What did you think I was going to say?
I snaffled that puppy up like a fat kid on a Toblerone and, as I walked home from work on Thursday night, I knew that this weekend was going to be pretty special but I wasn't ready for just how full of win the next few days would be.
After a good tea, some last minute packing and draining the town's electrical grid by charging up every electrical device known to man, it was time get to sleep and prepare for a big day.
Friday June 3rd.
Day started pretty early and I made it to the airport for 7ish as my flight was at just after 10am.
I decided against buying a copy of Britain's Hardest Bastards on paperback, a decision I'd probably regret, and played some fruit machines. The Top Giza machine that had slayed Lethaby and I on the previous trip payed me out so I sat down and got some food. It was win already and I grabbed a cup of tea and an unfeasibly expensive cheese and meatball sandwich as time ticked away.
I got on the plane, listened to Copeland and played some Pokemon Soulsilver whilst contemplating what was surely going to be a very long day.
Flight was pretty sweet and I walked into the arrivals part at exactly 1:33 pm feeling quite awake but herein lay the problem. Due to some flight issues that I'd had when booking, this was the only flight available and Rob wasn't going to get to Sweden until 11:40 pm.
What did I do in an empty Swedish Airport for ten hours on my own you ask?
All manner of exciting things including:
- Listened to every Spitalfield album twice
- Completed Pokemon Soulsilver
- Walked up and down a lot
- Contemplated sleeping somewhere
- Tried not to text anyone
- Listened to Rime of the Ancient Mariner 6 times (To be fair that killed a load of time)
We got back to the hotel, checked in and, after a good chat and a cup of tea it was time to prepare for a day of the best kind of organised violence.
Saturday 4th June
The breakfast buffet took the kind of pounding that Jenna Jameson would have been proud of and it was soon time to trek to the studios for the first day of recording. Babek picked us up and drove us to the studio where we met the editor, Mikael Hjelm, who was cool as fuck and, much to my delight, used to play a warlock on the horde side. Fucking bad ass.
We soon got into the booth and began our day's "work"
Over the next 8 hours we commentated great fights from Superior Challenge 3,4 and 6 and I was fortunate enough to watch some truly great tussles featuring the likes of Daniel Acacio, Papy Abedi, Assan Njie and others.
There was a mid day McDonald's, which was DEAD expensive for some reason, a lot of walking in the sun and a boat load of hot drinks and shit talking.
It was perhaps the greatest day's "work" that I've ever done in my entire life.
Sunday was going to have to be pretty special and as I ate more junk food and chatted to Rob about where to get a truly great cup of tea in Sweden I was pretty fucking contented with my life.
I fell asleep watching Midsomer Murders according to Rob. Home from home indeed.
Sunday 5th June
More of the same you say? MMA, hanging out, a bit of table tennis and a load of latte? This was turning into the greatest weekend since records began and we wrapped up the dub with some intros and outros and truly awesome fights featuring Bielkheden, Acacio and Hellboy to name but a few.
As quick as the weekend had got here it had gone and as we commuted back to the airport after saying our goodbyes to Mikael it was time, once again, for the long trip home.
Flight back was fairly beautiful as I set my Ipod to play Copeland on random select and drifted in and out of sleep with my head on the window; waking up to see nothing but clouds was pretty.
I got home, was picked up by my brother and was greeted by my lovely girlfriend who, as luck would have it, was really pleased with the Hello Kitty lunchbox and pez dispenser I'd got her.
That, apart from the TUF finale and some other goodness, was all she wrote and I sit here recapping on what has been a truly incredible experience yet again.
Rob Nutley - A scholar, a gentleman and the best play by play man I've ever been fortunate enough to work with.
Jay Benjamin - Without him none of this would be possible.
Babak Aghavali - For the hospitality, the lift, the opportunity and for some of the greatest fights I've seen in a very long time.
Mikael Hjelm - Cool as fuck, everyone who plays WoW is, and a really awesome host and talented professional.
Tim Cartlidge - For picking me up and not judging when I had a Ginsters on the way home
The bottom line
Why the fuck not me? Why can't I be the guy who makes a living out of this at some point? I'm more than comfortable at the minute and I'm never going to stop striving to make this dream happen.
Almost twelve months ago to the day I commentated my third mma show in Hanley thanks to Ross Pointon and it's both humbling and flattering to think how far this has come in that time.
There's nothing on Earth that could make me stop this crusade. The 9-5 may be an essential part of the landscape at the minute but one day it'll be nothing more than a distant memory.
Love always, take care
Ben "Big in Japan" Cartlidge