Those who have known me a while will know that I just about kept my body shape in control (mainly in Okinawa through sweating generally due to the heat and humidity) or because of walking so much with my car dying. It definitely wasn’t due to exercise though! But after a couple of months of being back in England […]
Archive for February, 2012
It’s only 2 days since the event but today the UFC stars and staff are all flying to Sydney, Australia, for this weekend’s event. But there’s no doubt they have left the Japanese audience wanting more, and there is already talk about the UFC returning to Japan annually or even more often than that. It may not be a PPV event each time, but talk so soon about a possible return here has to be good news for anyone with an interest in MMA in Japan.
For me, it all started on Saturday morning with an early rise to my first morning up in Tokyo, after flying up from Okinawa the day before. And what a cold, miserable morning it was too. Temperatures just over freezing and a constant rain falling didn’t make someone who was used to winter temperatures of 17C or so feel very jovial. I headed off in plenty of time up to the Saitama Super Arena, to make sure of my connections and what my travelling time would be, which meant I arrived in plenty of time. Met up with friends Bret, Chris and Steve for a coffee and warm-up before went to the arena.
The Saitama Super Arena has great access. One station next to the arena itself (Saitama-shintoshin), and one station about a 5 minute walk away (Kita Yono) meant that, with the Japanese public transport system, getting there and away was no problem whatsoever. It is also an impressive arena too, and in typical Japanese fashion they have to do something crazy with it; so this one moves! One end of the arena can actually move out so it goes from a square-shaped arena to a stadium the size of a football pitch. Saitama Super Arena… TRANSFORM!!!
The Q&A session was scheduled to start at 11:30am, so I thought that heading to the entrance at 10:30 would mean we were almost the first people there. But then
I forgot about the Japanese love of making hge lines for anything! When we got there there were already a few hundred people at least in front of us. I was expecting just a couple of hundred there for the weigh-ins, so to see so many people made me think maybe the event will be better attended than I thought. So we queued until about 11:00 when they started letting people in. Everyone was given a ticket when they went in which would be used in a prize giveaway after the Q&A session. I was hoping to win either Arianny Celeste or Azusa Nishigaki (octagon girls, see right) but alas I won nothing.
They were selling merchandise though for the event so once inside I joined yet another queue for the merchandise booth. They had the usual clothing items, posters etc there. They also had a replica belt; quite cool but at $500 it should come with a title shot too! And they had a signed poster which had signatures from all the fighters on the card and which cost $250. A lot, but potentially worth quite a bit in the future. if I hadn’t had to spend a little extra than I thought on the car recently I might have considered it. I did want to pick up a programme though… well that was until I saw the price of them! I go to a few sporting events in England and even at finals the programmes cost a maximum of around $8. So you’ll understand that I was a bit surprised when I saw that these ones cost $50. So I just got a couple of posters and made my way into the arena itself. Grabbed some seats which were pretty close to where I was going to be for the fights the next day, and was surprised at the quality of view we got relative to the ticket price. Not too far away and we could clearly see the stage and area they had erected for the weigh-ins and Q&A session.
UFC Welterweight interim champion Carlos Condit was supposed to be the guest for the Q&A, but it pumped everyone up even more when they announced that instead of him, UFC Welterweight champion Georges “Rush” St. Pierre (see left) was going to be the guest. He came out to a huge reception from a crowd that had grown to around 1,500-2,000 people. The questions he was asked were not the most probing in the world (“How do you like Japan?”, “What karate moves do you use when fighting”), and I was half expecting them to ask the typical question of whether he can use chopsticks, but they refrained. They did ask him though whether he was going to ever fight in Japan with the UFC. An awful question to answer right, but you can see his attempt below. I think he made a pretty good one.
Prizewinners were then chosen to have photos with GSP and get some other goodies, and then it was time for the weigh-ins. Out came UFC President Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, octagon announcer Bruce Buffer, Arianny & Azusa, and then MC for the weigh-ins, Joe Rogan. The atmosphere was building quickly now as all the fighters had they time to step onto the scale and weigh-in. Mark Hunt got a good reception, as did the Japanese fighters of course (with the exception of Yoshihiro Akiyama, whose reception was very mixed), but the majority of the cheering was kept back for Rampage Jackson.
Rampage made his name with the Pride organization and in Japan, and it seems to be a place very close to his heart. That, combined with fight day being 6 years to the day since he last fought in Japan was making it a huge occasion for him. He came out with traditional rising sun headband to a huge ovation. However, the smile and cheering died down when it was announced he was 6 pounds overweight. In the UFC, you are allowed to be 1 pound over. More than that and you can be given 24 hours to lose the weight. The problem with that for this event was that 24 hours ahead of the weigh-ins would be fight-time, so it wasn’t logistically possible. It was announced the fight would go on, but that 20% of Jackson’s purse would go to opponent Ryan Bader. He said he’d had some setbacks in his training camp but was looking forward to putting on a good show for the fans. That didn’t appease Dana White though, who looked like he was ready to choke someone out!
Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson also got big ovations for their appearance at the weigh-ins, and with the exception of Jackson, everyone came in within weight limits. Everyone was thanked for coming, and the arena lights came back up. People with certain tickets for the weigh-in were given a UFC mousemat as they left. Don’t really need one but am always willing to pick up free stash so I grabbed it and some more flyers. And that’s all she wrote for the weigh-ins. Everyone was psyched for what was set to be a great UFC 144.
Below are some photos from the weigh-ins. For more, check out my photo album here
As the final few days tick down, more and more things are getting released about UFC 144 up in Saitama. Yesterday we had one of the best advertising posters I’ve seen for an event in a while, featuring Quinton Rampage Jackson. He is the most well-known non-Japanese fighter on the card, due to his popularity in the now defunct Pride organization. He has said in the lead up to this event that it was his dream to come back to Japan, and how Japan feels like home for him. I’m kind of thinking that win or lose (but especially lose) this fight could be his last in the UFC. It will be 6 years to the day since he last fought in the country, so the event holds an even more special significance for him.
And then today we had a double-whammy. The Countdown to UFC 144 video was shown, and an online version of the official event programme was released by the UFC. And I’ve been kind enough to include both in this post right here for you folk. For anyone with an interest in the best fightcard of the year so far then these 2 should be must-see items.
So enough talk and onto what you’re more interested in. Enjoy the programme and videos, and I look forward to be reporting to you from Tokyo on Saturday after the weigh-ins.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcmdP5n_pEU
I know a few of you guys are checking here for updates regarding UFC 144 and I have some news that may be of interest to you. Like me, plenty of you will be traveling from or through Tokyo to the Saitama Super area on Sunday. But you might want to give yourself more time than you first thought.
February 26th is also the date of the Tokyo Marathon, which starts from Shinjuku and goes throughout the capital, with road closures and traffic restrictions all over. It starts at 9:00am and I am expecting a lot of people getting the train into Shinjuku for it. The public transportation system in Japan is usually pretty good and should be able to cope, but you might want to give yourself some extra time. Once you’re on the train out of Shinjuku, you’ll be fine; it’s just if you’re planning to travel through there you could experience some slowdown.
Just wanting to pass on the info so nobody misses the start of the fights. See you all in 6 days!
Update: One more bit of UFC 144 news. All tickets are now sold out except for some RS and SS seats. Still a chance of a full house!
Well with UFC on Fuel TV finishing, there are no UFC events until UFC 144 on February 26th. While everyone has known the time and date of the main event, a lot have been asking about when the weigh-ins will be. Well they have finally been announced so I can bring the info to you.
The weigh-ins, according to the UFC (just adding that disclaimer so I don’t get a lynch mob after me if it’s wrong!) will be at the Saitama Super Arena on Saturday 25th February at 1:00pm Japan time. That corresponds to 11pm ET and 8pm PT on Friday night in the States. If nothing else, being at the arena means you can be sure of your travel routes and connections before the main event.
If any more details are announced about the weigh-ins or surrounding events, I’ll post them up here. Nothing much more to say about that, except that I’ll be there and I hope I’ll see some of you there too!
EDIT: More info just released. While the weigh-ins start at 1:00pm Japan-time, there will be a Q&A session beforehand with UFC Welterweight interim title-holder Carlos Condit, and Octagon girls Arianny Celeste & Chandella Powell. Prize giveaway also, featuring UFC gear signed by fighters. This will all be free, and if you want to be there for it all then you need to get to the Arena by 11:30am. Yours truly is gonna be there in plenty of time!
The news about UFC 144 at the Saitama Super Arena on February 26th just keeps getting better and better. The card is stacked with stars, the fights should be really close ones, and yesterday it was announced that the main fight card is going to be a 4-hour pay-per-view event. This is in contrast to the usual 3-hour PPVs that are in the States, and leans towards the Japanese fans’ desire for long events. We’re not in the same league as the biblical-length 10-hours on the Dream card for their end of 2011 event, but it still shows the UFC is trying to make the most of this all-expenses-paid trip to Japan.
With a usual start time of 10pm ET in the States, this means a potential finish of 2am, and a long night for all. Although this does raise an interesting point. The tickets say that the start time is 1000, yet media outlets are saying it will be a 7:30pm ET (i.e. 9:30am Japan time) start for the first fight of the evening, Tiequan Zhang vs Issei Tamura. I’m gonna be there early on anyway, but would like to see every single fight on the card that I can. Am sure a lot of people are the same, but might miss out if they only plan on arriving at 1000am.
