UPPER PLAYGROUND TEAMS UP WITH LOS ANGELES ICONS MISTER CARTOON & ESTEVAN ORIOL TO OPEN FOUR RETAIL EXPERIENCES IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN L.A.
UPPER PLAYGROUND TEAMS UP WITH LOS ANGELES ICONS
Grand Opening Celebration Features an Open House of the New Storefronts
WHO/WHAT: San Francisco-based apparel and art company Upper Playground, photographer and director Estevan Oriol and artist Mister Cartoon are excited to announce the unveiling of a series of four one-of-a-kind retail establishments in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles. Each storefront will offer customers a unique fashion and fine art experience. In celebration of the new properties, the three entities will host an open house on Saturday, May 31, 2008 that will feature a special art exhibit and appearances from some of the world’s leading designers involved in the project. Details about the four businesses are included below.
Upper Playground includes apparel for men and women including their popular line of hoodies, t-shirts, jackets, shoes, luggage, an innovative line of home furnishings and more. An exclusive line of Los Angeles-inspired apparel designs will also be available. The Upper Playground store will have a separate space for an art gallery similar to many of Upper Playground’s other retail locations. Upper Playground L.A. marks the seventh city in the world to feature an Upper Playground retail establishment since its inception in 1999. The company recently opened two other California stores in Sacramento and Berkeley.
“Upper Playground has a large following in the L.A. market and we’re excited to offer our Southern California friends an outlet to experience rare art and fashion from some of the world’s leading designers,” said Matt Revelli, founder and owner of Upper Playground. “As a West Coast brand, Los Angeles is a natural progression for Upper Playground to have a retail presence and it’s nice to be located in a developing area of the city. Upper Playground thrives in unique and emerging neighborhoods like Skid Row, and we’re honored to be working with the talented Estevan Oriol and Mister Cartoon on such an innovative retail experience.”
Upper Playground is the pioneer of combining fashion and fine art. In celebration of the new store opening, there will be a special art exhibit featuring the works of Usugrow, Sam Flores, Jeremy Fish, David Choe, Herbert Baglione, San, Retna, Saber, Alex Pardee, Ron English, Doze Green, Slick, Armsrock and David Ellis. Many of the featured artists on display also contribute designs to Upper Playground’s apparel line.
In addition to Upper Playground, the new venture includes “The Last Laugh,” which will house the Mister Cartoon and Estevan Oriol retail experiences.
Popular L.A. tattoo and graffiti artist Mister Cartoon’s new store will house signature Mister Cartoon items and artifacts from his passions and hobbies. “I wanted to create a space that was open to the public that is an extension of my lifestyle and culture,” said Mister Cartoon. The Mister Cartoon experience will include a special tattoo station for a select group of tattoo artists to make guest appearances.
In 2006, photography legend Estevan Oriol selected Upper Playground as his official apparel partner. This new retail space will house Oriol’s apparel line with Upper Playground and his iconic photography prints will also be available for sale to the public. “Upper Playground understands what I want to convey with my art and they have given me the freedom to transcend my imagery with my apparel line in the way that I want,” comments Oriol on his experience working with Upper Playground. Oriol is a longtime resident of L.A. “I wanted to open a store in downtown L.A. because it’s where we’ve spent a lot of our time for the past thirteen years,” said Oriol.
The fourth location involved in the new retail project will be a rotating concept that will house unique fashion and art concepts for short periods of time. During the open house, it will feature a display of custom motorcycles from 1998 AMA 250cc Champion-turned motorcycle designer Roland Sands and limited-edition fashion pieces from designer and model Tony Ward’s line, Six in the Face. From August through September the site will be transformed into a truly unique promotional experience for the upcoming feature film from Overture Films called “Righteous Kill” starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. SA Studios Global, the agency of Estevan Oriol and Mister Cartoon, was selected to produce the iconic poster for the film. The space will become the exclusive promotional headquarters for the film and will feature a shrine to the film’s stars.
WHEN: Grand Opening: Saturday, May 31, 2008 from 1 – 8 p.m.
