While much of the excitement to be found during a mixed martial arts event takes place in between the red and blue corners, what happens outside the cage can add a wild card element of electricity to any event.
The sights and sounds that come from the crowd often have as big of an impact on the intensity of an event as the fights alone. Every MMA fan has heard the best of both worlds at some point or another.
On one hand you have the faithful, knowledgeable, and appreciative fans that can understand and respect any aspect of how a fight may be going. Whether it be a technical grappling exchange, two men vying for dominant position against the cage, or two strikers feeling each other out to open up a round, there are those who can acknowledge and appreciate what is happening.
On the other hand you have the less faithful, less knowledgeable fans who maybe are in attendance with a more primal urge to see an exciting knockout or exchange of blows on the feet. Maybe a little blood would serve their hunger, or a strong TKO or submission victory. Anything less, though, usually results in the arrival of the boo birds and vocal discontent for how a particular match maybe going.
The best example of the more appreciative fans can be found in Japan. The aspect of martial arts is so deeply entrenched in the culture over there that the understanding of the finer points of MMA by the fan base is very deep. Talking with Team Don Frye, which frequented Pride events with great regularity, they will tell you the Japanese are the best and most knowledgeable fans in the world.
As for the latter of the two types of fans that can be found at any given event, regional fans seem to be the worst, with regard to being impatient or at times downright rude. Vulgarities, and less than classy commentary from various spots in a regional venue can really be a turn off to those in the know. That of course hinges on the event though.
MMA is being contested not only all over the country, but obviously all over the world. This opens the door for various fan bases to almost give a signature to their venues, or the local from which they hail. Not unlike the Japanese, an entire demographic can build a reputation as a good or bad group of fans.
Of course this has a lot to do with what happens inside the cage as mentioned before. Still, there is a happy medium where a group of enthusiasts can display their appreciation and true love for the sport of MMA or they can show their asses and just how far removed they truly are from understanding it.
It is with that in mind that it seems worth noting the simply amazing group of fans that set a venue sales record at the Acer Arena in Sydney Australia for UFC 110. This is a group of people who should be commended for their support of the event, and the sport, and most importantly how they conducted themselves during the event.
Accounts reported that the show sold out in under an hour. Over sixteen thousand tickets in one hour! Give that a moment to settle. That should have been the tell tale sign that MMA fans of the Outback are an under appreciated lot. It was definitely indicative of their hunger for the sport.
What was really impressive was their seemingly undeniable interaction within the event itself. When Australian native George Sotiropoulos was on his way to the biggest upset of the evening over Joe Stevenson, Joe Rogan expressed concern that the building was going to come down on more than one occasion. Keep in mind, this was primarily a grappling exchange for most of the fight, not a brawl by any means.
The absolute feverish and deafening cheers and excitement of the crowd was undeniable. They were rumbling that arena with a thunder unlike anything this writer has heard since Randy Couture dropped Tim Sylvia in the opening salvo of their heavyweight title match. Engineers had best check the Acer Arena and discern if it is still structurally sound after last Saturday night.
Our good friends down under showed that when it comes to MMA fans, they are a class act and top shelf with regard to their knowledge and appreciation for a good fight. From the second the tickets went on sale, to the weigh ins, and all the way to the last second of the last fight, they were as good a group of fans as any other that can be mentioned.
The interest has been expressed that the UFC intends to go back down to the Outback for more events. Zuffa knows what it’s doing, and instantly had to recognize that even though UFC 110 was a stellar night of fights, that the other element of UFC 110 that really made the show were those fans in the crowd.
A great night of fights like UFC 110 is rare indeed, but to combine those great fights with a phenomenal crowd like Sydney Australia had in attendance that night, is priceless. It is encouraging to know that, as Dana White predicted, MMA is so loved and appreciated in so many places in the world.
Welcome aboard Australia, and for the sake of all that is holy, please try and contain your excitement next time the UFC comes to the Outback. Krikeys mates, you guys are out of control! You scared Joe Rogan half to death.
Tags: Dana White, George Sotiropoulos, Joe Stevenson, Mixed Martial Arts, UFC, UFC 110