HAIL HAIL FORUM OF FORUMS BOOMERS GOT A TALE TO TELL!!! Yet another page has been written in this chapter of the country sages life and what a glorious ride this is turning out to be.
To start I flew in to Detroit early Tuesday because I had some scouting to do. I wanted to get there before matt and crew so I could have everything in the works for matt's after party and meal for after the weigh ins. The weigh in meal was particular important and vital to my health and reputation. Most of you know that in Oakland the restaurant we ate at after weigh ins was just awful. This meal is particularly important because it's the fuel that starts normalizing the body again after starving it for the days leading up to the event. For matt, whole wheat pasta , grilling chicken breast, mild marinara meat sauce. In Oakland we didn't have a van, we couldn't venture far from the hotel by UFC direction and the number of places to eat that could provide what matt needed was very slim … so that was my case. But, however strong the case was .. I still hold the badge of shame in getting a place to eat that probably hurt matt more than help him. So verbatim the txts leading up to me flying to Detroit was this:
matt : Where r we eating after the weigh-ins???
Boomer: Have three places to check out
matt: Lets hope YOU redeem yourself buddy …
So I fly into Motown and check out a few places. Got food samples and what not and the best place was right next to matt's hotel. They got whole wheat pasta for matt for a special dish and would hold an open reservation for us .. meaning that if we had a reservation for 5:30 and didnt get there until 6 it wouldn't matter. They would hold that part of the restaurant for 25 people until we got there. So the next day the txt went something like:
Boomer: Papa Vino's
my friend, redemption is MINE!!
matt: We will just have to wait and see brother …
Boomer: Got food samples from the manager got an open ended area for 25 people and its walking distance from ur hotel
matt: sounds great buddy. Ur the man!!!! …... if the foods alright that is.
Boomer: haha, well hopefully it will suite ur delicate pallet … if not you can arm bar me.
matt: Don't worry about me. I will just sick Robbie, Jeremy, Pena and Jens on you
Boomer: whaaa … well..... ok then ….
I also got a call from Audra, matt's wife concerned about the meal.
After some talking and filling her in on the situation:
Audra: “Ok Boomtown, but if it's bad .. I'm going to start crying.”
So the scenario i'm in is
1)The food is good and all is right with the world
2)The food is bad, matt doesn't get what he needs to get his body strong again, Audra starts crying in the middle of the restaurant and I get drug out in back and get raped by some of the most skilled, powerful and ruthless fighters on planet earth.
The next place I checked out was the bar for matt's after party. I did some snooping around online and also asked some folks I knew who were from the area. The Post Bar
came up because it was walking distance from the venue and they had a party loft and were known for throwing a good “post” event party. So I started chating with the managers on possibly getting matt in there for his after party. They were already talking with another fight camp on hosting their after party there, but once they heard matt hughes wanted the party loft that quickly ended their talk with the other fight camp. The loft would hold 55 to 60 folks, it would be controlled access with wrist bands and the club would cover the food. When I met with the manager Carl, he was a HUGE MMA fan and loved matt and Robbie and Jens and Jeremy. He was so excited to have these guys at the club. I was expecting the after party food to be something like cheese sticks, wings, meatballs and the like … no not Carl .. he was the head chef. I told him to surprise us so he slow cooked a pork roast for 13 hours , made venison stew from a deer he shot a couple weeks back and when I told him matt like sushi he also made a honey glazed salmon with a side of rice and had salad and fruit and vegetable trays. Plus he gave matt and his corner a $500 bar credit.
Man this city was so much easier than Oakland. They loved the fight game.
I did all my recon work just in time for matt and his crew to arrive from the Airport. I met him in the lobby and exchanged smiles and bumps. His “bump” caused the half empty non-fat, no whip grande mocha I was carrying to come pouring out over my hand. Sometimes I wish I would have gotten into sports ….
They rush matt off into the UFC operation .. checking in, getting schedules … matt gets his room, pena and robbie get their room and they all get settled. Everyone is hungry so again keeping with the norm we find a sushi restaurant right across the street from the hotel .. actually I had a sushi restaurant plugged into the GPS and as we where pulling out Robbie spots the place right across the street. I had my first sushi experience with matt in New York almost exactly a year ago around this time. I had just gotten back from Afghanistan and met him at the mma expo there and I really did enjoy the sushi there .. the sushi in Oakland ….. not so much. I got pretty sick after eating it there. So I was 1 in 1 with my raw fish experience. This one turned out to be a win though. It was really good.
The camp had their first roll that night. 3 rounds rolling with Robbie , 3 rounds throwing with Pena … Brian Foster was fighting on this card too so he had a host of buddies from the gym to help him get ready for his epic battle with matt brown. The Hughes camp was out in force. So twice a day they met and clashed in preparation for for the big show. I love seeing matt with the younger fighters. Pretty much after every practice it turned into an hour or more of old battle stories … those life events that make us who we are … some proud moments … some … well they are what teach us the importance of boundaries. Haha …. but all good times. matt, Robbie and Pena tell old stories of how it was back in the day before the UFC legitimized the sport, old stories from the Miletich camp … people telling on each other. Haha .. yeah good stories all round.