A couple of weeks ago it was announced that 15,000 tickets had been sold, so it should hopefully be close to a full house by the time Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson step out for the main fight of the evening. With just 10 days to go now until fight day, the countdown well and truly is on.
A trailer/preview/whatever you want to call it has just been released officially by the UFC to promote UFC 144 at the Saitama Super Arena on February 26th. It’s only 19 days away now and I, like some 15,000 others who are reported to have tickets, can’t wait. If ticket sales figures are accurate then it’s way over what initial predictions were, and should make for a great atmosphere. In addition, there was a back-page advertisement in today’s Daily Yomiuri advertising the event. Hopefully that will drum up some more publicity and get the event close to a sell-out.
If you need any help in getting to the arena then have a look here. And come have a drink afterwards at the HUB in Saitama!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV0qI9z_690
After a downtime of over 3 months, just after 21:00 Japan Standard Time on Sunday January 29th 2012, the key was turned and my Evo finally breathed into life once more. But what a mission it was to get it there. What I thought would take just over an hour on Sunday morning ended up being 12 hours of constant work without any food or drink breaks. The battery got connected up relatively easily and without major incident, and that was where the simplicity ended.
When that was wired in I was able to connect the battery and see if everything did. My boost controller, fan controller and wideband did, but they stayed on when I pulled the key out! Realised I’d tapped into the wrong wire under the dash so had to redo that, and then a few other bits of wiring. That needed sorting out.
The oil line was re-cut and fit, but it is running pretty close to the exhaust manifold. I’ve got heat reflective tape on it but might have to replace the aluminium pipe with steel (higher melting point). Gonna try and do some testing as to how much heat the tape will reflect. With that done it was time to get the laptop connected, turn on the new fuel pump and check for leaks in the new fuel lines we’d made…
Which we could have done, except we had pretty much no fuel pressure. The gauge should have been recording 43psi of fuel pressure and was barely getting over 10psi. Not what should be happening. So it either meant the fuel pump was bad or the Sard fuel pressure regulator. As the pump was brand new we decided to put the stock regulator back on. And this is where things got a little fun. The line was braided steel which doesn’t flex too easily, but we could get it to run to the stock fuel pressure regulator with a bit of rerouting. My friend helped pull it through partly, but then needed me to grab it from under the intake manifold and pull it through the rest of the way. So I stuck my hand right under the manifold and just about grabbed it and was pulling it through. It was at that point that I discovered that braided steel touching the starter motor with the battery connected can cause a lot of sparks and a fair bit of pain. Not to mention this was a line that goes, unblocked, direct into the fuel tank and just minutes before had fuel flowing through it. Yeah… that could have ended very badly for me and the street.
But after about 10 minutes I had regained the feeling in my left hand(!) and was ready to go again. The left hand has taken a bit of a beating in the past week, with dropping a soldering iron on my wrist last week when both hands got a bit stuck, and giving myself a nice 3/4” 2nd degree burn. So after that having almost 80 amps go through that hand was just a bit tingly! But we got the line rerouted and connected up to the stock regulator, turned the fuel pump and looked at the gauge. And we saw… not a lot.
Still 10psi of pressure, which meant that something was wrong with the pump. The sun had gone down now and I was getting pretty tired, but was so close so I couldn’t really give up here. Pulled the fuel pump out and had a look at it. Looks like when I’d changed the fuel pumps over at the start of the build, I hadn’t transferred a spacer that keeps an o-ring in there securely. Because of that, the first time it built up pressure, the o-ring popped out and it couldn’t build up again. Put the spacer and a bigger o-ring in there and put the pump back in. Was dark now and I was pretty much down to my last chance to start the car up. Fired up the fuel pump and secured the hoses… pressure was 43psi and there were no leaks. Looking much better.
Turned the key and the starter turned a few times before finally the engine caught and it fired up. There were a few big exhaust leaks but considering that it was a first startup it was running pretty well. I did a bit of logging with the computer and everything seemed to be just about right where it should be. Success!
A bit more playing around since has revealed that our work on the cooling system and custom radiator may have paid dividends. At idle, even revving the engine for a while, we couldn’t get coolant temperatures to rise above 85C. That is even better than we thought; as soon as the thermostat opens the radiator cools the coolant and it closes back up again. As our main cooling worries were when it was stood, then it’s a very promising sign.
So just a few more loose ends to tie up inside the car and out, and I should be mobile in the very near future. Expect videos and much more interesting
pictures very soon.