The destination was Winnipeg's beautiful MTS Centre with the event being UFC161. After watching it for so many years with my neanderthal friends, we had to make the trip and what a trip it was. That is if you consider walking the rainy downtown streets of Winnipeg in a rye-induced haze at 230 in the morning one night followed by having a chance to talk to some of the performers after the event was over in a social setting Saturday night which again resulted in a slow and painful start to the day on Sunday a great trip. Here are just a few pics.
The card was not what UFC wanted it to be and several changes had to be made in the weeks and days leading up to the event. The main event was Rashad Evans vs Dan Henderson, but the people of Winnipeg didn't seem to care. They wanted their UFC and they got it.
There were a lot of Canadians on the card, and those Canadians came through. One of them was Saskatoon's Mitch "Danger Zone" Clarke.
Winnipeg's own Roland Delorme was on the undercard and he was by far and away the most popular fighter of the evening as the hometown crowd cheered on his every move.
Much to everyone's delight, Delorme also came through.
While people were there to see the fights, they were also there to see the extremely beautiful Arianny Celeste and Brittney Palmer and both of the UFC Ring girls did not disappoint,
The crowd also loved it when the voice of the octagon Mike Goldberg and his partner Joe Rogan came out for the festivities.
I also had the chance to hob-nob with a lot of the stars of the show and the UFC. From what I've heard, I don't think Saskatoon will have to wait much longer before a card comes to Credit Union Centre. Here are just a few snaps of me with some UFC celebs...
Former CFL commish and now head of UFC Canada Tom Wright. You don't find a better guy than Tom. One of the first things he said to me was I'll be at GC 101 because you can't beat a GC in Regina.
Referee Yves Lavigne
Roy "Big Country" Nelson. The crowd was really cheering for him, but he got beat in the end in what was a riveting heavyweight match between himself and Stipe Miocic. Nelson got hit over 450 times in the match and did not go down. That is a record.
Edmonton's Ryan Jimmo. He won his match, but it wasn't particularly exciting. Near the end of his fight, a fight happened in the stands near where we were sitting. I don't think anyone on my side of the MTS Centre heard that Jimmo won because of the noise going on and everyone watching the fight which included some ladies. Even Rogan had to wonder when it was all over what had happened and in the post-fight news conference, Jimmo admitted the fight in the stands may have been better than his.
One other picture I had to show you from the MTS Centre and its this one. If you've been inside the building, you've probably seen it...
They love this guy in Winnipeg as much as we loved him in Regina. I miss seeing ya play Rip and so do a lot of others. We will never forget you!
I also couldn't believe the amount of people that stopped me while walking around the MTS Centre concourse. I must have had at least a half dozen people if not more including a father-son combo from Moose Jaw who had nothing but superlatives to say about the Sportscage and the job that is done in putting together the show that the true Rider fan wants to hear on a daily basis.
I can't really make any comments about the Rider game as I didn't really see a lot of it and when I did see it, it was basically moving my head up to a TV where there was no sound. I only had a couple of observations and these may not mean much.
--Greg Carr is going to make it tough on this coaching staff to find a spot for him
--If he performs well against Calgary, the team will have to find a way to keep Tino Sunseri around. Perhaps GM Brendan Taman better get that "9 game" handshake going. That handshake has been known to result in a finger injury.
--The defence looked like it was getting good pressure on the Edmonton quarterbacks
--Darian Durant seemed to like what was going on when he was out there,
Of course, I'll be able to give much more thought on this week's game since I'll be front and center,
That is it. I could tell stories about some of the things that happened on the road and who else I bumped into, but to protect the innocent I won't. There is that "What happens on the road trip stays on the road trip" thought process. In the end, no one was harmed in the production of what was a great weekend. Winnipeg, if you get the UFC back there, I will see you.
Thanks for checkin in!
(Pictures of Mitch Clarke and Roland Delorme, courtesy of Winnipeg Sun)