WHERE: Upper Playground & The Last Laugh
125 E. 6th Street (between S. Main St. and S. Los Angeles St.), Los Angeles, CA 90014
The pattern is familiar. Nintendo drops a new product and it sells out instantly; its eBay-only availability quickly adding to its mainstream caché. This time, however, moms and dads across North America aren’t bidding on a holiday present for little Billy; they’re bidding on a present for themselves. Should you start sniping, wait for a restock, or hold off altogether? Console Creatures investigates whether Nintendo’s latest non-game actually delivers on its promises of health and happiness…
The first thing you’ll notice when you lay your hands on a Wii Fit package (if you’ve been lucky enough to find one) is its considerable weight. Unsurprisingly, most of that heft is accounted for by the Wii balance board – the wireless hardware pack-in that is also responsible for the product’s $99 price tag. Fortunately, it turns out that the balance board is a terrific piece of kit.
Having been both enlarged and reinforced since the device’s Japanese debut, the board now supports up to 330lbs, in light of North Americans’ greater propensity to be ‘big boned’ compared to their Japanese counterparts. In addition to its sturdiness, you’ll discover that the board is also remarkably sophisticated, and is able to detect even minute fluctuations in the user’s weight, posture, and centre of balance. The quality of the balance board is such that even gamers who aren’t particularly interested in lunges or leg-lifts should consider purchasing Wii Fit if only for the peripheral’s clear potential. The board is already compatible with Namco’s WeSki, and the forthcoming Skate It from EA, and, the announcement of a “Ten-EightWii” Snowboarding title from Nintendo is a seeming no-brainer.
Of course, for most, the fitness software will be the main attraction of the Wii Fit package. One of the largest challenges of any fitness regime is maintaining the self-discipline to see it through. In this regard, Wii Fit’s interactivity is key. The software is far more compelling than traditional video-based exercise programs because of the feedback it offers. Wii Fit not only shows users how to perform 40 included activities (comprised of yoga, strength training, aerobics and balance games), but assesses performance, tracks progress, and allows up to 8 users to set specific goals within their own Mii-based profiles. Should a user begin to master a specific activity, Wii Fit will scale its challenge accordingly, offering a greater number of reps or imposing a more demanding time limit. Wii Fit also employs classic videogame progression to keep things fresh, regularly unlocking new activities as users play.
These features are made possible by the superb relationship between the software and the balance board. Thanks to the board’s sensitivity, the software is largely accurate in its assessments of user performance, and can seldom be tricked or cheated. While Wii Fit is no substitute for a dedicated personal trainer, in terms of cost, practicality, and ease of use, it is a surprisingly reasonable alternative.
If you’re hoping that Wii Fit will do you for you what mushrooms do for Mario, you’ll need to adjust your expectations. It likely goes without saying that a few days with Wii Fit is not going to leave you cut, ripped, or with anything like a Bowflex body. As such, hardcore fitness fans should stick to more demanding routines.
Speaking of which, it is a definite disappointment that multi-activity routines are altogether absent from Wii Fit. Rather than the game generating a scheduled sequence of activities, users are always required to select for themselves the activities that they perform one-at-a-time. Occasionally the game will suggest pairs of complimentary activities to perform together, but the lack of pre-arranged (or even user-customizable) multi-activity play lists can only be regarded as an oversight by Nintendo.
Serious gym junkies should also be aware that Wii Fit’s reliance on Body Mass Index (BMI) may cause unreliable fitness readings for users with particularly muscular physiques. Wii Fit has already generated some controversy for labelling a muscular 10-year-old girl “overweight”, and, in general, BMI is a metric best suited for fully-developed adults with moderate fitness goals.
Finally, because some of Wii Fit’s activities require quite expansive play environments, those with smaller living spaces may have to get used to two “bonus” exercises before and after they fire up their Wiis: the couch rotation and the coffee table twist.
HERE’S THE DEAL
When Nintendo unveiled the Wii at E3 2005, the potential for a fitness application was obvious. To its credit, the company has taken the time to do things right, developing yet another revolutionary peripheral and putting it to great use. While users should not expect to achieve extreme results, Wii Fit strikes a uniquely rewarding balance between fitness and fun. 8/10
Julian Carrington for www.consolecreatures.com
Shankle mi nankle. Shizzle mi nizzle. Ele is back and he’s currently on top of the Billboard reggae charts. Here’s what he had to say about the disc at the tail end of last year. Check for more in the upcoming summer issue of Peace, #91 to be exact…
Where does this album, Let’s Get Physical, fit into the lexicon of Elephant Man’s releases?
