I was feeling well enough to attend the weigh-ins yesterday. I came back to my room to write a report but saw that Paul had done such a good job with it, I was like “Screw it, I’m on vacation and he covered the major points anyway.”
I do have a few minor tidbits to add.
I was surprised during the weigh-ins to hear just how much support Wanderlei Silva got. You know, the UFC is viewed as a hometown sports team here in Vegas and Chuck Liddell is one of the faces of the UFC. You’d think that Silva would be treated as an outside and get booed. Not so. The crowd was excited to see him and reacted to him as if he’s been fighting in the UFC for years. And while I’m not sure they were loud enough to be heard during the live stream, there were a few small pocket of fans that booed Liddell. My guess is that there are some old school PRIDE fans that came out to see this dream match and are pro-Wanderlei.
In regard to the staredown antics, I’ve read a few comments on the Internet suggesting that it looked staged. Who knows for sure, but I couldn’t disagree more. The heat looked legit. It started off as just an intense staredown but it escalated after Wanderlei did a shoulder lunge as if he was going to throw a punch. From my vantage point, it looked like Chuck flinched. Chuck started to move away and gave Wanderlei the finger. Wanderlei got heated again and tried to go after Chuck but a ton of people stood between them. It looked real and intense. These guys have been rivals for so long and are big-time competitors. There’s probably nothing personal between the two, but neither is going to let the other gain an edge going into the fight.
The body language of both fighters was very interesting. Wanderlei was all smiles as he hit the stage. Chuck looked relaxed as usual, but he just didn’t seem as confident as he normally does. That’s probably me just reading too much into it but that’s the impression I came away with. Something just seemed a little off.
Also, if Matt Hughes thought that Matt Serra came off worse during this past season of TUF then he received a reality check when he was introduced to the crowd right before he weighed in. Hughes was almost booed out of the building! In typical Hughes fashion though, he was almost totally oblivious to it and his only reaction was a minor grin. Some of the booing could have to do with the fact that GSP is a huge crowd favorite. I was amazed at how many people traveled from Canada to see him fight at UFC 74 and he had similar support yesterday. There were tons of Canadian flags. My prediction is that when GSP headlines Montreal that it will be the loudest ovation that any MMA fighter has ever received.
Another thing I found interesting was seeing St. Pierre late Friday night.
It was kind of weird because as I was going back to my room following the IFO show, GSP and two friends of his walked right past me on my floor. I guess he possibly has the big suite at the end of the hall? It just struck me as weird because it was approximately 11 p.m. PT when I saw him. I guess I should read too much into it. He didn’t look like he was partying and there’s no sense in him going to bed that early if he’s not fighting for another 24 hours. Perhaps he was just getting something to eat?
As usual, there are a lot of fighters in town for the show. Anderson Silva, Tim Sylvia, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Clay Guida all attended the weigh-ins. Jackson approached Silva right before the weigh-ins started and the two talked for about 5-10 minutes. It was cool seeing the two top guys in their respective weight class hanging out and talking. I’ve also seen Mike Swick and Evan Tanner hanging around.
One other thing. I just wanted to give the Mandalay Bay buffet a big two thumbs down. Man, this is such an awesome hotel yet their buffet is so underwhelming. They need to step it up.