There are many who may not believe this, but it’s been over two years since I was last credentialed to cover a UFC event. And today, here I am, in Buffalo, NY covering UFC 210: Cormier vs. Johnson II and it feels like I haven’t missed a beat.
When I was finally given the ‘green light’ by the UFC PR staff that I would be granted the luxury of covering the event, I experienced opposing emotions and conflicting thoughts. I was part surprised and part angry, but then became nervous because I was stepping into a new world of MMA coverage-- a different type than I’ve done in the past, under a new regime at the UFC and to be honest, I did not know what to expect.
Heck, I’m used to boarding planes and flying around the continent (sometimes the globe) to cover a UFC event. It’s the first time I’ve driven more than 10 minutes to get to the media workouts. In fact, it was a near 3 hour drive from my home to the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, and truth be told, I sincerely enjoyed the drive.
When I arrived at the venue, I made my way inside and met fellow Fightful teammate, Brandon, who was as cool and calm as can be. My head and emotions were racing as I saw some familiar faces in the media, who I will admit, were far more surprised to see me. Yes, I did laugh inside but sometimes you just have to let bygones be bygones.
Brandon and I eventually made our way to the UFC 210 Media Day location and set-up shop, waiting for the fighters to show up and talk about their upcoming bouts. But for me, it’s always been more about their bouts and more about them and their mindset.
I often try not to ask the same questions to each and every fighter or questions they have already answered many times before. Yes, the questions about what to expect on Saturday night are a given, but thankfully at Fightful, we cover more than just MMA, so Brandon was able to throw in some Wrestlemania questions dispersed with my MMA thoughts with each party we spoke with.
On a professional level, we were able to get some fantastic content for the website but on a personal level, things nearly got very emotional for me.
There’s one thing for some of the fighters to look at me as an old familiar face they haven’t seen in quite some time, but there’s a whole other feeling when they break from their rhythm to stand-up or reach out to shake my hand.
That familiar smile and smirk from Daniel Cormier easily made me feel like I was at home. Anthony Johnson flat out stopping and saying “My MAN!!” put it all into perspective. Patrick Cote and I joking about being overdressed and Thiago Alves and I talking about Miami put it all into perspective.
No matter how long you may be missing from this game, there are always those who will make you feel like you were missed much more than you could ever possibly imagine.
While I wrote this from a grateful state of mind, I have once again fallen back to how much I appreciate what these fighters do for us and how much winning means to them. Today, you could easily see it in their eyes and in their body language. They are hungry for victory, yearning to get into a cage to prove they are the better man or woman than their opponent. The struggle is real, and they are still three days away.
Throughout this week, I will be giving updates via the Fightful MMA Podcast, so feel free to come join us live and send me your questions, comments and suggestions during the live chat. I will do my best to get to all of them and also potentially bring them up to some of the fighters I come across and let you all know their answers.
As always, the podcast is just one of many options. You can always reach me online, via social media anytime, via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram - the handle: @ShowdownJoe