For the longest time, I knew virtually nothing about the UFC. I'd dabbled with the Ultimate Fighting Championship game on the Dreamcast, and even watched some classic Royce Gracie fights on a borrowed cassette tape, but I was always far more interested in arcade-style fighting games where you could hurl fireballs and juggle opponents ten feet in the air. But after watching an MMA demonstration at an Undisputed event back in 2009, I began to watch and appreciate mixed martial arts as both a technical sport and a freeform style of hand-to-hand combat.
This started with The Ultimate Fighter, an ongoing reality television series that plays out like a cross between Big Brother and Ong-Bak, before moving on to the main UFC events themselves. It's here that I got to see Jon Jones relinquish the Light Heavyweight Champion belt from Mauricio Rua with some savage ground and pound; Cain Velasquez school Brock Lesnar with a round one TKO; and Anderson Silva, after being dominated by the relentless wrestling ability of Chael Sonnen for four rounds straight, lock-in an epic triangle armbar submission to secure his seventh title defence as Middleweight Champion.
It was then, like a music aficionado who can't stop listening to a new band and then takes the plunge to see them on tour, that I finally got the opportunity to see a main event live. This was thanks to an invitation to watch UFC 138 at the Birmingham LG Arena, where I got to see Che Mills earn Knockout of the Night with a thundering knee strike, and Terry Etim achieve his fourth Submission of the Night award with a guillotine choke in the 17th second of the first round.