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Sidelines: WEC 48 was an unbelievably loud attack on the senses
The best way I can describe the atmosphere in and around WEC 48 inside Sacramento’s Arco Arena was loud. Everything about the mixed martial arts pay-per-view event was loud, and I mean everything.
The pre- and post-fight music was loud. The T-shirts that most of the 15,000 men, women and children in attendance were wearing were super loud. The faux-hawks, mohawks and other gelled-up hair-dos were loud and the plethora of bedazzled jean pockets rolling around Arco Arena were also loud.
But the loudest thing in the arena was the fans. The energy inside of the building that normally houses NBA basketball games was ridiculous.
I’m pretty sure the Sacramento Kings have never heard cheers like I heard Saturday night when I was lucky enough to spend the weekend in Sacramento covering WEC 48 and Decatur High School graduate Ben Henderson.
This was my first-ever time covering a mixed martial arts event and the whole aura surrounding the festivities was ridiculous.
The music was blasting, the strobe and spot lights were bouncing around the arena like it was a dance floor or something and the fans are cheering their guts out. They were literally going crazy with anticipation before, during and after each fight.
I have been to countless Seattle Seahawk and Washington Husky football games and was at several Mariner games during their magical 1995 run.
But the passion, energy and shear volume inside Arco Arena Saturday made those events seem like I was watching the national spelling bee or something.
Now I know what the Colosseum in Rome was like during the time of the gladiators. I was expecting the ring announcer to say, “In this corner, Maximus,” and then a lion to come out from underneath the ring.
But I barely even noticed the violent, brutal aspect of the sport. Sure, there was blood in a couple of the fights. But I walked away from the event in total awe of the athleticism of the fighters.
They are the best conditioned athletes I have ever seen. To basically punch, kick and wrestle for 25 minutes straight is literally unbelievable.
I now have big-time respect for guys like Henderson, Jose Aldo and Urijah Faber after seeing them perform up close and personal.
I went into WEC 48, not knowing what to expect. Basically, the only thing I knew about mixed martial arts is what I saw on TV and the stereotypes that go along with the sport.
I came into Saturday expecting to see a lot of mohawks, tattoos and colorful and glittery clothing in Sacramento. And in those terms, I wasn’t disappointed, because I saw far more than even I was ready for.
I guess that would be my only head-scratcher regarding mixed martial arts. Where else could you ever wear that MMA-inspired T-shirt than an MMA event? You can’t really wear a skin-tight white shirt with a sequin-outlined tiger to your job unless you just happen to work at a supply store for Olympic figure skaters.
But that was my only complaint. Seeing an event live is a treat for any sports fan. Mixed martial arts is the WWE without the script. Every sense in your entire body is touched by the show’s production value.
It’s literally like a concert in between each fight. The music and entrances of the fighters might actually be better than the fights themselves.
There is no down time for the fans at all. I got to Arco Arena at 3 p.m. and didn’t head back to my Chevy Impala rental car until 11 p.m. But it seemed like I was in the building for five minutes.
The saying, “time flies when your having fun,” has never been more poetic.
Another impressive part of attending WEC 48, was the fact that Henderson is as nice in-person as he is on the phone.
Following a post-fight press conference, when he answered questions from reporters from ESPN, USA Today and Yahoo! Sports, Henderson found time to shake hands with a two-bit sports hack from the Federal Way Mirror and personally thank me for coming to Sacramento.
Thanks, Ben. It’s something I will never forget.