Well trust me, right now Let’s Get Phsyical, where this album fits? It fits right at the new generation. This is the new era, this is the new sound; this is everything to Elephant Man right now because the past three years we were putting out like, on the VP label, like the Over The Wall album, we were suppose to be at Def Jam, but it didn’t get to work out the right way. So Puff Daddy came to the Hot 97, On The Reggae Show Tip and saw me. Puff Daddy said he wanted to sign me. So we took it from there. We scrapped that album; we went into the studio and did a lot of work. So this album is not like taking a couple tracks from the dancehall, put it together and doing one. This album you got producers like Swizz Beatz, Lil Jon, you got Dasaka, you got Steven from Big Ship, that’s Freddie McGregor’s son. You got Puffy, you got Will, you got Wyclef, you got crazy people and you got artists on this album. You got me and Akon, me and R Kelly, me and Puffy and Swizz Beatz, you got me and Swizz Beatz again, you got me and Rihanna, me and Chris Brown, you got me, Busta Rhymes and Shaggy. The album is crazy. Trust me. Me and Kat De Luna, on the Let’s Get Physical, she just went on that. It’s crazy. Right now this album is one of the best. It’s unexplainable. It’s not like me going into a reggae recording studio and recording. This is like recording from my life. I’m recording for reggae music right now. I’m not taking it the cheap way by taking a couple tracks I did at regular studios in Jamaica. I went down, I went into the studio with some ideas. I told Steven McGregor and we produce it same like how we would produce it like how we do the Swizz Beatz track, same like how we would be in Bad Boy studio recording. That’s how we did it. You got Baby G on the album, you know Jammys son. So trust me, the album is crazy. Tight, tight, tight. You got Birch, Tony Kelly, from the dancehall scene. You got Ward 21. Crazy.
So would you the say this is the most Elephant has ever tried?
It’s the best. When I did all the other albums, like when I was signed to Greensleeve and did those three albums, Coming For You, Log On and Higher Level, those albums were like I am in the dancehall doing my stuff. This album is like representing for the dancehall and going after the new world, the American market. Breaking through to new audience. Giving the new Hip Hop, R&B, Pop, Soca, everybody new generation something to say, ‘Yo, This album is serious. This is not any regular reggae dancehall album’. This is a dancehall international album; real, real produce.
So the intent of this album, you made this specifically to give Americans, what you feel they want?
Yeah, because we took all the American artist and put them on the dancehall beat. Me and Chris Brown, that is a dancehall beat, me and Rihanna, dancehall beat. Five-0, it’s a dancehall beat. Me and Akon, on Our World, that’s a dancehall. R. Kelly, Sweep the Floor With It, that’s a dancehall beat. We putting them on the dancehall beat, letting them feel the vibe of our world. It’s not like I am putting them on a hip-hop beat because I am not hip-hop. I’m a Dancehall artist, that’s what I represent. So I try to keep it Dancehall as possible but with some names that can turn heads. Letting people say, ‘Let me hear what Elephant Man is saying with R. Kelly’ or ‘Let me hear what he is saying with Rihanna.’ If you read the album, you are going to want to listen to it. If you see what’s happening you are going to get blown out of your shoes because trust me, Puff Daddy, one thing I like about him you can’t trick him with music. Puffy, you can’t trick him with music. A lot of people might not go around Puff Daddy, and might not get to know him, but I know him. You don’t just go in Puffy’s place and do music and say here I got these and he takes it, because no, you got to please him; everybody around you plus the staff, he got to be feeling it. When I say feeling it, you might feel it, he might feel it, but he’ll feel like we could do more. Either step up the beat, or put something more to it or get a name who can carry a hook. He just thinks musically, like how Elephant Man would think and that’s why I like in him.
by Neil Forester
Thursday April 17th 5pm
Arriving into my destination of Montreal two days before the big event, it was apparent the city had two things in mind : Hockey and Mixed Martial Arts. The local Montreal Canadians had a home game that night at the Bell Centre, a win would be able to put the series to bed and move onto the second round, but first they had to beat the feisty Boston Bruins. Two nights later, Montreal’s newest superstar, UFC competitor Georges St. Pierre was going to enter the Octagon, to try and regain his welterweight title in front of 21,000+ screaming fans to take on his nemesis Matt Serra who beat him for the belt a year earlier.
Thursday Night didn’t fare to well for the local Montreal Canadians and their fans, as they were beaten at home by the Boston Bruins, pushing the series back to Boston, and leaving Montreal to wait another day to celebrate advancing to the second round.
The pressure was solely now on Georges St-Pierre, better known by fans everywhere as GSP. He had to step into the arena and carry the pressure of thousands of screaming fans in attendance and millions of Canadian fans across the country.
Quickly settling into town were thousands of out of towners from mostly neighboring Toronto and parts of the United States. The spectacle of human cockfighting better known as the UFC, the worlds fastest growing sport and the largest mixed martial arts organization in the world, had now entered new and unfamiliar territory, but with incredibly successful results. The UFC’s first and certainly not last foray north of the border had proven to be the biggest and quickest sell out UFC event to date, with over 21,000 tickets sold in three days before even going on sale to the public. UFC fight club members had snatched up over 13,000 tickets in the first day alone, and by day 2, the UFC had to stop presales to members, to try and give general public a shot at purchasing tickets. What was possibly a test of popularity by the UFC, quickly showed the power of the brand, as the city of Montreal literally became overwhelmed by fight fans, fighters, spectators and curious locals as well. Pre-parties, after-parties, autograph signings, meet and greets and the weigh- in that attracted well over 5,000+ people was the talk of the weekend. If you were within a couple miles of the Bell Centre, you could see the thousands of tattoo riddled, UFC cloth wearing fans that had been waiting for almost three months to watch the Ultimate Fighting Championship show and local favorite put on a weekend to remember.
Walking in hotel lobbies, or on St. Catherine Street you could see the fans around the streets of Montreal biding their time until the big show was to take place on Saturday night. In the meantime, you could see fans all walking with their heads up, looking around, not sure who they were going to see walking the streets, cameras in hand, it was only a matter of time before a fighter would be walking on the very same street taking in the very same sights.
Part of the UFC experience is the general admiration the fans have for the fighters, and what makes it that much more fun to watch, is to see the fighters have just as much admiration for the fans as they do for their heroes.
Whether it was St. Catherine Street, Crescent Street or the Lobby of the local Marriott hotel, you were bound to catch a glimpse or better yet an autograph and picture with your favorite UFC fighters, who were happy to oblige their fans requests.
Saturday April 19th
Fight day has arrived. What seems like an eternity for many, the day has come that everybody had been waiting for. It is almost unclear what people came for more. The show that is the UFC, or to see GSP thrash the cocky and brash New Yorker that currently holds the title. Regardless of what exactly fans came and paid hundreds of dollars for, this card was sure to be a memorable one for many reasons. The UFC did a great job of putting a solid card together. With 11 fights on the under card and main card, there was more than enough Canadian content to keep everyone happy. Some of the UFC’s other top stars were on the card as well, to give it a well balanced diet of not just Canadian fighters. Throughout the day, you could feel the excitement building, and it seemed that any TV channel that you put on, there was talk about the big dance coming to town and ready to put on a great show. Minutes seemed like hours, the fights couldn’t come soon enough.
The doors for the Bell Center would open at 6:30pm, with the first fight of the undercard taking place at 8:00pm and the pay per-view / main card starting at 10:00pm.
Having walked over to the Bell Center at 6:30pm to pick up my press credentials, it was truly a sight to see, over 10,000 fans in line and anxiously awaiting to enter the venue to grab their seats they all paid costly for, so they could get ready to enjoy a night of action and excitement. What many of the local fans failed to know, or couldn’t care less about, was they would be in the building and in their seats within 5 minutes and have nothing to do for the next 90 minutes, but this is the excitement of the UFC and shows the excitement of Canadian fans. At many UFC’s south of the border, you would be lucky to have half the venue at the fights by the time the under card starts, but this is Canada, and people have been waiting months, years to attend one of these events and they were about to capitalize on every minute of it.
