Fight week here in Fort Lauderdale kicked off with a press conference yesterday at the Bank Atlantic Center, from where EliteXC’s Ken Shamrock vs Kimbo Slice card will air live on CBS Saturday night. Fighters are short in their speeches, with all pretty much saying, “I am just ready to fight.” Local media dominated in the questions, as the presser was earlier than usual events — so no one from the MMA media has yet to arrive in town save MMA Rated’s Ariel Helwani.
Kelly Kobald looks game and proudly announces hers is going to be the fight of the night. Kelly gives the media a sly smile and turns up her chin — you know she means it.
The first question of the Q&A is a fan asking for a hug from Gina Carano. Carano obliges. Some groan, some let out an “Awww.” Someone asks Ken about how he feels the fight will end, Ken simply replies, “Snap–Crackle–Pop,” garnering chuckles from the audience of press and fans. The Miami Herald inquires if more experienced fighters are disgruntled with Kimbo’s quick fame and Jake Shields fields the question responding that Kimbo’s fame offers him an opportunity to be seen by many more people and that his older neighbors now recognize him and his occupation. Shields smartly notes Kimbo’s popularity means great exposure for all fighters on the card.
Spirits are light and Bas Rutten raises his hand to ask a question during the Q&A portion, prompting the microphone handler to cry, “Baaas—” sounding like a disappointed mother. Bas grabs the mic, “Uh, this question is for Ken Shamrock. Ken, could you write down your gameplan in detail for us?” Ken laughed and simply stuck to a variation of his earlier response and exclaimed he was going to tear Kimbo apart. Bas pointed at Ken and belly laughed, “Good! We trained for that.”
The press conference ends and everyone disbands to one-on-ones, with Gina and Kimbo getting hounded by requests and Andrei Arlovski looking to sneak out. I’m leaning over a photographer trying to get a shot of Kimbo kissing his mom on the cheek — I barely miss it, photog Joe Cavaretta gets the shot and it’s in the Sun Sentinel today, and it looks great!
I do however get a shot of the Cyborgs, with the husband sporting a giant cast broken arm. I head back to my hotel to get the photos out.
Early this morning, I drive down to the Clear Channel offices for BIG 105.9’s Kimbo Look-alike contest, where they’re giving away tickets to Saturday’s show to anyone willing to shave their head like Kimbo’s. One genuine look-alike shows up in Kimbo’s signature white tank top and gives the morning show hosts a scare, pretending to threaten them after they spend a few minutes slamming Kimbo for not making an appearance on the show like Ken Shamrock. While there aren’t many beards here, one kid shows up taking one for the team and earning tickets for his family and winning my award for best reaction to the cut.
There’s another reporter around doing interviews, and he asks the kid, “So how did you get into Ultimate Fighting?” And as people filed into the radio office in the morning, the promo team in charge of getting contestants stops each employee, “Shave your head for tickets to UFC!” I giggle.
Two men from the local Army base come to get their heads shaved and some who won tickets earlier return with friends to participate. Seth Petruzelli is going to be on the morning show in the nine o’ clock hour so he stops by and poses with the winner of the look-alikes, who picks him up with one arm.
Tracy is in San Diego covering Peepants vs Cock Sandwich. More photos from the presser are here and look-alike contest here. Check back tomorrow for my report on the weigh-ins at the BankAtlantic Center (which are public so if you’re local to Fort Lauderdale, drop in!) and don’t forget to watch the fights on Saturday night and look for my dumb face on TV.