With many fighters sticking to their customary walk-in music at UFC 139, it was refreshing to hear a few new and exciting tunes from those who stepped outside the box. Walk-in music can serve so many purposes like pumping up the crowd, inspiring the fighter and steadying nerves, but some fighters choose to just have fun with it.
Tom Lawlor, who has come out to “Who Let the Dogs Out” at UFC 100 and James Brown’s “Living in America” at UFC 113, has really set the bar for entrance songs. He did not disappoint at the HP Pavilion, opting for “Physical” by Olivia Newton John. Clad in a pink sweatband, Lawlor danced his way down the tunnel, proudly singing along to the '80s anthem.
In interviews, he has said his music choices are “off the wall,” but not so crazy they don’t fit with the fight’s theme. He injects some light-hearted fun into the UFC experience with his entrance music. After all, fighters are heading into the octagon to smash or be smashed; so a moment of levity before the brutality is often appreciated. Unfortunately for Lawlor, he didn’t have much time to get “Physical” with opponent Chris Weidman before going to sleep via a d’arce choke in the middle of the first round.
Another breath of fresh air in the UFC playlist was Kyle Kingsbury’s choice of ”Working For The Weekend” by Loverboy. Often going for '80s songs, he picked another entertaining one. Like Lawlor’s selection, it was playful yet pointed. Opening lines like, “Everyone’s watching, to see what you will do/Everyone’s looking at you,” signify the literal and figurative spotlight that is on fighters when they walk into the octagon. Though Kingsbury was working for the win in each of the three rounds, Stephan Bonnar was too much for him, as he dominated every round on his way to a unanimous decision victory.
Bonnar, who came out to his standard“Eminence Front” from The Who, kept things serious during his walk down the tunnel and during the fight. The iconic instrumental opening to this song gives it gravity and intensity. And the song talks of people hiding behind a façade, the echoing chorus of, “People forget,” reminding listeners not to fall prey to these boastful fronts. Bonnar took this message to heart and powered through three rounds, grinding down Kingsbury until the final bell.
Ryan Bader returned to his customary walk-in song, “Imperial March” by the London Symphony Orchestra and got his mojo back. He has typically used this tune to play off of his “Darth Bader” nickname, but strayed from it in his two previous fights, the only losses of his professional career. His return to the octagon and to his standard music was indeed triumphant, as he had a commanding victory over Jason Brilz with a knockout punch just over a minute into the first round.
Brilz came in to “Bro Hymm” by Pennywise, a song that is no stranger on UFC playlists. The intense punk rock song is the ultimate ode to one’s training team as it discusses the bonds of brothers going into battle. Though he came in confidently with his choice of song, Brilz was no match for the power of Bader’s strong right hand.
Despite entering to the Drake song “Headlines,” Nick Pace didn’t make any headlines of his own, at least not in a positive way. The staccato drum beat opening and supremely confident lyrics made for a solid walk-in choice, nonetheless. Lyrics like, “They know, they know, they know/That the real is on the rise,” certainly come off self-assured. Sadly for him, Pace’s performance in the octagon did not live up to Drake’s words, as he succumbed to Miguel Torres.
Torres opted for Vicente Fernandez’s song “El Rey.” The Spanish song’s upbeat mariachi feel made for a fun entrance tune, but the real power is in the lyrics. Paying tribute to his Mexican-American roots, Torres chose a song titled “The King.” Translated, the lyrics say, “I don’t have throne or queen/ Or anybody understanding me/ But I’m still the king.” They support the notion that, despite some losses in the past few years, the former WEC champ is still on top of his game. The closing lyrics, “You don’t have to arrive first/ But know how to arrive,” speak volumes to his career path as he notched another win, this one by unanimous decision.
Mauricio Rua also stuck with his traditional tune and came in to the trance number “Sail” by Dutch DJ and producer Armin van Buuren. The rapid-fire notes of the backbeat create layers of intensity as the lyric-less song builds in complexity. Rua has used the song for his entrances for the past three years and the anthemic qualities of the song proved to be emblematic of his amazing showdown with opponent Dan Henderson, which UFC president Dana White is already calling, “One of the top three best fights ever in MMA.”
For his return to the UFC, Henderson chose the country tune “Made in America” by Toby Keith. The intensely patriotic song seems more appropriate for a Fourth of July celebration, but definitely displayed Henderson’s national pride as he went up against Brazilian Rua. Henderson customarily comes in to Red Ryder’s “Lunatic Fringe”, but opted for this all-American anthem instead. The song lists images of the national pride, and after Henderson’s strong performance, his fans can certainly be proud of him.