The under card went as it was suppose too, a great warm up for the big show, with almost the entire building in their seats as the under card started, and many would think this was the main attraction. Canadian sensation Sam Stout lost a well fought out match via split decision to UFC veteran Rich Clementi. Hometown veteran Johnathan Goulet defeated Japanese fighter Kuniyoshi Hironaka and put on a show that earned them both fight of the night honors, which is rare to see an under card fight get these honors. Looks like the fans in attendance were about to be part of a great night. The rest of the under card proved to be well received and appreciated by the patient fans waiting for the clock to strike 10:00pm. An honorable mention should be made to fellow Canadian fighters Jason Day who made his UFC debut and quick and impressive work of Alan Belcher, who many felt was the favorite. In a battle of bad blood between two Canadians, Jason MacDonald defeated Joe Doerksen for the second time by beating him into a referee stoppage early in the 2nd round. It should be noted that all three fight tonight bonuses for knockout of the night, submission of the night and fight of the night were all awarded to fights on the preliminary card, which is a rarity and shows that maybe the anxious Canadian fans maybe had the right idea by showing up early to catch some of the better highlights early.
The time has come. Without warning, the lights in the building turned off, and the all too familiar sounds and lights of the UFC spectacle lit up the building and the fans went nuts. What we had all been waiting for had finally arrived, only this time; we were in our home country, united and cheering almost in unison for all our Canadian fighters.
With the usual build up and hype that one would see by watching on TV, the introductions into each match sent a chill down your spine, as you realized, instead of watching this at your local bar or on your couch, once the music started playing, you were watching it live and in living color.
The first match of the night featured talented Toronto fighter Mark Bocek and MMA veteran Mac Danzig. It was a pretty clear sign of things to come when both fighters entered the Octagon and the Canadian fighter would receive the louder cheers than their American counterpart, but showing true class, the Canadian fans still managed to show some respect to all fighters without making ourselves look bad. This display of respect shows how much Canadian fans respect these fighters and enjoy the show they put on for us.
The fight started with both fighters standing and exchanging in what was a fairly matched stand up battle until Bocek takes Danzig down and attempts to work the ground and pound. The rest of the round mainly has Bocek working from the top trying to catch Danzig with some shots. An impressive start for the underdog Canadian who clearly takes the first round, but things would soon change. Early on in round 2, Mac Danzig would catch Bocek with a knee that had many people groaning in their seats, and what looked like a possible beginning of the end, ended up being a true display of heart as Mac Danzig eagerly attacked his opponent with a ferocious array of ground and pound, stand up striking and submission attempts. Able to hold off all these attempts, Bocek was able to get back to his feet, only to be meet again by an aggressive stand-up attack by Danzig. Round 2 clearly went to Danzig and round 3 was going to decide it all. With hopes of an upset, Round 3 didn’t start well for the bloody Bocek who got caught early and was opened up to another attack of submission attempts and strikes by Danzig. Quickly the hopes of victory were fading, and one look at the fighters faces, it was clear that our Canadian boy was taking a beating, with the Ref having to stop the match at one point to clear the blood off his face and have the doctor look at it. The doctor allows it to continue but it is quickly stopped as Danzig attacks Bocek with a vicious combo that drops the Canadian, and Danzig clearly in control, sinks in the hooks and submits the helpless Mark Bocek by rear naked choke in the 3rd round.
While it was clearly a disappointing loss, it wasn’t surprising, but the local favorite showed he had heart and determination and both fighters were rewarded with a rousing ovation after the fight.
On to the next fight, which featured a battle between two 185lb fighters, one a veteran in that weight class and one making his debut at that weight. A little bit of bad blood and pre game hype made this fight an interesting one, and what made it more interesting was the fact that Michael Bisping was fighting at a lower weight for the first time in the UFC and many people wanted to see how he would look.
Walking to the ring, I was thoroughly surprised at the reception Michael Bisping received. Without a doubt one of the louder reactions for the night, I began to wonder, was it because people liked him, or because people just didn’t want to cheer for the American fighter across the cage from him, but it quickly became apparent, that this wasn’t a USA bashing, the fans truly liked Michael Bisping who over the past year has had a tough time in the octagon suffering his first loss as a pro after what many felt should have been his second when he was awarded a unanimous decision victory in his home country of England when he defeated Matt Hamill. It was clear that the memories of that controversy were now gone and new memories were about to be made.
