Live Report from UFC 112: Day 1

Kru Chatri Sityodtong reports live from Abu Dhabi at the scene of UFC 112:

"The scorching desert air greeted me right when I got off the plane yesterday at 430pm.  The gush of hot desert air felt as if I had just opened the door to a broiling oven.  When I got to the hotel (Yas Island Rotana Hotel where all the UFC fighters and cornermen are staying), I immediately bumped into Renzo Gracie, Luca Atalla, Roberto Gordo Correa, Rafael Gordinho Correa, and a few others in the lobby.  We hung out for a bit, talking and laughing like crazy kids.  For a second, I thought that I was on vacation with old friends because of the inviting view of the sparkling azure swimming pool, hot desert sun, and resort atmosphere just beyond the lobby windows.  Of course, our chat quickly turned to everyone's respective fights.  Renzo is in the best shape of his life - and he's 43 years old!  He happily lifted up his shirt to show me his abs and I punched them to test them out.  He joked at how fat he was when he came to Evolve MMA in Singapore in 2009.  To be precise, Renzo has lost 35 pounds in the last few months in preparation for this fight.  Of course, Renzo has a very tough opponent in former UFC World Champion Matt Hughes.  In fact, Hughes is a 5 to 1 favorite to win the fight.  In my opinion, the key for Renzo is to outstrike Hughes in order to lull him into a takedown.  If Hughes lands on his back or in Renzo's guard, then Renzo will likely submit Hughes in dramatic fashion.  That being said, Renzo is 43 years old and has not fought for 3 years.   My biggest worry is his fitness levels late into the fight, given his age.  Nevertheless, Renzo Gracie is a one in six billion.  He has an unbreakable will and a lion warrior heart.  (If you don't believe me, you should watch his fight against Sakuraba.  Sakuraba broke Renzo's arm with a kimura and Renzo still refused to tap.) 

After hanging out with everyone, I went up to my hotel room, showered, and jumped onto my laptop.  I went to check the odds for the fight and couldn't believe that the oddsmakers had Dos Anjos as an underdog for the fight!  It made me super happy inside.  In my mind, there is nothing better than being an underdog for a fight, especially since I know the truth.  After working with Dos Anjos again this past month, I believe in my heart that Dos Anjos is going to win the fight in the 1st round.  I do not mean any disrespect to Terry Etim - I know Etim is a very tough fighter and an excellent striker.  I just believe in Dos Anjos and all the work that we've put into him.  In my opinion, Dos Anjos has equal chance of winning by KO or by submission.  Rafael is that well-rounded of a fighter in both the standup and ground games.  His Muay Thai and BJJ games are both impressive.  Additionally, Dos Anjos is in unbelievable shape with an endless gas tank.  He is stronger, faster, and more technical than Etim in all areas of the game.  Above all, we have a very clear game plan and strategy (which I won't talk about here for obvious reasons).  The only way Etim wins is by a lucky kick or knee to the head (which is very possible, of course).   

At 845pm, Dos Anjos knocked on my door for our 9pm training session.  We are 5 days away from the fight.  On the night of the fight on April 10, we anticipate that Rafael will be fighting around 10pm.  So we want to set his body clock to the time of the fight.  We went down to the UFC workout rooms and they were already crowded - Anderson Silva, Matt Hughes, Renzo Gracie, Ricardo Almeida, Frankie Edgar, Demian Maia, and a bunch of others.  Everyone was friendly; we all shook hands, exchanged pleasantries, and chatted for a bit.  There were 2 separate training rooms and each fighter was assigned to one of them.  

Dos Anjos skipped rope for 5 minutes.  Then he and I worked some Muay Thai for 4 rounds (5 minutes per round).  We worked specific drills and combinations tailored for Terry Etim.  Then Gordinho jumped in and grappled with Dos Anjos on the mats for 1 round (10 minutes) of BJJ.  Gordinho's older brother, Gordo, watched from afar and gave tips to Dos Anjos.  After we finished training, everyone gathered around to watch Renzo Gracie roll with his student, UFC Fighter Ricardo Almeida.  We spent another 3 hours with everyone in the workout room, trading technique, ideas, and fight strategies.  Gordinho and I both remarked how we always learn so much in these sessions.  Of course, we also shared our knowledge in various aspects of the game with everyone too.  I ended up getting back to my hotel room at 1am.  I took a long hot shower and then reviewed fight footage on Terry Etim (for the millionth time) for about an hour before passing out in bed with my laptop."