Join QuintEvents Sales Executives Steve Ellis and Craig Flint as they recount their first UFC trip to UFC 165.
We landed in Canada on Thursday afternoon and headed to the Shangri La Hotel where our first experience of UFC 165 began! On the third floor of the hotel we walked out to a buffet of hors d’oeuvres, soft drinks, and water. After checking in, we walked into the next room with three stages set up and media from all around the world awaiting the arrival of the fighters.
On the right side of the room there were three chairs lined up for the challengers; Eddie Wineland, Matt Mitrione, and Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson. Lined up across from their challengers sat Renan Barao, Brendan Shaub, and, the defending light heavyweight champion of the world, Jon “Bones” Jones. As soon as they touched their seats media rushed to begin asking their questions.
It Feels Good to be a VIP
Because of our UFC VIP access, we could walk right up to one of the six fighters and be literally within an arm’s length of UFC fighters. It was an unbelievable experience to be so close and see each personality come out through their answers.
After the media interviews, the fighters headed to the back to get ready for face-offs. The face-offs began with Mitrione and Shaub up on stage. They were buds on the reality TV show The Ultimate Fighter, but you wouldn’t know it as throughout the weekend they were throwing out trash talk left and right!
Next, interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao and Eddie Wineland stepped on stage. Barao looked calm and focused as Wineland had his eyes set on Barao’s belt. Finally, Jon Jones stepped up on stage and had a little fun of his own as he snapped pictures of his competitor Alexander Gustafsson.
To end the event on Thursday, UFC CEO Dana White came out from the back to sit center stage gaining the attention of all the cameras and recorders in the room. We couldn’t believe we were right next to him! It was great hearing him tell interesting stories that he experienced throughout the years being around all of the different fighters.
Weigh-Ins and Meeting the Fighters!
On Friday afternoon, we arrived at the Air Canada Center for UFC 165’s official weigh-ins. Upon arrival, we checked in and received our official VIP passes to get right up next to the stage for the event. This event was open to the public, so being able to sit in chairs without being crowded was a huge bonus!
Before the actual weigh-ins began, we were escorted to a tent where we hung out with Chris Weidman, the UFC Middleweight Champion of the world. We took some pictures with him and got his autograph, and actually got to speak with him for a few minutes (nuts!). Then, he went up on stage to entertain everyone with a Q and A session.
Once Chris was done, the official weigh-ins began. We quickly discovered who were crowd-favorites (and who weren’t!) as cheers and boos filled the air along with the fighter’s choice of walk-out music. Everyone was being cool and respectful to their opponent up until Mitrione and Shaub got up on stage. Dana White was forced to jump in between the two to calm them down. You could feel the adrenaline pumping in your system as the event went on, getting us even more excited to watch the fights the next day!
After getting through all of the fighters, the VIPs were taken back behind the stage where we got to meet about a dozen fighters including; Glover Texeira, Alex Caceras, Michael McDonald, Jon Jones, and even UFC Fit instructor, Mike Dolce. All of them were super cool guys shaking our hands, talking with us for a few minutes, and even taking pictures and signing autographs with us. Everyone on the outside of security and the fences were screaming their names asking for autographs and pictures as we were literally hanging out with them. You would think that this was one of our best experiences on the trip, but it just keeps getting better!
Finally, Saturday had come and our anticipation for the fights continued to grow. Around 4 o’clock, we were taken to the main entrance of Air Canada and began our guided tour through the stadium, which ended right next to the Octagon.
Then, we were told to take our shoes off...
Inside the Cage
We were very confused until they told us that we were going to go inside the cage! We literally could feel the spring of the floor as we jumped and walked around the stage. Not only did we get to walk around the Octagon, but we were handed the championship belt to take pictures with! Not many people in the world can say that they have been inside the cage where Jon “Bones” Jones broke the record for most defended titles in UFC history!
The tour ended and we got into our seats about 15 minutes before the first fight of UFC 165. The first 8 fights were the prelims and they did not disappoint. The fighters in the prelims are looking to make a name for themselves so needless to say – they go all out in the Octagon and it makes for some exciting, non-stop action fights.
After 4 knockouts, 2 submissions, and 2 decisions it was time for the Main Card. Throughout the prelims and the closer it got to the Main Card, (which started at 10:15pm) the Arena started filling up. You could feel the electricity build in the Air Canada Center as only a few seats remained in the nearly sold-out arena.
Pat Healy vs Khabib Nurmagomedov kicked off the main card – what a fight to start the night! It went the full 3 rounds and Khabib won by decision. This being our first UFC fight ever, without a doubt, it met our expectations. As each fight finished and Jones vs. Gustafsson inched closer the excitement in the arena became palpable.
Our seats in the VIP section starting filling up with celebrities from all walks of life – movie starts, producers, directors, athletes and also the family of the Champ, Jon Jones. Not to mention, the man himself…Dana White was seated just a few feet away, up against the Octagon.
What a fight it was!
Jones would win in the 5th round and set a new UFC light heavyweight championship record with his 6th title defense. He will have his chance to extend his record to 7th as he squares off against Glover Teixeira who has won his last 20 overall fights. This fight is set for Feb 1st…the Super Bowl Fight at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
After mingling with stars all weekend and seeing arguably the best fight in UFC history, this was without a single doubt the ULTIMATE UFC VIP EXPERIENCE. We are counting down the days, minutes, and seconds for our next chance to experience UFC VIP for Weidman vs. Silva 2 UFC 168 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas!