Mixed Martial Arts

UFC 133 walk-in music: oddities and tributes to ‘Rocky’

Rashad Evans reacts at a UFC 133 light heavyweight fight at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. Evans defeated Tito Ortiz in the bout.
Suchat Pederson / AP

While it is too early to say the Cinderella story of Tito Ortiz is over, the fighter’s music choice at UFC 133 left some fans thinking just that. After an impressive career-saving victory over Ryan Bader at UFC 132, Ortiz’s star was certainly on the rise again after his first victory in nearly five years.

Opting for “Cinderella Man” by Eminem, Ortiz seemed to be making many statements with his song selection. The opening echoes the path Ortiz took to get this fight when both Jon Jones and his replacement Phil Davis pulled out due to injuries. Eminem chants, “You know, technically, I'm not even really supposed to be here right now/ So f*** it, might as well make the most of it.”

Lyrics like, “Feels good, guess I’m lucky” cast doubt upon the comeback, hinting that his last victory might have been more of a one-off victory, though he looked solid. Despite this, the underdog anthem seemed to show Ortiz’s gratefulness for the opportunity this fight offered him, even if he wasn’t able to fully capitalize on it. After a strong knee to the chest from Evans to end the fight, hopefully Ortiz didn’t swell up like a pumpkin at midnight.

Appropriately, Evans chose “Victory” by Notorious B.I.G. The violent lyrics coincide with the atmosphere of a fight and the title definitely states his game plan. Lyrics like, “I told y’all, 10 years from now we’ll still be on top/ We’ve just begun,” remind listeners that Rashad is eager to make another run at the belt and finally get his moment in the sun with Jon Jones.

Yoshihiro Akiyama’s traditional walk-in music didn’t serve him as well this time around. Though the impact of the operatic classical song “Time to Say Goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman has not lost its wow factor, it was his opponent Belfort who was figuratively waving goodbye to the Japanese fighter with a flurry of punches. Akiyama was knocked out in under two minutes.

Welterweight Brian Ebersole chose “Reflections” by Australian hip-hop group Bliss N Esso. The pensive lyrics of his fellow countrymen that state, “Well I’ve been running ‘round this globe for a couple of spins now” hearken back to Ebersole’s long fighting career. Despite 64 fights on his record, he is a relative newcomer to the UFC. The end of the song says, “Now watch me take the stage,” which is a politely reserved yet confident invitation from the UFC newbie and highly fitting for his entry into the octagon.

Ebersole gave both Dana White and his opponent Dennis Hallman a lot to “reflect” on with his come from behind victory. Hallman chose ”We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel. Hallman may have started the fight with fire but his flame burned out quickly after a flurry of punches and elbows from Ebersole near the end of the first round. The history lesson via a list of names and places that make up the lyrics to this song made it an odd choice but at least it was something well known to the crowd.

With the Philadelphia setting, it was inevitable that music from the Rocky films would make its way onto the airwaves at UFC 133. A UFC walk-in music staple, “Gonna Fly Now” by Bill Conti, better known as the Rocky theme, was selected by Mike Pyle. Rory MacDonald made sure Pyle didn’t fly too high as he earned a TKO victory in the first round.

Alexander Gustafsson had better luck with his Rocky IV choice, the “Training Montage” by Vince DiCola. The tune embodies upbeat ‘80s confidence boosters with its synthesizer heavy riffs and emphatic drumming. Gustafsson rode these beats to a victory over Matt Hamill in the second round.

Constantinos Philippou came out to “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake. This song is an interesting choice because the lyrics allude to the nature of one-on-one combat. Though a legion of trainers and coaches prepare fighters for battle, mixed martial arts is not a team sport. Lyrics like, “Here I go again on my own” indicate the solitary nature of fighting. The resolve of lyrics like, “And I’ve made up my mind/ I ain’t wasting no more time,” point out Philippou’s mission and career goals. After failing to make it into the house on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz and an earlier UFC loss this year, the Cyprus-born fighter has regained his footing.

Mike Pierce crossed sports lines and chose “Champions” by rapper and fellow athlete Ron Artest of the LA Lakers. Boastful lyrics like, “I specialize in things that can’t be done” and “’Cause in my heart, can’t nobody do it better” are fitting for a fighter but unfortunately for Pierce, he left the fight in the hands of the judges and came out on the losing end.

Pierce’s opponent Johny Hendricks went with the humorously titled “50 Dollars and a Flask of Crown" by Bleu Edmondson. The country singer bellows, “I stand for passion and I stand my ground/ Ain’t nothing gonna hold me down,” which is exactly what Hendricks portrayed when he went all three rounds against Pierce and eked out a split decision victory. Hopefully he got his flask of Crown and a little more than 50 dollars after his win.

Another oddball song last night was also a country track. Rafael Natal came out to “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. While the Grammy Award-winning song has its place on country radio, the plaintive song of lost love seemed very out of place as a fighter’s entrance music. Perhaps he was singing to victory letting it know he needed it because in the end, he did emerge triumphant over opponent Paul Bradley.

Closing out the unusual song selections was Nam Phan who opted for a techno remix version of “Axel F” from Beverly Hills Cop. Though his amusing song choice pleased the crowd, his efforts once inside the octagon were not enough to sway the judges and he lost by decision to Mike Brown.


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