It was pretty clear almost instantly as the thinned down Michael Bisping attacked Charles McCarthy with a series of blows mostly consisting of knees from within the clinch. Eventually McCarthy would attempt and succeed at a takedown, but failed to capitalize as Bisping was able to get back onto his feet and continue the stand up attack. As the round was coming to a close, Bisping went on a serious attack that McCarty had no answer for. With punch and knee’s coming from both arms and legs repeatedly, McCarthy dropped to the ground as the bell sounded and was unable to answer the bell to fight for the second round. Bisping clearly impressed at this weight and won the fight via TKO at the end of the first round.
Canadian fans had been treated to a great night of action with everything going the way the UFC would like it. Action packed fights, knockouts, submissions and great matches all the way down, now it was time for the 3rd fight on the main card, which would feature top middleweight contender Nat Quarry facing off against the always outspoken Kaleb Starnes.
With the obvious crowd clearly now having absorbed the UFC into their systems, it was time for Canadian pride to kick in, and again, the ovation that the always colorful Kaleb Starnes received it was obvious who the fans where going for. As the fight started, it was clearly a game of patience for both fighters, as they were both looking for an opening to attack, but within no time, it was pretty obvious and confusing as the match went from almost chess match, to a game of cat and mouse, with Nate Quarry calmly trying to provoke an exchange of some sort which Kaleb clearly didn’t want. This continued throughout the entire match, for 3 rounds, and by the end of the second round, the crowd clearly got agitated and began to boo the local Canadian fighter and he was losing support quickly. Round 3 was almost an identical repeat of the 1st 2 rounds, with the exception of the comic relief at towards the end of the fight as Nate Quarry realized he was more in a game of tag than a fight and started mocking Kaleb by pretending to do sprints in the Octagon and by covering his eyes and making funny gestures with his hands. The fight ended it what was clearly an embarrassment for the UFC and Kaleb Starnes, who would be let go by the UFC almost immediately. Perhaps the most action in the fight came after the match when the camps of both fighters had a war of words that almost turned physical. As expected, Nate Quarry won the match by unanimous decision to the delight of the now pro Quarry crowd, who in his victory speech quoted Rocky Balboa by thanking the crowd and saying “If you can change, then maybe I can change, and we all can change”
It was on to the 4th match of the evening, which pitted Jiu Jitsu master Travis Lutter, returning after his last disappointing loss to Anderson Silva to face former Middleweight Champion and clearly a fan favorite Rich Franklin. It would have been very interesting to see how the crowds reaction would have been if Rich Franklin had a fought a Canadian, because he clearly got the second loudest ovation of the night.
The fight started off and pretty much went the way one would expect, with Rich trying to keep the fight standing, and the out of shape Lutter trying to take the fight to the ground where he could try and submit Franklin. The round is a pretty classic match up of striker vs. grappler with Lutter getting the better of the round as he was able to take Franklin down on a couple of occasions and was active in attempting some submissions, but thanks to Rich’s awesome athleticism and scrambling, was able to break free and catch Lutter with a couple of shots throughout the round that obviously had Lutter being cautious. Although the round was entertaining, the edge had to go to Lutter who had the majority of the round in his comfort zone.
Round 2 came out with both fighters obviously trying to keep the same game plan, only this time Rich was still fresh and was landing more shots than the first round, and was able to stop a couple of Lutter’s take-down attempts while landing some blows at the same time. What was even more impressive was the aggression of Franklin to land some knees, which the crowd seemed to want to see as well. Lutter was clearly out of shape, and starting to gas, without really putting up much of a fight, it was clear where this match was headed. Rich finally landed an explosive knee that dropped Lutter and Franklin attacks, it was only a matter of time as the tired and helpless Travis Lutter was not only defeated, but also later dropped by the UFC for his second sub par performance in a row.
The time had come that everyone in the building was waiting for. A year in the making,
Canada’s golden boy of MMA and what many consider to be one of, if not the top pound for pound fighter in the world, Georges St-Pierre was going to avenge the loss he suffered in front of his hometown crowd almost as if he scripted the fight himself.
