Saturday, November 15th, 2008
I had set my alarm to wake up at 8:30 but the maid ended up knocking on the door and woke me up by 8:15. I felt like a ton of bricks had fallen on my head, and I don't even drink!! It had been a long day but it was a ton of fun and I was happy with the turn out. If you want to read the Blog about the Combatlifestyle.com One Year Anniversary Party, you can find it here: http://www.combatlifestyle.com/words/gdetail.php?id=124
I had a photoshoot with Arianny for the cover of a magazine scheduled for 12, so that meant I had check out of the room and get all the stuff down to my car as soon as possible. I was still trying to leave to room in as good of condition as I could, and that meant cleaning mushed cake out of the carpet, and strawberry cake filling off the wall paper. As I walked around the room barefoot, I found myself grimacing as I stepped into numerous mystery wet spots. We managed to pack up pretty quickly and we were down in valet before 11am. Dennis and Brad took off (I didn't even know where they were staying) and Rara, Jaycee and I headed back to my house.
Once back at the house, I unloaded some stuff out of the car, and then jumped in the shower. I was ready and pulling up to Wanderlei's gym by noon. But no one was there! I knew that Wandy had an autograph signing so he wasn't going to be around, but I thought that the people building the gym would be around; I was supposed to set up and do the shoot there. I also still hadn't heard from Arianny. So while the magazine tried to iron out the details, I went over to On The Mat where they had a BBQ and informal autograph signing going. I was there for about 30 minutes when I finally heard from her and headed to the MGM to pick her up.
We had to improvise and went back to my house where I have a small studio set up. She didn't mind and she got ready as I got my lights all and equipment out. She was extremely easy to work with as she is a pro at doing photoshoots. Leslie had done her makeup prior to me picking her up so we got the shoot done in under 2 hours. Gary was there video taping the shoot, and gave her a ride back to the MGM so that I could stay home and get ready for the fights.
I made it down to the arena to check in around 5:15. The first fight was already underway. To my dismay, I didn't get cageside this event. I always know that it's a possibility but I was still bummed nonetheless. I went to the UFC Media room located downstairs in the arena and grabbed a bite to eat from the media buffet. I watched the Jeremy Stephens fight from the Media center as I finished my meal and then went in search of my media position.
This UFC at MGM Grand had better media positions than the BJ Penn/Sean Sherk fight memorial day weekend. Still not the best location, I hunkered down and started shooting anyways. It was the Jorge Gurgel/ Aaron riley fight and this was a battle that went to a decision that left Aaron Riley's hand raised. This fight was the last on the undercard so I had a bit of time to relax before the main event began. I also later that this was the only fight that went the distance to a decision.
I was amazed as I watched the next 4 fights fly by; each one ended in the first round and the longest one was just over four minutes. Demian Maia secured rear naked choke in 2 minutes, Gonzaga TKO'd Hendricks in a minute, Hazelett armbarred McCrory in under 4 minutes, and Florian got Joe in a rear naked in just over four minutes. This all meant that there was a lot of time in between fights and I spent that on the concourse hanging out with the guys from North County Fight Club and a number of fighters as they walked past.
At 9pm, the Randy Couture/Brock Lesnar fight got underway. Although the betting lines showed Brock to be the favorite, the crowd was cheering and chanting Randy's name and booed Lesnar as he entered the arena. They clinched right off the bat and after a few knees from Brock they faced off in the center of the octagon. Brock shoots in for the takedown and is unsuccessful as they clich against the fence before finally getting randy to the canvas. Randy reverses and gets up before Brock gets him on his back again. Randy turns over under the hulk of Brock Lesnar and gets out and stands up. He picks Brock up but because Brock grabs the fence, is unable to score the takedown as the round ends. As the second round starts, they exchange on the feet for a while before Brock's right hand drops Randy to the ground. He jumps on top throwing fist after fist till the referee calls a stop to the match at 3:07 of the second round.
