by Austin Luff (@AJMMA_)
December 8, 2018
I have not been a fan of MMA too long, the first PPV I ever watched was UFC 217 because it was the return of Georges St-Pierre. Even then, I did not really become a fan of MMA until UFC 229, because of Conor McGregor.
Regardless of my newness to the sport, when the UFC announced that they were coming to Scotiabank Arena in Toronto for UFC 231, for some reason I knew I had to be there. I remember going to Toronto early to do some shopping and walking around, and I can remember that I could not wait to get to the arena. I knew something special was going to happening that night.
I got to the arena for the early prelims, and even though it was not full yet, the place was already electric. I felt at home, and it was truly the night I fell in love with the sport. Every time a Canadian fighter came out, the crowd would cheer for them with passion. By the time Thiago Santos and Jimi Manuwa kicked off the main card, I looked around and noticed the arena was packed! It was a total sell out and it showed. I do not think there was a single empty seat in the arena.
Going back to Manuwa and Santos, I do not think anybody (at least in my section) was sitting down for that fight. The whole crowd was so into it and I could barely hear myself think. It was electric, and Joe Rogan even said on the broadcast, “take your headset off and listen to this place!” I will never forget it. When Gunnar Nelson came out, the arena was so behind him it was insanely loud. When he got the bloody win against Alex Oliveira, the crowd popped so loud, you could tell that absolutely everybody was behind him. The funniest part of that fight was when they showed the replay and we saw that shot of the fountain that Gunnar created in Oliveira’s head, there was an audible gasp from the crowd.
Then for the main event, obviously the crowd reacted to Max Holloway like he was from Toronto, that crowd was behind him. I think he won the hearts of Toronto by calling it, “The 10th Island” all week. I have never had an experience like being at UFC 231, at least every couple of weeks, I go through my videos and photos from the event and I just relive that energy and that day.
UFC 231, December 8th was the day that I fell in love with the sport of MMA and is the reason I am writing about it today.
10th Island baby, let’s go!