Day 24: Moving and find the UFC

Trip Start May 25, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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What I did
Watched the UFC

Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, September 24, 2011

Today I said goodbye to the place I have been staying in the Berkeley Hills, and moved down to the flats in Berkeley true. Having packed on Thursday, it was an easy process - moving one bag a couple of kilometres. I was duley welcomed by my new landlord, and began the final part of the reshuffling I had begun on Wednesday. Setting my alarm, so that I would be out of the door in time for lunch, I managed to reorder the closet so I could get rid of all the extra furniture and bags that I really didn't want to have to step around for the next two months.

Satisfied with progress, I headed towards Uni, and then met up with some friends I had met the weekend before. Lunch of a salmon burger went down incredibly nicely at the Cypress cafe, although the preferred chicken meat balls sounds delicious - but perhaps I am just craving meat. My diet hasn't exact been wide or good of late (thank you MacDonalds..... again!)

But with all this going on, I couldn't shake from my mind the thought that tonight I was going to be living in the same time zone as the UFC. I just had to find somewhere to see Quentin 'Rampage' Jackson fight Jonny 'Bones' Jones for the light-heavyweight title of the world.

I thought that would be easy. Hell, the opening compare at last nights show had even mentioned it - although in a rather homo-erotic way not befitting the majority of the fan base, i think! So', I logged online to find that NOWEHERE was planning on screening the fight in Berkeley. I started to make a few calls....
'Hi, this is Brennan's. How can I help?'
"Hi - will you perhaps be showing the UFC fight tonight?"
'Sorry missey, but no. They want us to pay $1,500 for pay per view, so we just can't do it. We have people calling all day long, but it's too much ya see. Sorry missey - and I don't even know anywhere else that will try either.'
"Ok. Thanks for your help."

Nice and couteous as these conversations were, time was moving on. Finally, I found a bar in downtown San Francisco that may do the job - but with no one answering the telephone, I figured it was now or never - I would just have to try.

Sitting on the BART, I was determind to find somewhere to see the show. It's takes place early here on the West Coast, at 6pm - so there would be plenty of time to get home again afterwards - it was just a matter of finding a place to watch.

I emerged among the sky-scrapers of  the financial district, hand-drawn map in my pocket, and set off towards the First Irish Bar. I rounded the final corner and there it was, just as it had looked online. Stepping through the door though with less than an hour unti the start of the event, my heart sank. Seven TV screens were showing five different sport; baseball, American Football..... but no fighting. The preliminary fights would be free on Spike by now, and yet nothing.

An irish voice greeted me: 'What can i get you?'
"Well, I was hoping you were going to screen the UFC fight tonight, but it doesn't look good!"
'Nope - we can't do that anymore. They'll close us down if we don't pay the full fees, and we can't afford it... so.... no. But maybe try....urm....'
Another guy shouted out 'Jimmies!'
'Yeah, that's right", the barman said, "Jimmies on Matrione - go past 4th and to Mission, and you'll see it there - it's round the back - can't miss it.'

I grabbed a pen and wrote it down.
"Jimmies you say? On 4th and Mission?"
'Yep'.... people were nodding as they sat at the bar.
"Ok - thanks. Have a good night", I said as I walked back to Market Street, where I had arrived.

The words 'YOU CAN'T MISS IT' always fill me with dread. In the park, it means you will not see the cheetah on the kill, the black rhino that are mating, or the new elephant calf. You can't miss it usually means that everyone knows something, but not how to describe it.....

And so with those words in mind, I began my search for Jimmies. I didn't find it.
I walked past other bars, but none were showing UFC.
I walked another block East incase they had remembered incorrectly. Nothing.
I walked a couple of blocks West, just to be on the safe side.
I asked in a cafe.... but he lady she just pointed at a bar and said 'They may know Jimmy'. Thinking that getting closer to the streets with large neon XXX signs was probably not a great idea, I asked in a furniture store, where the Chinese lady just said I should try walking up and down the if I hadn't tried that. She looked back down at her newspaper.

It was now nearly 6pm - the fight was getting closer and I was getting desperate. I looked back at my scrawled hand-writing.... Jimmies......Matrione......Jimmies.......Matrione.

At 4th and Mission and stopped and looked around. Another bar with screens flashed in the corner, so I went and asked......'Are you going to show the UFC fight tonight.'
No came the reply....'but you could try Gillians down the street - go past the Metreon and it's round the back.'

Jimmies - Gillian's
Matrione - Metreon

Oh my goodness..... i had walked for an hour following directions that although I had confirmed, were wrong.

I hurried down the street - sure enough - there it was Gillians.
"Are you showing the UFC tonight?" I asked the bouncers on the door.
'Yep - it's a $20 cover'
"Oh - ok - urm, does that include any beer or anything?" i asked hopefully
'No, sorry. That's just to get in. After that, what you buy you pay for.'

I turned to leave, knowing that although I was expecting to pay a cover, $20 was more than I had bargained for. But wait.... what was i doing.... this was my first chane to see the UFC live in real time and I was turning away? What was wrong with me..... i could easily spend $20 on things I wouldn't remember over the next week, or I could pay for something I would remember for a long time. I glanced into the bar. Peeping out from behind a curtained off area, three gigantic screens had started to show the opening sequence of the show......oh no, oh no, oh no!

I smiled. Turned. Handed over my $20 and found a seat at the bar.

Watching the UFC with around 200 other fans was probably one of the best experiences of my life. There are normally just two of us, and occasionally three, who will sit and watch the UFC dvd's. Here it was different - people were calling out, shouting, watching hard, drinking and having fun.

As the night went on, the Blue Moon on tap started to flow - something I have heard a lot about from friends over the years. Some fans knew the history of what was going on with the fights - others just laughed and cajolled at the replays - where slow motion lets you see the full force of the impacts during the fight. I guess that's why it appeals to so many different fans. Some people like the skill involved with the martial arts, some come from a boxing background, some just the characters fighting tonight - and others are just the meathead variety who simply want to see a bit of action.

'I saw a crazy street fight the other day - one small Mexican dude took on seven bouncers - he just knocked them out one by one - then he chased after two of them that had run away, and he knocked them down too. When the dust settled, literally settled, he was the last one standing. He comes over to us and asks if we want a part of it too - no way we said. He was amazing. It's a true story, true story!'

The fight card progressed and the bar filled up. I would say the majority wanted the new-comer 'Bones' to win - but the 'Ramage' fans let their feelings known too. It was great, and truely one of the best nights of my life. Talking with other people who love this sport is fantastic. Sharing stories with folks who have been to watch UFC when it was in Oakland was great.... and perhaps there will be people going to see one of the next shows when it comes to San Jose in Novmeber.... let's hope that the rumours are true!

Sitting on the BART on the way back, some teens / early twenties folks dressed in 70's gear boarded - they had been to Lovevolution - a peace / dance festival, and not slept for nearly 72 hours. Then came a lady in a super-powered wheelchair, advertising the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco tomorrow. She said she used to wear hippie clothes back in the day, but tomorrow in Folsom there would be lots of leather and whips and anything else you please - or so she said! Her and her wife would be attending - so she hoped to see everyone there.

As I sat and listened and watched the characters of the bay area, I realised that there are inifinite possibilities regarding the people you will meet, and places you can see. It's an amazing place - and one that is filled with possibilities and fun. A place where you can learn, and meet others who like the same things; or just hand out with no bother. It's easy to be whoever you want to be.

Back home, settling down in my new room, I opened the windows to hear the city go by. People meandered home; laughing, while bicycles zoomed past along the quiet roads.

I turned to sleep -happy -  it had been a long and very exciting day.

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