It was Summer 2007! I was channel surfing and landed on Spike TV. I see two combatants giving it their all, fighting in an octagon-style cage. Based on previous buzzing, I presumed this was the Mixed Martial Arts sport that’s been getting attention. I sat and gave it a shot! This particular match was a rerun of a 2005 bout where “Suga” Rashad Evans took on Brad “The Hillbilly Heartthrob” Imes. I found myself captivated with how these fighters used their every limb as weapons against their opponents. What impressed me most was how the 5’11, 205 pound Evans was able to beat the imposing 6’7”, 250 Imes in a split decision.  At that moment, Evans became my favorite fighter and MMA developed into a must-see sport for me.

As I followed it more, “Attending a live UFC event” earned a spot on my bucket list. The organization hosted a few events at the George Mason Patriot Center, but for different reasons, I didn’t attend. Fast forward to August 2011!  Thanks to my Ticketmaster e-newsletter subscription, I caught wind of UFC’s return to the Washington Metropolitan area; and like a fighter at the sound of the bell, I attacked.

On Saturday, October 1st, I will have the privilege of attending my first ever live UFC event, courtesy of its debut at the Verizon Center, also known as the “Phone Booth”. For the fight fans who are unable to attend, you can see UFC Live 6 on the Versus Network starting at 9pm. Check your local listings for an exact channel. Here’s how the main card stacks up for this momentous night:

Dominick “The Dominator” Cruz (Champion) vs. Demetrius “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (Challenger) – UFC Bantamweight Title

Getting a title fight on a non-Pay-Per-View card is a rarity. Unfortunately, the little guys of the sport have yet to become the draws that their heavier counterparts are. The tide should eventually turn for the smaller fighters because these guys have motors that only a few of the big boys can rival. “Mighty Mouse” will pose a threat with his speed and wrestling, but the unorthodox style and reach of Cruz should garner him a second successful title defense.

Pat “HD” Barry vs. Stefan “The Skyscraper” Struve- Heavyweight Division

Both heavyweights are coming off early, first-round knockout losses. Trailing only Frank Mir, The Skyscraper is the best submission artist in the heavyweight division. As of late, he’s striking more. On the other hand, I don’t know if “HD”, in Barry’s case, stands for high-definition or heavily durable. He’s one of the stronger heavyweights in the division and has a bull rush that I’m not sure El Matador can stop. On his road to redemption, I have HD crumbling the Skyscraper.

Anthony “Rumble” Johnson vs. Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman- Welterweight Division 

Truthfully, I don’t know much about these fighters. What I can do is give you what the “Tale of the Tape” tells me. It says that Johnson has one loss more than “The Spaniard”, which puts him in a place of desperation. It also shows that Johnson is the more diverse fighter of the two; excelling in striking, takedowns and submissions in terms of skills assessment percentages. What stands out most to me is Brenneman’s strong suits, which are hiscardio, wrestling and scrambling abilities.  Thanks to revelation, my call is for Brenneman to get one over on Johnson.

This card gives fighters an opportunity to show a potentially broader audience why UFC is the fastest growing sport to date. Bigger than that, it gives the Nation’s Capital a chance to represent in a way that shows it is ready to host a Pay-Per-View. There is no time like now for the District to stand up and show why this city, our city should be a regular venue for UFC (televised and Pay-Per-View) events.

I’ll see you soon with my personal account of what I saw live. October 1st can’t get here soon enough.

By Antoine Hoffman

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