The history between these two fighters is long and detailed, and tonight it was all coming to a head. It was clear from the weeks leading into the fight, that this was not going to go the distance, and someone was walking out of the octagon as the clear cut champion.
GSP entered the Octagon first to a deafening applause that couldn’t possibly be topped by anyone else but maybe the hometown Montreal Canadians, who lost again earlier that night and would be back at the Bell Centre two days later to play the Bruins in the final game of there series. Only tonight, this was GSP’s house and eyes were on him. This match had many meanings. Was GSP ready and focused and could he prove last years loss was a fluke? Is Matt Serra the real deal or did he get lucky? Is GSP able to handle the load of carrying his hometown and his home country on his back, step up to the challenge and defeat the nasty New York bully who came into his hometown to beat him again?
The time was here and the questions would be answered and in a short time, the fans would go home with the answers to many or these and other questions.
After what seemed like an eternity, GSP had entered the octagon, and it was at that point that this all became surreal, both a fan and friend of the Canadian superhero, I began to get that nervous anxiety that a lot of people get, a combination of nervousness, excitement, and adrenaline. As I along with many other wanted to see GSP thrash his opponent back to his Long Island school of Jiu Jitsu, part of me enjoyed the humor and wit of Matt Serra, who although was fairly controversial in playing up the match, also created a lot of humor and fun with it, and as long as you didn’t read into it too much, played a great role of the villain here to chop down the hometown hero. Up next came the entrance for Matt “The Terra” Serra, tonight, and New York City’s favorite son. You typical 5 foot 6′ Italian American only he has a strong right hand and a black belt in Jiu Jitsu and could have his way with 99% of the people in the building that night.
The match was starting, and as quickly as the crowd cheered, they also became silent for a split second as the reality was here, game time and the puck is about to drop.
As the match started, I couldn’t help but see flashes of what happened last year replay in my mind. Having not only watched the fight dozens of times on Spike TV over the last year, but I was sitting ringside at that same fight last year and will never forget the feeling’s that overcame me that night. In a weird sense of predictions, I had turned to my friends almost a year earlier and said, “Georges doesn’t look the same, he looks tight” only to see him KO’d two minutes later, but this time, I had a much different feeling. I saw a loose, limber, energized and focused GSP, and I knew almost immediately, that unlike his hometown Habs earlier that night, this story would have a happy ending.
Immediately the GSP changed up his game plan from the previous year and takes the dangerous Matt Serra down to the ground almost effortlessly. The 1st round is pretty much a routine round of domination for GSP as he uses his size and strength advantage to keep Serra on his back while attempting to drop elbows and fists to Serra’s head. To Serra’s credit, he comes out of the round fairly unscathed considering he was overwhelmed for most of the round and the crowd senses to feel a little easy now that GSP looks to be back in regular form. The round ends with a nice exchange in which Serra actually lands a couple nice but ineffective shots.
Round 2 begins and the crowd is now into the fight, with deafening soccer chants of “OLE, OLE”. Almost in unison, the crowd is beginning this chant as GSP and Serra go between an up and down battle of GSP taking Serra down almost at will, then exchanging with him standing up. As the round is clearly being controlled by GSP, he begins to show off some of his boxing skills which he has been learning courtesy of world class trainers The Grant Brothers, and lands a series of hard jabs to Serra’s head, who for a minute almost looks like a human piñata being picked apart. GSP attacks again and takes Serra down, only this time Serra is having trouble stopping the aggressive attack of GSP who has now got Matt Serra’s back from the side and unleashes a fury of knees to the midsection and punches to the head. With 15 seconds left in the round, the Ref steps in and puts a stop to what caps off a fairy tale ending for not only Georges St-Pierre, but to millions of fans and Canadians across the world.
Words cannot describe the reaction of the crowd. The building had erupted as Canada’s newest superstar and sports hero defeated his nemesis and in a true show of class by not only the fighters, but the fans also, a rousing applause was given to both competitors after the match as if to say thank you for the laughs, the excitement and the build up. True to Montreal form, the night was still young, and the once quiet streets of Montreal were now filling up with lineups of people looking to attend many of the fight after-parties being put on by fighters and local promoters. For some, this was the perfect end to a great story, and for others, it’s just the beginning.