Amir Khillah and Rich Clementi and got up to our rooms to call it a night as Dave and I had to get in up two hours to get the flight.
Normal Saturday indeed....
Sunday May 1st
I Got up late after not changing the hour on my blackberry. Dave, however, was all over that shit and we got to the airport on time. We went from Sweden to Denmark to Manchester to Newcastle-under-Lyme to Werrington. I dropped Dave off and rolled my car home and fell into the shower.
The rest of the day has consisted of an all you can eat chinese buffet, some junk food, UFC 129 and writing this.
There's a few things I need to say and that's simply thank you to the people who helped me out of the past few days and made everything possible.
Also, watching Machida fight this weekend, I thought back to his UFC 98 title victory. He took home the belt and told everyone "If you have a dream, go ahead, it's possible. I can do this, it's possible."
Those are the perfect words to end this blog.
Thanks a million
It's been truly epic