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 […]
UFC Japan 2013 (UFC on Fuel TV 8) Weigh-ins
Well the dust has only just settled and already the UFC bandwagon is making its way to Canada for UFC 158 this coming weekend, but last Sunday morning’s UFC on Fuel TV 8 (called UFC Japan 2013 domestically) has got to be regarded as another success for the organization. The success and credit has to be put down in large part to the 2 main events of the night, Stefan Struve vs Mark Hunt, followed by Wanderlei Silva (pictured right) vs Brian Stann. Will focus on the weigh-ins right here, but my next post later today will look at the main event itself.
The UFC’s last trip to Japan was UFC 144 last February, which was a sell-out and regarded as a very big success after not visiting the country for so long. There were a few concerns about the crowd numbers though, as no ticket sales figures had been released and tickets were still being advertised as available. But the organizers had been very smart, and placed well-known fighters in Japan (from Pride FC days) along with almost all Japanese fighters they have on their roster. Throw in a smattering of Koreans and you’ve got a card everyone can get behind.
Unbeknownst to me, the events actually started on Friday, with a signing session and part of Shibuya 109 being transformed into a temporary UFC Store. If I’d have known about that then I’d have been there, but unfortunately I missed out on that one (must be slipping in my old age, and probably a little dazed after my pre-LASIK check – more on that in another post). The weigh-ins were on Saturday at 13:00 Japan time, but I decided to get there very early and do some writing in Starbucks for this site. As it turns out, I got there at 9:00 and there were already some people queuing! Now the Japanese like queues so I thought they might be lining up just for the hell of it, but then I saw it was a signing of some sort. Decided to join them and was about number 30 in the queue. Standing and waiting in the bitter cold & wind, and wearing a T-shirt and a not-too-thick sweatshirt, every minute made Starbucks and a hot coffee more attractive, but I decided to stick it out, and about an hour later the doors opened and we shuffled inside.
Turns out there was UFC Hall of Famer Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, and Glover Teixiera doing a signing. Well worth a little frostbite for! The queuing system was an absolute shambles though; a sentiment echoed by some of the American UFC officials there. You lined up for the signing and went past the merchandise stand where you could take advantage of smaller lines before tomorrow’s event. But after buying a programme and a poster I was then told I had to go right to the back of the queue and start the process again for signing. And then if you wanted to see the weigh-ins you had to line up again! The signing queue was now about 300 people or so deep, and there was no way I was going to the back of the line for that, but luckily I managed to sneak in with a guy from San Diego who was there lining up and who I’d chatted to earlier. Definitely the most disorganized part of the whole event though.
So I got my merchandise, and I got signatures from both Liddell and Teixiera. I’ll tell you what though: those guys look big on TV, but it’s not until you get up close & personal with them that you realise how big they actually are. But very cool to chat briefly with them both and the first fighters I’ve met.
So with all that out of the way I joined the final line for the actual weigh-ins. From around 11:00-12:00 there was an interview and Q&A segment with UFC fighters “Sexiyama” Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Hatsu Hioki. Not a huge fan of Akiyama, but he came across much better when talking to the crowd and on a microphone. Hioki definitely looked nervous or shy about the whole thing. The interview segment ended at 12:00 but then there was a one-hour wait until the actual weigh-ins. They showed some video previewing the fights but that was a 15 minute video and was just looped. Think they really should have shown something else to keep people entertained, as plenty were getting bored. Show some older UFC fights or something.
13:00 came around though and Jon Anik (Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg don’t travel out to the non-PPV events, I believe) came out to announce the fighters, along with Korean Octagon girl Su Jung Lee. I managed to get photos of most of the fighters as they stepped on the scales (everyone made weight except Diego Sanchez, who was 2lbs overweight), as well as the staredowns, and you can see the gallery of them here.
Best staredown had to be Kazuki Tokudome and Cristiano Marcello (see above), with most amusing unsurprisingly being Stefan Struve versus Mark Hunt. If you can’t see the picture of it below then imagine Gandalf standing next to Gimli from Lord of the Rings! Should also be noted that when Miesha Tate came out with her boyfriend Brian Caraway for his weigh-in, she was getting more shouts from the crowd than he was. Make of that what you will.
Best crowd reactions were given to both Mark Hunt and Wanderlei Silva; both well-known from their past fights in Japan over the years. The reaction from Su Jung Lee at the sight of 7′ tall Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve was pretty funny too, as you can see to the left here. An after 45 minutes or so the weigh-ins were over. The fighters went off to hydrate and I headed out of the arena for some ramen and a drink.
The crowd at the weigh-ins wasn’t as much as last year, but there were still a fair few people there so it left me pretty positive for a good attendance tomorrow. The reaction to Silva also told me it was going to be a very good event early on Sunday morning.
Tags: brian stann, chuck liddell, featured, glover teixiera, Japan, Japanese MMA, jmma, mark hunt, mma, saitama super arena, sports, stefan struve, su jung lee, tokyo, ufc, ufc japan, ufc on fuel tv 8, wanderlei silva