We’re less than a week out from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)’s second stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (trust me, you’ll hear this more than once during the live broadcast this Sunday). The promotion’s last Maritime visit was back in October of 2014 for Fight Night 54 (headlined by Rory MacDonald versus Tarec Saffiedine). Having long been a fan of Mixed Martial Arts, I fell in love with the UFC back in the single digit pay-per-view days, and watching guys like Dan Severn, Royce Gracie and Tank Abbott compete in legendary one-night tournaments. When the opportunity came to take in my first UFC event, I leapt at the chance, and rounded up some friends and procured tickets.
I will tell you this, whether watching UFC cards at home, or down at the bar with like-minded fight fans, attending in person is an entirely different experience. First and foremost, if you don’t take into account the length of time you are going to spend in the arena, then it could seem like a long evening/early morning. With Fight Night 54, the majority of the fights went the distance and were left in the hands of the judges, so there were few fights that lasted less than a round, which can make for a longer event. It wasn’t even the fact that there were few stoppages, it was the crowd’s conditioning that really played a big part the first time around.
One of the big stories going into the weekend was the fact that local fighter Chris Kelades was a last minute addition to the card, and the electricity during his fight was palpable. The crowd ooohed and ahhhed with every punch and kick that was landed and, for the entire 15-minute fight, the crowd was on the edge of their seats. The only downside was that this was the third fight of the night (first of the televised preliminary card) and, as the night wore on, it was clear that the audience had either gassed out early, or the dreaded adrenaline dump occurred and we all needed a nap. Either way, the crowd in attendance was not prepared for a marathon night of fights, and I think it showed.
When you get to the arena, be prepared for a marathon, and not a sprint. It’s a fantastic treat to walk in and see the Octagon just sitting in the middle of the Scotiabank Centre, and when the night kicks off, it’s a fun experience. It’s certainly different, as you don’t get to see all of the content between the bouts, or the banter between Jon Anik and Brian Stann, but you certainly get an appreciation for their ability to ignore the flurry of activity, and the roar of the crowd which is swirling around them. To add to the atmosphere, the UFC has a DJ providing a soundtrack for those in attendance, and the fact that none of this makes it to air is impressive.
Truer words have never been spoken in the UFC than “Card is Subject to Change”. Much like other professional sports, the UFC is no stranger to injuries, and Fight Night 105 is not immune to those changes. When the return to Halifax was announced, the feature fight was set to pit Junior Dos Santos against Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve, however a back injury to Struve left Dos Santos without an opponent, ultimately led to him being pulled from the Halifax card, and eventually landed him a title fight opposite Heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic in May at UFC 211. Earlier this month Liz Carmouche was forced to pull out of Fight Night 105, and Gina Mazany was tapped to replace her. As we’re less than a week away, the card should be pretty well set, but we’ll have a better idea after Saturday afternoon’s weigh-ins.
If you haven’t secured tickets already, there’s still time left to do so. For fans of the UFC, it’s a great time to see some Mixed Martial Arts action live and in person. Visit Ticket Atlantic to order your seats, and be there Sunday night for the UFC’s second Maritime visit, and to support our local East Coast fighters on the card.