Looking back at Fuel TV 2: The UFC Fan ExperiencePosted on April 18, 2012, 09:09 AM by Anton Gurevich
This weekend, Jon Jones and Rashad Evans will finally meet inside the Octagon, in what could be easily labeled as one of the most anticipated fights in UFC history. But before we get to Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time to look back at UFC on Fuel TV 2, headlined by the Light Heavyweight showdown between Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson and Thiago Silva. Yours truly was at the Ericsson Globe. Yours truly was in Stockholm, Sweden, to report from the venue.
Swedish fans welcomed the UFC to Stockholm with a great atmosphere three days before the fight night. Most of those fans attended a live UFC event for the first time in their lives. It was interesting to see their excitement, and at some point a relief that finally, the Ultimate Fighting Championship was in their backyard.
No less than 2,000 fans gathered for Tito Ortiz’s Q&A at Globen Arena, and around 4,000 for the official weigh-ins. In fact, the organizers had to open the balcony seats to make sure every fan in the queue gets his piece of action.
During the Q&A, fans thanked Tito Ortiz for his illustrious MMA career, and asked “to f—k Forrest Griffin up” at UFC 147. I think this was one of the warmest receptions Tito Ortiz has ever experienced in his career. Ortiz enjoyed every moment of it; he gave away tickets to fans, and shared some inspirational stories.
This great atmosphere continued at the weigh-ins. The arena exploded like it was already a fight night. It’s interesting to note that the debutant Reza “Mad Dog” Madadi got most of the cheers, which visibly fired-up the Swedish-Iranian fighter. Madadi would later improve his MMA record to 12-2 with a 2nd round RNC victory over Yoislandy Izquierdo. Fans didn’t boo anyone, including those competing against Swedish fighters, except the main eventer Thiago Silva.
It’s easily understandable, since Silva was out there to steal the glory from Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson, Swedish golden boy who has already surpassed Joachim Hansen as the most popular Scandinavian fighter to ever compete in Mixed Martial Arts. UFC on Fuel TV 2 was Alexander Gustafsson’s moment, and he truly backed-up the hype with a convincing victory over Silva.
Fans showed up in heavy snow for an autograph signing session with BJ Penn, Tito Ortiz, Cheick Kongo, and Jake Shields. The queue was seen from two stations away, the weather was absolutely terrible, but none of the fans turned their back and went home. The UFC PR representatives had to speed-up the process (from what I understand, the queue was later cut in half), so around 1,000 fans queuing for an autograph session in a small MMA store (Jabb.se) could get few seconds with their idols.
The class shown by Swedish fans during this whole weekend is something that has to be noted. They showed respect for every single one of the fighters participating in the event, including those who fought and defeated their local heroes. Even the boos for James Head seemed a little bit forced in comparison to the amount of taunting he did after defeating Papy Abedi. The only “extreme” was the chant “break his face” to Alexander Gustafsson during his fight with Thiago Silva. Oh well…
European fans in general, are very passionate about Mixed Martial Arts. They are loyal to this sport, and would follow the fighters wherever. As noted by Marshall Zelaznik, they would have no problem attending an event at midnight. When it comes to international UFC events, there are a lot of variables, such as TV deals, time difference, suitable arenas, local regulatory systems… Make no mistake about it, UFC on Fuel TV 2 was one of the best cards in recent memory, but personally, I think it’s about time we see another PPV-level card in Europe. The fans deserve it.