The crowd was in shock. They didn't know what to think as they still booed Brock. When Joe Rogan interviewed Randy, the crowd started chanting his name yet again. Usually when a fight is done, the arena clears out. Not this one; everyone stayed in their seats to hear what Randy had to stay. I sent off some of my photos and packed up my bag before heading out onto the concourse. The arena was empty by this time.
Once on the concourse, I ran into the whole crew of fighters from Xtreme Couture. This included Gina Carano, Tyson Griffin, Gray Maynard, Martin Kampmann, Jay Hieron, Mike Pyle, Amir Sadollah, Ray Sefo, and more. Funny thing was that the whole crew was waiting as fans lined up to take photos with Gina. It was almost like none of them were there! They didn't complain and waited patiently as fan after fan approached Gina; on occasion the fans turned to take photos with the other guys. It didn't stop once outside the arena; it continued through the studio walk as well. We ran into many other fighters along the way including Mark Coleman, and Robert Drysdale.
I ran back to a restaurant called Diego's to meet up with John Lewis while the rest of the group went in search of a place to eat at. He had wristbands for the Couture afterparty @ Studio 54 that night. I ran in to grab some and out quickly and as I was on my way to find the restaurant the group was at, ran into Roger Huerta and Robin from Bad Boy MMA.
They dragged me into a restaurant.. I really am not sure which one it was tell you the truth. I keep thinking Kraftsteak but I think thats in the Mandalay Bay. Oh well, it doesn't matter the name of it really. They brought me to table that had about 20 people at it including Dan Henderson, Arianny Celeste, and a number of other MMA industry people. I didn't stay long except to say hi before running into Joe Rogan, Eddie Bravo, Akosa (formerly of Pro Elite) and Jason Chambers as I took off out the door.
I called Tyson to see where they were at and it was so loud I had to have him spell it to me. "F-I-A-M-M-A," he spelled. Fiamma was where they had chosen to dine and I was led to the table by the hostess. It was here that they were peacefully enjoying appetizers. I took a seat next to my BFF, Amir and because I knew that I wanted to go possibly grab sushi later, all I ordered was a side salad. Little did I know that this was my meal for the rest of the night. It was ok because I filled up on bread as I often do. I handed my camera off to Gray for a bit and he had fun taking pictures of the table.
I had places to go and people to see so I said goodbye and exited from the dinner table. I made a beeline for the hotel elevators and jabbed the button for the 9th floor. I still remember the room number 9-127. Not quite sure why; my memory works in weird ways.. I knocked and within seconds Urijah's friend, Manfredda answered the door; his cowboy hat occupying it's place on his dome as always. Danny Castillo was also present as well as a three guys I had never seen that had somehow latched onto Urijah (they were from Sacramento too).
I left my backpack in the room, grabbed an extra key from Manfredda and then we all adjourned downstairs. Rara was at the private party being held by Cagefight in the MGM Mansions. Now, most people don't even know that the mansions exist. They are "hotel rooms" that have a hidden entrance through the high roller gaming area. I haven't been to them in years. Once we walked past the security desk (this is where Rara met us to walk us in) we entered into a huge, and amazing atrium area that had doors leading off in all different directions. Rara knew exactly where we were going otherwise we would have gotten lost in the maze of hallways that led to the huge door into the mansion.
What we found there was a ton of people milling around drinking and socializing. We must have just missed the meal because the long table in the dining room area was littered with empty plates, leftover food, and desserts. I spotted many familiar faces in the group as I ran around exploring the location we were in. It had a huge spa inside in a room off the living room and there were a number of bedrooms as well as an office; all the decor and furniture looked very expensive.
I came across Mark Coleman having an arguement with a young wrestler; I saw him a number of times over the weekend but never got his name. I heard Coleman say right as I walked up,"I will GIVE you $10,000, if you can take me down. Right here, right now!" And without hesitation the two went at it. The contest finished with an inside leg trip from Mark Coleman that had the young kid on the hard tiles on his back. Coleman's victory dance included raining fake punches down and yelling very loudly!
