Sure all of you MMA media members had an arduous ten-hour trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for UFC 134, but try traveling twenty-four hours and flying across the planet to an island the size of a thumbnail. Singapore is overly dope, but getting there is a unique voyage that often includes extreme and extended bathroom breaks in airplane restrooms. Also, time means nothing when coming to Singapore. Once you hit Narita, Japan, the time/space continuum officially breaks. It collapses and what you're left with are shards of what you assume the time is at your destination. You might as well be traveling to Alpha Centauri. After a trillion miles in space, I finally arrived to Singapore and after I made it through customs, I was greeted with a One FC sign with my name on it. Actually, a very attractive woman held the sign with my name on it. I only wish more people in my vicinity saw how baller that was. Unfortunately it was 12:10am and the airport was practically empty. I should have kept the sign as some form of evidence that at one point in my life, an attractive chick waited for me at the airport.
When I hopped in the taxi, I knew this would be the optimal moment to try out some of the Mandarin Chinese I've been learning for the past month. Bummer, the taxi driver was Japanese! I didn't prepare for this scenario, so I just handed him the card of the hotel and we were off.
The official fighter/media hotel is the Holiday Inn in the Orchard City Centre. Don't let the name fool you, folks. The place is like a five-star hotel. I can tell by the elaborate desk light that looks reminiscent of T-800's right arm. After I checked-in and unpacked my bags, I knew it was time to hit the streets of Singapore to grab some food before everything closed up. I managed to find a 24-hour wonton hut in the alley of the Orchard City Centre. Two older ladies were behind the counter, hooking it up with a giant pot of some steaming brew. I knew I could bust out some Mandarin Chinese, so I did. I pointed to something on the menu and asked what it was in Mandarin. One of the cooks flipped out, the other looked at me in disbelief. 'American?' she asked. 'Dui' I responded with (which is 'Yes' in Mandarin). Now what happened next isn't fabricated at all. Not in anyway. They put down their kitchen utensils and started chanted 'Obama, Obama! Obama is good!' and danced behind the counter. 'Hell yeah!' I thought. I knew I was about to get hooked up with some goods. One cook told me to try the number six, which was 'white fungus and dates.' It was a dessert. I got two of them on the rare chance that I enjoyed the first one, and I walked back to the hotel. Was it good? Well perhaps you missed the part when I told you it was 'white fungus.'
I woke up the next morning just in time for the weigh-ins for One FC's inaugural show. I threw on whatever wasn't wrinkled and made it down to a hotel lobby. Two buses were commissioned to pick up the media and fighters from the hotel. Among the crowd was Bas Rutten, Josh Thomson, Matt Hume and Phil Baroni. The other fighters were probably in their rooms, waiting for the second bus to scoop them up. The venue for the weigh-ins was The Cathay Centre. It looks like a giant, open mall area dipped in a bowl of contemporary design. When we arrived, the crowd was already filling up and people had their cameras in hand, waiting to grab a shot of something extraordinary. I noticed a few larger-than-life stand-up posters of the fighters in One FC erected around the area. If I had the ability to fold one up in my bag and take it back to America and give one away for a contest, I probably would. However, that's just wishful thinking. These things were huge.
After I navigated around the crowd, I found a small opening on the right side of the stage -- and MMA-Japan's Michael Hackler was busy hackling it up backstage. I finally met the Hackler, and he's exactly what I expected. The MiddleEasy Network rolled deep at the One FC weigh-ins.
We talked about stuff, you know stuff Michael Hackler likes to talk about. I noticed that he kept going backstage, so I decided to follow him to see what it was all about. Most of the fighters already arrived, including most of the Evolve MMA guys like Zorobabel Moreira, Leandro Issa and anime aficionado Eddie Ng. Shinya Aoki was also backstage hanging out with his team. They all remembered me from my previous outing in Singapore last April, so I did the whole sideways handshake, followed by the lean-in hug and pat on the back move. That's universal, try it anywhere. It will work.
Phil Baroni was sitting in the corner, cladded in his leather jacket and dark shades. Keep in mind, I've been knowing Baroni for years. I've talked to him on the phone, texted each other, interviewed him, even instructed him on how to play online poker. However, the guy has no idea what I look like. I gave him a 'What's up Phil?' and he just grumbled something to me. The guy was cutting weight. He didn't want to talk to anyone, and that's perfectly fine. The last thing I want to do with any of these fighters is jinx them before a big event. I started making my way out of the backstage area when I was stopped by Strikeforce's Josh Thomson. Baroni trained at AKA rather extensively for this bout, so I'm assuming that Josh Thomson worked with him at some length for the fight.
The ring girls approached the stage, and one particular ring girl kept an eye on me. It was cool, the feeling was mutual (and if you want another shot of her, here you go). I pulled out my iPhone and managed to grab the weight of all the fighters on the card. All weight is in kilos, since that's what the rest of the world uses.
- Soo Chul Kim (61.5) vs. Leandro Issa (61.9)
- Daniel Mashamaite (61.7) vs. Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai (61.3) The crowd exploded for Yodsanan.
- Vuyisile Colossa (.4 overweight) vs. Ma Xing Yu (70.4) Colossa didn't make weight so it was ruled a catchweight bout.
- Radeem Rahman (56.1, was .3 over but after taking off his shorts he made weight) vs. Susovan Ghosh (56.8) People went nuts for Radeem Rahman.
- Eddie Ng (72.4) vs. Yuan Chun Bo (70.0)
- Andy Wang (1kg over weight) vs. Zorobabel Moreira (72.1) It appeared that the former TUFer didn't even try to make weight. Andy had to forfeit 15% of his purse to Zoro, and the fight was ruled a catchweight bout.
- Gregor Gracie (77.0) vs. Seok Mo Kim (77.0)
Sure there were six other fighters that needed to make weight, but this was the time when I started to talk with Renzo Gracie and Chatri from Evolve MMA. I'm not sure how old they are, but everytime I talk to them it feels like I'm back in college, just minutes away from taking a keg stand. Everyone else made weight, and Shinya Aoki was keeping a watchful eye on everyone that didn't.
As Daniel Herbertson said, 'tomorrow' is a strange word when in discussion of international date lines. One FC will stream on Sherdog twenty-five hours from now which will be 7pm in Singapore, 8pm in Japan, 4am on the West Coast and 7am on the East and 12pm in the UK. Pride rules in Singapore. You don't want to miss this.