Why a fight column every other week? This might be a question non-fight fans have asked themselves when flipping through these pages or browsing online.
Avid fans get it. Combatants appreciate it. Promoters and venues cherish it. But others may still be perplexed.
The athleticism should speak for itself. The newfound notoriety from the UFC on Fox should equate to broader acceptance.
Throughout the years we have taken Tulsa fans to events big and small. The PGA Championship, a random TU basketball game, a Drillers day game experience; you name it and we've shined a light on it and immersed you in the experience.
As the famous Octagon announcer Bruce Buffer might say, "it is time" for the same treatment regarding MMA.
Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Here is a backstage, behind the curtain, from a fan's perspective, view of what a local event looks like and why it appeals to the masses.
The idea of having a column's premise ride on an event is a risky proposition. What if the night fell flat?
What if it turned out to be the most exciting Fight Night in recent memory? Tulsa fans in The Joint received an early birthday gift in the form of several "oh shit" moments that built and built and climaxed with the main event.
In truth fight fans were skeptical. But interested was elevated when promoter Dale Cook announced an eight-man tournament headlining XFN 11.
Then a week or so later it was announced the tournament would consist of kickboxing instead of the assumed mixed martial arts. A general "meh" met the news. Boy oh boy, were we wrong.
This turned out to be approximately 30 times more exciting than even the most hopeful combat expected. A sprinkling of mainstream MMA fights separated the three rounds of the tournament.
Lines formed Friday evening earlier than normal. About one hour before the doors opened the patrons began meandering outside itching for action.
Once inside they mingled with the likes of Frank Shamrock and other local fighters taking the night off.
If an Oilers jersey inside the BOK Center reveals your rooting interest, then a walkout t-shirt does the same at the fights. Higher profile fighters sell replica shirts of what they will wear entering the ring or cage.
There are only a handful of fighters in the region with larger followings than welterweight Ed Cline. Cline's fight was a draw in a controversial decision. His opponent was either allergic to the ring or simply could not remain inside. It was almost comical.
Xtreme Fight Night 12 returns to The Joint in April. For the first time a cage will be used in lieu of a ring. There is no doubt in my mind the results of the XFL welterweight championship would have been different inside a cage.
Bill Goldberg once gushed about his birth city. Tulsa, unlike some of the other big cities he visits, stood tall and paid respect when the National Anthem reverberated at XFN. This Friday night would be no different.
Hometown hero Randy Blake entered the night as the favorite. The level of competition was off the charts.
The initial bout of the tournament was a back and forth, high-level display. It was natural to wonder if we had already seen the best of the best.
Then Randy Blake danced his way to the ring to his typical Michael Jackson music. He squared off against virtual unknown Dustin Jacoby. Jacoby answered the call on Wednesday to step into the ring against America's best. Forty-eight hours notice put him at a huge disadvantage.
They forgot to tell Jacoby he was a late replacement. He took huge shots from Randy Blake but withstood the onslaught. Blake was wobbled in the third round. The ref immediately waived off the fight. Was an eight count in order? Perhaps. There was certainly no home cooking in the decision to put Jacoby through to the next round.
Jacoby next defeated Roy Broughton in the second round by TKO. He waited in the finals for Brian "The Lion" Collette.
Collette won his first match of the night with the most vicious high kick the state has ever seen. Rather than land on his opponents head, he whacked Jeremy Freitag in the neck.
Freitag went stiff and convulsed when he hit the canvas. The paramedics took him out of the cage on a stretcher with a neck brace secured. Freitag is okay and this was just a precaution. Immediately the tournament had a new favorite to take the grand prize.
Collette won his second round bout in impressive fashion as well. The two knockdown rule in one round came into play again. Collette moved like a young Mike Tyson and flashed similarly powerful.
The Joint noise levels elevate during Xtreme Fight Night events. But nothing could match the intensity on this night. The Rocky-esque story of Jacoby versus the lethal Collette.
For the first time in three bouts Collette was pressured and tested. The slap of the canvas meant the end of the first round was ten seconds away.
Collette appeared to go into energy conservation mode. Jacoby attacked. As the bell sounded Collette was now on spaghetti legs trying to remain upright after a barrage of punches found the mark.
The ref called an end to the bout and the crowd went absolutely bonkers.
Randy Blake's loss to the eventual tournament champion looked better as the night wore on. The mouse under Jacoby's left eye was a result from his first bout against Blake. No one else would test him the same way.
Jacoby might be from Illinois but he now has a fan base in Tulsa. For all the animosity fighting can bring, watching the entire arena stand and show appreciation for the determination of an "outsider" is what combat sports is all about.
Who knows if we will ever witness another night this memorable? But you never know what will happen. That's what brings us back.
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