Behind the scenes of a live MMA event

My hands were sweaty, my face was red but I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass.

“Dana, could you tell me where you see Jose (Aldo) on your pound-for-pound list.”

The question was simple enough. I mean I ran it through my head a million times in a little over two minutes. The wording, the timing, the tone all needed to sound just right. After all, this question was directed at Dana White, President of the UFC and WEC.

Following Saturday’s WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber pay-per-view event, which was sponsored by AMP Energy, White and select fighters addressed the media. And there I was, covering my first MMA live event thanks to the people at AMP Energy.

At 27, I have been a dedicated MMA fan for seven years. Having seen the early days of Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock, I was re-introduced to the UFC with Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture at UFC 43 and have been hooked since.

But I am not just a fan, I am a sports writer, and have been for about 10 years now.

I knew that the opportunity of covering MMA for and The Scores Report was one I wanted to be a part of because I knew that I could do it objectively and with the respect and knowledge that MMA fans want from their writers. I’m not just a fan. Still, even having interviewed some of the top athletes in the world, my eyes were locked in with White’s as he awaited my question.

As any MMA fan knows, if White thinks you asked him a stupid question, he will let you know and he will probably sprinkle in a few expletives to describe his feelings.

So I asked my question.

“There is no doubt that (Aldo) is one of the best in the world, period,” White responded. “That is of all fighters, not just in his weight division. He’s definitely on the pound-for-pound (best fighters) list.”

My heart slowed down as White moved on to the next question. I conquered my fear. Shoot, I conquered many fears on this memorable trip, and they all added up to me realizing that this could be the first of many questions I would ask of White in my lifetime.

AMP Energy provided me with a first hand look at what goes on at a MMA pay-per-view event this past weekend. I got to see many fighters I have watched for years at their most vulnerable moments. The moments that aren’t caught on camera, and what I took away is that they are just people like you and me. We all have our oddities and quirks. I saw Ben Henderson just moments after the biggest win in his career, having defeated Donald Cerrone for the WEC Lightweight Championship, running sprints in the halls of Arco Arena.

I saw Cerrone, disgusted with his loss taking the tape off his hands with his head down. He had just spent three months of his life training every day for Saturday night, only to see himself lose in a matter of minutes.

I saw Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung sitting across from one another backstage, both bloodied and beaten after having had a 15-minute war in the cage that I will never forget. The two were even laughing with each other about the beating they gave one another.

I saw a number of fighters like Jake Shields, Chael Sonnen, Chuck Liddell, Nate Diaz and many others like White, announcer Bruce Buffer, and even the ring girls dedicate time to taking pictures with fans to show their appreciation for their unwavering support of the sport.

And that is just what I saw.

I got to meet AMP Energy fighters Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez, who were both tremendously gracious and respectful despite being asked to do yet-another interview. Faber alone had just stepped off the scales to qualify for his title fight, yet made it a point to speak with the media members that AMP had brought to Sacramento.

Later that same day, as Faber headed home to host a pre-fight barbecue, he signed countless autographs and took countless photos with fans as they flocked his car while he left Arco Arena. Faber’s teammates Mark Munoz, Danny Castillo, and Justin Buchholz gave us a tour of Ultimate Fitness. The three allowed me, as a reporter, to get a better understanding of what fighters are thinking heading into the cage.

All of these interactions were amazing, but being live in Arco Arena during the PPV was incredible.
The sheer passion and energy in the crowd was unforgettable. The chorus of cheers as Faber entered the arena was as loud as anything I have ever heard and felt. (Believe me, I have had the unfortunate experience of covering competitive cheer, so I know loud.)

My body was shaking through the vibrations of the stadium due to the volume of the roar. The same could be said about the “boos” for Aldo as he followed Faber into the cage. Each punch, knee, and kick can be clearly heard and almost felt in person. You truly gain a new respect for the sport being there live and I am thankful for that experience.

The travel was long, stressful, and tenuous, but the time in Sacramento made it all worth it. I was a fan of MMA before, and now I will always be a fan. But, more importantly, I hope to continue to be an objective reporter for the readers and offer fresh perspectives and behind-the-scenes glimpses of every event I attend in the future.

Who knows? Maybe next time I won’t feel like I’m going to crap my pants when Dana White is staring daggers at me from the podium.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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