It was 11:30 by then and we decided to take off to Studio 54 for Randy Couture's party. We got directions out of the maze and back into the casino where we ran into all of the Xtreme Couture crew waiting for Randy out front. There was a red carpet set up that the press requested Urijah walk down and as he was doing so, Randy arrived. They hugged and greeted each other there before we took off inside and left Randy to the press. The host took us to Randy's VIP area that was relatively empty as of yet.
That didn't last long as all of the Team from Couture's came up and joined us including Gina Carano, Martin Kampmann, Ron Frazier, Tyson Griffin, Jay Hieron, Shawn Tompkins, Mike Pyle, Ryan Couture, Phil Baroni and more! The VIP area was also filled with all sorts of people that I didn't recognize as well. It wasn't long before Randy and Kim had arrived. I didn't even have to see them to know they were there; the flashbulbs started going off and the crowd around the VIP got a lot louder. Randy spent a lot of time taking photos with the fans that were hanging out around the VIP.
It was getting way too crowded for my tastes so I went over to the Gamma O VIP area across the way from Randy's. Gonzaga grabbed me to say hello as I was walking by so he, herb dean and I got a photo together. I continued on to the VIP and found that many of Randy's fighters had escaped over here from the craziness. I spent the rest of my time in Studio 54 in this area before convincing a couple of my girlfriends to walk across Las Vegas Blvd to Rok inside New York, New York.
As we made our way across the bridge over the strip, we ran into Punkass leaving the Tapout party. He was done for the night and heading back to his hotel room. Maybe the party from the night before had drained all his energy? It was already after 2 and as we were walking around looking for the club (I had never been there before) we ran into CB Dollaway and Ryan Bader as they were leaving. They said, "Everyone's already gone!" So we made an about face and headed back into the MGM. They went to Studio 54 and we grabbed a car our front of the hotel to take us to Tao Nightclub where Kenny Florian's party was at.
Since it was already a quarter to 3 by this point, the front of the club wasn't crazy. We were taken to Kenny's table by a VIP host where the inside of the club didn't resemble the outside by any means. I spotted Kevin Kearns on the couch dancing like it was 1999 and then spotted Kenny up on the catwalk next to his brother. Kurt Pellegrino was also there hanging out and I conducted my photograph symphony without hesitation. I have to admit I was bummed that there was no sign of Mark Dellagrotte though. Apparently I had just missed him.
At 3am sharp, a Unicorn arrived on the catwalk flanked by 4 or 5 go go dancers. This unicorn strutted around and danced, and Kevin Kearns didn't hesitate to join it on the catwalk until he was kicked off by security. No harm no foul, he continued his dance on the couches surrounding the table. I was so exhausted by this time. I left Lexxi and Naomi to hang out with out poker player friend, David Williams and I attempted to escape out of the club and into a taxi.
I almost made it but as I was walking out the front door, I ran into Roger and Robin. They were en route to the club to meet up with Kim Goldberg (at Kenny's table!) Actually, I get the feeling that Kenny and Roger are totally cool with each other which is something that I respect about a lot of the fighters in this industry. They attempted to drag me with them and managed to pull me most of the way across the casino before I escaped their clutches and made it safely into a cab.
One last journey to make and that was to grab my bag from Urijah's room. I racked my brain for a second and then remembered, 9-127. The key I had gotten earlier in the evening didn't work for some reason so I had to pound on the door to get Urijah to hand me my backpack. I made the mile long walk out to the parking garage where I came across Gina, Ryan, and Tyson as they were in search of their car. The drive home was a tough one because although it was less than 3 miles, I was so tired that I was hard pressed to stay awake. I didn't pass go, I didn't collect $200. I hadn't gotten a call time for my shoot with Wanderlei the next day so I didn't set an alarm. I went straight into my room, took my make up off, and crashed out.