Once the fighters enter the Octagon, UFC bouts are all about blood, holds and well-aimed fists, but sometimes their walk to the ring and the music that accompanies it is as interesting as the brawl itself.
While besting Yoshihiro Akiyama’s UFC 100 entrance to Andrea Bocelli’s “Time to Say Goodbye” would be tough, the walk in choices by UFC 101 fighters last night in Philadelphia featured a few gems worth mentioning.
The first bout of the evening pitted modern rap against a classic rock tune. Jesse Lennox walked out to Ram Jam’s “Black Betty,” while his opponent, Danillo Villefort, chose a T Pain and Mario rap, “All of the Above,” which proved to be partially prophetic. The song recaps a life of pain, sorrow and suffering where the protagonist emerges victorious. Villefort took the pain and punishment but couldn’t continue on to victory as the referee stopped the fight due to a cut over his eye.
Matthew Riddle answered the question “Too soon?” with a resounding “no,” as he chose to enter the Octagon to recently fallen pop star Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Opponent Dan Cramer marched in to Eminem’s “Go To Sleep,” but Riddle did not heed Slim Shady’s advice and miraculously emerged from a deep choke by Kramer in the first round to go on to win by unanimous decision.
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Like Tom Lawlor’s UFC 100 procession to “Who Let the Dogs Out?,” Alessio Sakara won the fun song of the night award with Smash Mouth’s “All Star.” The catchy sports anthem can’t help but make you smile or conjure up memories of sing-a-longs to the Shrek soundtrack. However, Sakara should have realized that Shrek and MMA go together about as well as Cool Whip and prime rib. The fighter didn’t live up to his soundtrack, eking out a split decision win over Thales Leites after a rather boring game of cat and mouse that elicited boos from the crowd.
Conversely, John Howard literally acted out the title of his entrance song, DMX’s “Here Comes the Boom,” as he body slammed Tamdan McCrory several times in the third round, earning him a split decision. McCroy gets points, though no victory, for choosing “Thunderhorse” from the Adult Swim animated series Metalocalypse. Guttural chants from the show’s animated band, Dethklok? Awesome. Trite sea of DMX and Eminem rap tunes? Not so much.
Bouncing in to Social Distortion’s “Ball and Chain,” a punk ballad espousing the pitfalls of alcohol abuse and hard times, was Ricardo Almeida. Then classic punk made way for classic rock as Johny Hendricks rocked his way in to the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black.” His opponent, Amir Sadollah, entered to a mysterious tune (possibly traditional Iranian music) that vaguely echoed the sounds of gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello. His fight had an equally curious outcome when referee Dan Miragliotta called an early stop to the fight when Sadollah was clearly attempting to get up after what might have appeared to be a flash knockout.
Hometown fighter Forrest Griffin walked in to his usual Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping up to Boston.” However, like his impressive fight record, it was Griffin’s opponent who outshone the rest of the group with his apt choice of walk in music. The dominant Anderson Silva confidently shimmied his way down the tunnel to a DMX cover of Bill Withers’ classic bluesy soul tune “Ain’t No Sunshine.” And there was no sunshine for Griffin, who was picked off in the first round.
In the main event, BJ Penn defended his title against Kenny Florian. Walking out to an instrumental Hawaiian song that evoked the calm collected demeanor of the lightweight champ, Penn helped erase memories of his loss to Georges St. Pierre as he re-established his dominance last night. Despite trying to predict the outcome of the fight by entering to Ghostface Killah’s “The Champ,” Florian could not defeat the reigning lightweight champ.