We represented at BAMMA 6 last weekend, managing to score some pretty sweet kind-of-ringside tickets.
The day started off inauspiciously. I ordered a ticket from central London, where I was staying, to Wembley. The pimply-faced attendant nervously handed me my ticket and explained the route. He didn’t make eye contact.
“Get off at Baker Street and change to the Metropolitan line.”
A squeaky throatclear for good measure.
Sounds easy, I thought.
I arrive at Baker Street, get off and listen to the announcer who says that the entire Metropolitan line is pretty much cancelled for the weekend.
Great. My alternative route resembles a strip of wet spaghetti that somebody sneezed out of their nose.
PLUS I have to get a bus for the last leg of the journey.
This, clearly, sucks balls.
Through the grimey, dingey tunnels that snake beneath the city, emerging bleary eyed and transferring to an old, smelly bus – the windows rattling in their frames – I eventually arrive at the majestic Wembley Stadium. And, at the not so majestic Wembley Arena which squats next door.
The scene outside is somewhat surreal. The smell of pot fills the air, as do the strange sounds of 80s pop music being played from an unidentified loudspeaker somewhere. The crowd is a mix of shirted casuals with short, gelled hair and pierced ears, big boned men in suits with scars on their bright red necks posing for photos with each other, MMA fans of all shapes and sizes. Tapout tees. Biceps. Loud voices.
We walk into the arena and straight away I spot Michael “The Voice” Schiavello. Before I have a chance to get nervous or starstruck, I go to shake his hand and we get a picture. What a nice guy, and the best commentator in the business.
We are shown to our seats which end up being right at the front and just a few metres from the cage. This is a welcome surprise.
First impressions are that the arena seats a lot of people, and that it is half empty. Music plays way too loud. People stand and mill about.
The Rua brothers are here. Ninja is fighting, and they are both supporting the other Brazilians on the card. They come out and walk towards the ring. I take bad, poorly-lit photos of them.
The fights are pretty good, and the crowd gets gradually more vocal.
Frank Trigg wins via a cut in the first round, and then gives a 10 minute speech afterwards. His trainer looks like he wants to fight him, giving him some really aggressive praise. YEAH. FUCK YEAH. THAT’S WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. FUCK.
Ivan Salaverry came out of retirement for his fight, but sadly many of the crowd feel he shouldn’t have bothered.
The final fight of the night, between Tom Watson and Ninja Rua, is intense, and makes the whole night worth while. Watson gives an epic beatdown to the fading legend, with low kicks, high kicks, and a restrained final barrage. He shows the caution and level-headedness that is customary of the Jackon camp, while the audience bays for Ninja’s blood, Watson holds off until just the right moment to deliver the final blows.
We make a sharp exit in order to catch a train.
I had been worried about encountering trouble on the tubes and buses late at night. Turns out, even at almost midnight, most of the trains in London are full of middle aged couples on their way home from a restaurant or the theatre. The most trouble I encountered was a drunken and mildly retarded old Scottish man waving his walking stick at a wall and ranting against the London Underground and other oppressors.