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Wednesday, Mar 20, 2002

No Problems Making Weight For Ufc 36

No Problems Making Weight for UFC 36
By Jim Genia

      The weigh-ins for the Ultimate Fighting Championship 36: Worlds Collide took place at the MGM Grand today, and it was more than the usual fanfare. Studio 54 was packed — both with mixed martial arts enthusiasts and international media. Joe Rogan, comedian and host of
"Fear Factor", kept the crowd laughing. Japanese hero Hayato Sakurai, making his UFC debut, took the stage and the flashbulbs were nearly blinding. With cash, tickets, and merchandise on the line, three contestants assumed the roles of their favorite fighters and battled it out via the UFC Tapout game. And after it was all over, a couple took the plunge and got married, exchanging their vows in the Octagon. It was more than the usual weigh-in fanfare — and it was a blast.

Randy Couture (left) and Josh Barnett pose with ring card girls

      Cutting weight seemed to be no problem for the fighters on the card. Welterweight champion Matt Hughes was extremely ripped at 169. Quiet yet intimidating, challenger Sakurai was 170. There were no staredowns, with these competitors nor all the others. Instead, they posed with their arms around the ring card girls and exchanged friendly smiles.
      Champ Randy Couture weighed in at 226 pounds, while challenger Josh Barnett was 243 pounds. Respectful and amiable, both fighters soaked up the applause that was showered upon them.
      Pedro Rizzo, another fan favorite, was 237 pounds. His opponent, Andrei Arlovski, tipped the scales at 242 pounds. Local Las Vegas fighter Frank Mir and Lion’s Den icon Pete Williams were 250 and 225 pounds respectively.
      Newcomer to the lightweight division Matt "the Terror" Serra came in at 153 pounds. "Psycho Kelly" Dullanty, intense and focused, was 154 pounds.
      In the welterweight division, Sean Sherk weighed in at 169 pounds, while Jutaro Nakao was 170. Filling out the roster, middleweight contenders Matt "the Law" Lindland and Pat "the Croation Sensation" Miletich were 184 and 183 pounds, and light-heavyweights Elvis Sinosic and Evan Tanner were 203 and 198 pounds.
Chuck Liddell and Carlos Newton
      A digital Jeremy Horn (courtesy of an X-Box plugged into a giant screen television) knocked out every opponent he faced. Lucky fan Ryan Baumgardner chose the role of Horn, and with the real light-heavyweight fighter Jeremy Horn standing behind him, Baumgardner managed to defeat Rogan and win $500. "I don’t have time to play video games," quipped Rogan. "I have a hit TV show and a life!"
      Fans patient enough to wait in line received free autographed posters. Present for autograph signing were lightweight champ Jens Pulver and top light-heavyweight contender Chuck Liddell, as well as superstar Carlos Newton, Gil Castillo, and Ricco Rodriguez. As always, Zuffa made it worth while for those in attendance.
      Capping it all off, Mike Camp and Laryssa Schroeder tied the knot in the Octagon set up in the MGM Grand Arena. Two obvious UFC fanatics, they exchanged their vows while workers paused to watch. Pat Miletich – one-time trainer of Camp – was the best man. With the quintessential crucible of combat made the setting for this ceremony of holy matrimony, it was the perfect example of when "Worlds Collide."

Mike Camp and Laryssa Schroeder wed inside the Octagon

      Joe Rogan on the microphone. Jeremy Horn knocking out Eugene Jackson and Tito Ortiz. A wedding. There were no problems making weight for UFC 36. Will "Worlds Collide" be as much of a blast?

The Way of the Day
By Loretta Hunt

Randy and Mo
Wednesday, March 20th — With only two days left till UFC 36, the pace is starting to pickup on the lower floors below the MGM Grand Casino and Hotel. This is where Zuffa has set up its offices for the week and today’s agenda is a full one for the small yet efficient team that will put on a show for approximately ten thousand hungry fans this Friday. Scheduled today are the usual pre-fight interviews that will be seen prior to the fighter’s entrances, photo shoots, and promos being shot by In Demand and Direct TV for future advertising broadcasts. As the sixteen competitors make their way down to this area in the morning and into the early afternoon, they are juggled between the various rooms to accomplish these tasks, stopping at times in the hallway to gab with one another. Pat Miletich greets Elvis Sinosic with a handshake and a smile. Randy Couture stops to playfully jab with the two, as Andre Arlovski respectively nods to them as he passes by. The topic of conversation? Mostly small talk and catching up from the last show, yet almost all comment on the urgency to get their fights over and done with.

Among the usual press figures here to cover the event, there are some welcome new faces. The ESPN Channel is here to document Randy Couture and Josh Barnett for an upcoming hour installment of its popular show "Outside The Lines" that they hope to air in June. On the heels of its broadcast deal with Zuffa, WOWWOW, the Japanese subscriber-based cable station (similar to HBO), has also made the trip over and a pack of journalists follow Hayato Sakurai’s move from room to room. At one point, Couture and Barnett are whisked off for a radio appearance at local sports talk radio station KBAD. Back at Ricardo Pire’s gym, local boy Frank Mir [pictured] is interviewed for a segment on News 13- Inside Las Vegas, an ABC affiliate.

Frank Mir being interviewed for local TV show
In the arena itself, the Octagon has not been erected yet, but a group of workers furiously work away on light grids and platforms. Across the hallway, Zuffa’s headquarters is a buzz of phones and faxes. Dana White stands in the corner, telephone to one ear, his right arm raised to direct a worker to a floor plan hanging on the wall. With an entirely new production team in place, the anticipation reads plainly on his face. The broadcast will have a different look on Friday and he wonders how it will fair with the public.

As the sun sets on the Las Vegas strip and the infamous casino lights start to appear, the fighters go off to get in their evening training sessions. Besides the equipped training rooms provided, many fighters make their way to UFC veteran John Lewis’s facility, minutes away from the hotel. An impressive two-floor training complex complete with mats, a sparring area, and even a cage — its too good an opportunity for these fighters to pass up. Matt Lindland and Pete Williams practice their clinch work in the cage while just feet away on the ground, Matt Hume rolls with Pride veteran Dan Henderson. In the cleared area used for sparring, various couples box and kick. Ricco Rodriguez, Marvin Eastman, Quentin Jackson, and Phil Baroni all take their turns with Maurice Smith, who stops them occasionally to give pointers and guidance. Randy Couture seems to be everywhere at once — sparring in the cage and then outside of it with various opponents or even just hitting the punching bag off on his own. And in the corner, watching Randy’s every move, is Josh Barnett! Josh yells across the space for Randy to try this move or that move, and one almost forgets that these two will be battling their hearts out against one another in two short days. Animosity does not exist here — just a group of fighters willing to share and learn with little cares for who is fighting who or what camp so and so comes from.

And so goes Wednesday, March 20th. Two more days before "Worlds Collide." The day has gone quickly, as it usually tends to do in the days and hours leading up to that completely unique experience known as the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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