The next day matt and I headed to a press conference at the Detroit Athletic Club
a very exclusive club that is known for helping numerous Olympic athletes and has a 25 yard swimming pool, a bowling alley, a large gym with veiws of Comerica Park and just about anything you can mention with regards to sports. matt and I were waiting in the lobby and were asked to go up to the locker room because the front area was suite and tie only. Matt asked the UFC PR gal Jennifer why they had this here and she said it was a huge nod at the UFC. MMA has been scrutinized as a “brutal” sport or barbaric in many circles that are considered academic. To have such an exclusive place more or less nod a the UFC to allow a press conference there was a huge step in breaking stereo types associated with mixed martial arts.
That night we all went to see the movie “unstoppable” even though one of the young fighters from matt's gym said it was bad. He said .. “It's just about a train the whole time.”
Well .. it was one of the best movies I've seen in a long time, and yes … the whole movie was about a train.
That week we also saw “Due Date” and “The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia”. Due Date had some funny parts … the other movie was a documentary of a family in West Virginia whose last name was White. That had funny parts, but it also made me a little sad. To see people live like that justs gets to me. If you watch something like that and just see the aspect of how crazy and ridiculous it is you can laugh .. but to know that is real and people are caught in lifes like that .. I just wish I could help them somehow. Especially the kids.
We also saw another movie while there … matt had his son Brandon there, which was really nice to get to meet him. He is a great kid … buuuut he did choose a REALLY bad movie. Haha … We went and saw the newest Harry Potter movie. I saw two other of the Potter movies and they were ok … but this one … not so much. No one liked it .. even Brandon. Hahaha .. he took the rap on the way home for picking it to which he denies to this day.
I stayed with matt two of the nights I was there and when Jeremy Horn got there I moved over to my hotel. The morning of the weigh ins I went over to matts room to get him up to check his weight. We walk down to the official scale and he was only 2.5 over. Awesome. matt does his work out with plastics on this time and sheds the weight like it was nothing. Once he and his corned head over to the weigh ins I meet up with some of the forum members I hadn't seen yet. Chuck, VCU, Llama, Nater, SteveT ….. it was good to see my cyber pals again.
After the weigh ins … well it was eating time. Would I be around to see the fights .. or would I be in a mangled pretzel in a ditch somewhere … Audra drove in from Hillsboro with a few friends and her brother Drew. And … well I'm here to tell this tale so hopefully I did have my redemption. Haha .. Jason the manager of Papa Vino's really did go out of his way. He also loved matt and his wait staff fought over who got to wait on matt. One of our waiters named Matt was a big fan of our matt and the country sage ended up getting a couple of tickets for him.
The night before the fights I wanted to turn in early because the next night would be an all nighter. The after party would go until 2:00am and I had to leave for the Airport at 4:00am. I hadn't slept much that week anyway so I was going to pop a couple of sleeping pills and force it on me. I left matt and crew at their second dinner at our sushi place round 9:00 and went over to meet Mark and Emily at the Hilton where I was staying. They were staying there too and I had their room keys. Well all the forum members were at the bar so needless to say I didn't get to bed early that night. I caught up with Mark and Emily and the rest of the gang and met for the first time SteveT!! He and his fiancée are just great people. I wish I had some more time to get to know them a bit better. It was really good to talk with llama too .. and chuck .. VCUramfan …. it was like old home coming. All those loyal to matt for years now.
Well this takes us to fight day. I go and eat breakfast with matt and Audra and Mark, Emily Drew, Scott and his lovely wife and the crew that drove up with Audra from Hillsboro. Later that day is when we saw The Harry Potter movie, but before that we went to go walk around the mall the theater was attached too. matt was getting stopped and pointed at everywhere. I had to turn a few people away to get matt to the movie.
After the movie we head back to the hotel. I sit with matt and a few folks for a bit and then it's time to go. I give matt a hug and make my way to the event.
We all know what happened. I've gotten so many txt and e-mails about the fight asking how matt is and is he thinking about retiring because of what he said after the fight and such things like that. I just tell them I don;t know and I don't think matt knows. I love it when matt wins … I get choked up because I know how hard he trained and how much competition means to him .. but to experience the thrill of winning you also taking the chance of the feelings associated with losing. One thing I noticed with matt in all these events I go to with him is that he and his friends .. the athletes that have been with him for years, love telling stories and can recount them as if they happened yesterday. But with all of them .. who they fount when .. how they won …. what their record is is always hazy. One night after the guys got done rolling around we were all sitting around for story time and matt started talking to the young fighters. He said a reporter one time asked him when he looked back on this part of his life, what would he value most about this time. It wasn't the fame, it wasn't the belts .. his answer was the relationships. The times he had with his buddies, the stories that were crafted as they traveled the world to fight in a cage. He looked at those young fighters and said this is your time, make some memories.
Do I wish matt would have won .. yea .. of course. I want the very best for him. But, in the long run .. I think maybe the time he got to spend with old friends like Robbie Lawler, Matt Pena, Jeremy Horn, Jens Pulver, the time he got to spend with his wife and son Brandon … the people that flew or drove from all over the US and Canada to show their love and support for him, that honestly has nothing to do with him having his hand raised at the end of a fight ... will be more lasting memories than any other single moment he could have experienced at UFC 123 in Detroit Michigan.
Til next time my forum friends … this is Boomtown signing off.