In a night of possible career-ending and career-saving fights, the music fighters chose at UFC 132 seemed of extra importance as many came singing and dancing out of the tunnel at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Lightweight fighter Melvin Guillard bounced out to the appropriately titled ”Blow Up” by J.Cole. The song worked on two levels as the title points to explosive aggression and the fact that his career is blowing up. After a knockout victory over Shane Roller, Guillard can literally say, “Yeah, you got me feeling like the greatest.”
Shane Roller came out to the unfortunately titled ”Dr. Carter” by Lil’ Wayne. It was unfortunate because a doctor is precisely what he needed when Guillard knocked him out in the first round. The song positions rapper Lil’ Wayne as a doctor who helps patients who have lost their rap flow, teaching them better techniques. Ironically, it was Guillard who was teaching the clinic inside the octagon, one on powerful knockout blows.
German fighter Dennis Siver chose ”Last Resort” by Papa Roach. The opening lyrics are a little ominous for a fight: “Suffocation/ No Breathing/ Don’t give a f**k if I cut my arm bleeding.” It then goes on to say, “I’m running and I’m crying/… nothing’s alright.” The song doesn’t appear to be the best motivational song except for the fact that it gives off an “I don’t care” vibe, perhaps insinuating no fear for the impending battle in the octagon. Whatever was behind Siver’s song choice, he had to be happy and perhaps shocked when his “Last Resort” and last ditch efforts in the very end of the fight proved enough for him to eek out a decision victory over Matt Wiman.
Wiman opted for the plaintive ”All Around Me” by Flyleaf. Like the whiney tone of his walk-in music, the judges’ decision against him in the incredibly close fight gave Wiman plenty to grumble about. The chorus of “I’m alive/ I’m alive” seems like Wiman is crying out to be noticed and definitely rang true after the controversial decision when many fans wondered if the judges had been watching the same fight. This was yet another case supporting the idea that fighters cannot leave decisions in the hands of the judges.
Appropriate for the desert climate of Las Vegas, Wanderlei Silva came out to his traditional ”Sandstorm” by DJ Darude. The lyric-less club anthem is a classic pump-you-up jam that goes well with Silva’s trademark laced finger hand movement. Unfortunately for Silva, he found himself in the center of a sandstorm of his own when Chris Leben’s uppercuts dropped him to the mat in what may have been his last fight in the octagon.
Leben, known for his multi-colored hair on fight nights, went with a fun song that matched his wild hair and his up and down career over the years. Opting for ”Love Rollercoaster” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, Leben came in with a fun crowd-pleaser. The song says, “Licorice twist gonna whip you’re a**” but it could have been strawberry shortcake instead as Leben with his bright red hair certainly did some whipping of his own. His 27-second victory proved to be the shortest rollercoaster ride ever for Silva.
Ryan Bader came out to ”99 Problems” by Hugo, rather than the original Jay Z version. This country-influenced version of the popular rap song was an especially fun choice with the banjo and tambourine in the background adding layers of complexity. Coming off a loss to UFC golden boy Jon Jones, Bader hoped to re-establish his place in the light heavyweight division. His submission loss erased the hope of that and proved he may or may not have 99 problems, but Tito Ortiz was definitely one of them.
Ortiz knew he was fighting to save his career and danced down the tunnel energetically while emotionally singing along to his walk-in choice of Eminem’s ”Not Afraid”. Chanting along with the rapper’s lyrics, “Yeah, it’s been a ride/ I guess I had to go to that place to get to this one,” Ortiz had a look of steely determination in his eyes like a man on a mission. Having not won a fight since 2006, this was a make-it-or-break-it fight for him. Coming out to “Not Afraid” when your entire career is on the line is quite a statement, one Ortiz could back up after his guillotine choke led to a victory over Bader.
Bantamweight belt holder Dominick Cruz came out singing the lyrics to Maino’s ”Remember My Name”. WEC fans certainly remembered his name, and that of his opponent Urijah Faber who is the only loss on his otherwise spotless record. After the WEC and UFC merger, it was unlikely fight fans were unfamiliar with his name but after a five round battle that earned the fight of the night bonus, everybody will certainly remember the champ’s name. The lyrics say, “Block and guard my spot,” and Cruz did just that as he guarded his title with a decision victory over Faber.
The “California Kid” Urijah Faber walked in to his traditional and fitting ”California Love” by Tupac and Dr. Dre. The crowd was clearly behind the challenger as they cheered loudly during his entrance. Faber may have gotten a lot of love from the crowd but he got no Nevada love from the judges, especially the one who inexplicably scored the close fight 50-45 in favor of Cruz.