On November 4, Bellator brought their traveling carnival of MMA into the Mohegan Sun Arena, in Uncasville, CT. It was a night where my fledgling journalistic journey would be embraced (for the first time) by big-league mixed martial arts. And the likes of Phil Davis, Liam McGeary and a host of other talents would make it a night to remember for the devotees in attendance.
Friday night was my first foray into being a credentialed press member for a major MMA show. So my excitement was palpable. It was subdued though, as I admired the massive splendor of the Mohegan Sun casino. Its impressive looking and mirrors any notable casino in the country—including that smell of cigarettes and senior citizen perfume wafting over from the slot machines.
After a lengthy walk to the arena, and a stop at the box office to get my press pass, I made my way to press row. I have to say, as a youngling in this game (and a long-time fan) there are few things more cool than asking, “Excuse me, which way is press row?” This is only topped by reaching your seat, seeing your name on the table, and having the fellow sitting behind you get a bit booty-hurt over someone they don’t recognize having a better seat than them. It’s cause for an inner fist pump moment.
Some knock the spectacle of a “tent-pole” Bellator show because it isn’t like the UFC. I for one have never subscribed to that thinking. I love it, and in person its even better. The lights, the music (with base that thuds through your chest), and the grandiose stage give you a side of glamour with your serving of fisticuffs.
It’s the right kind of presentation to pair up with a Scott Coker promoted event. Ever since his days as the head of Strikeforce, Coker can always be expected to give exciting finishes, trash talking vets, and blue-chip prospects on the rise. All of those elements were on display Friday night.
These prelims were special because two of the newly dubbed “Fab Five” made their MMA and promotional debuts. Ed Ruth and Tyrell Fortune–along with Aaron Pico, Jarod Trice and Joey Davis—are part of a quintet of elite collegiate wrestlers signed by the promotion. The hope is that they will be the foundation of the company for years to come. And for a man that found, and nurtured, MMA superstars like Daniel Cormier, Tyron Woodley and Ronda Rousey, we should take Coker’s word for it, and keep an eye on them.
Each man faced another fighter debuting professionally. Both men won their debuts. And both won by technical knockout in the opening frame. They were also both in attendance at the post-fight press conference, showing Bellator’s high hopes for the pair.
However, their success differed. Ruth was up first and found that MMA can be a bit dicey, as he was stunned, and put on his butt, early in the round. Ruth would mention at the post-fight press conference he heard a ringing in his ears and thought, “he’s still right there, and there’s not two of them, so I’m going to attack that guy.” And that’s exactly what he did. He used his national championship winning wrestling and took the fight to where he was comfortable. Though he did not beat his opponent—Dustin Collins-Miles—into submission, referee Kevin MacDonald mercifully ended the bout, handing Ruth a major step forward in a promising career.
Continue reading the rest of this story at mmasucka.com
I was able to attend the post-fight press conference and some questions to the new champ and Bellator president Scott Coker. Check out my questions starting at the 24:20 mark.