Sometimes, the greatest and most memorable fight moments occur in the least likely places.
Dedicated fight fans often go to great lengths to watch events live. From late 2010, through early 2013, that meant waking up at the crack of dawn and catching fights at various sports bars around Shanghai, while meeting up with an international crew from Honduras, Iceland, and Colombia.
However, not every Sunday morning could be reserved for watching UFC fights on spotty, legal Chinese streams (yes, before UFC Fight Pass, all fight cards were legally available in China through internet portal Sina). On some occasions, cards were missed altogether, and others, I would watch remotely. This was the case for #UFC155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez II.
There was just no way I could miss this card. Cain and Junior both looked amazing in their previous fights at UFC 146. The co-main event, a lightweight affair between #JimMiller and #JoeLauzon was also on my radar. I knew Lauzon from his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter, and Miller, like me, hailed from New Jersey.
There was just one major problem -- I was due for a long New Year’s Eve weekend on Mount Mogan, 200 kilometers from my place in Shanghai, and 60 kilometers from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province and the nearest glimpse of civilization.
Would the internet cooperate? Would there be any internet at all? I honestly had no idea, but the trip was booked, and there was no way I was backing out.
Arriving in the middle of a rare snow storm late on December 29th, UFC 155 was far from my initial concerns. The road to my hotel was sketchy at best, and rather than approach with caution, the driver decided to plow straight through the slick roads. When we arrived, my first instinct was to down a whiskey and toss around some snowballs. After polishing off a healthy portion of bootleg Jack Daniel’s, sleep came in the form of a collapse. By the time the fight card started, I was nowhere near consciousness.
Having one of those awkward dreams, like the one where your high school coach is being a hardass for no reason, I awoke, startled. I knew there was something I was supposed to be doing, and by the time I actually realized what day it was and how narrowly we escaped death in that storm the day before, Costas Philippou was handily giving it to Tim Boetsch.
The only problem was, the internet was acting like a spoiled dickhead, not cooperating, with the picture on the video player appearing fuzzed out and scrambled.
Frustrated, but nursing a reasonable hangover, I plugged and unplugged, connected and unconnected, missing the end of what would eventually become Philippou’s penultimate win inside the Octagon.
As if the internet Lord Skywalker could feel my angst and hear the lazy wheezing of my venting lungs, wifi finally cooperated just in time for the Miller vs. Lauzon co-main event.
And what a fight it was.
Miller and Lauzon were already seasoned UFC vets by this point. Miller came within a win of facing Benson Henderson for a lightweight title shot. Lauzon was the human bonus machine, routinely pulling off ridiculous submissions, contorting himself in positions that were better suited for the Kama Sutra.
Straight out of the gate, this battle was, as they say, straight fireworks -- straight, bloody fireworks.
Miller, a southpaw, came out aggressive, rattling off punches and kicks, while mixing in knees and elbows. Lauzon was game, but no match for Miller, who opened up a giant crescent-shaped gash on Lauzon’s forehead midway through the first round, even attempting a standing arm triangle. Lauzon escaped the short-lived submission attempt, aided by the lubricant of blood and sweat.
The cageside doctor was quickly called in to evaluate the scene, and the Chinese commentators at Sina, rather unfamiliar with mixed martial arts, scrambled to fill the dead air.
It was at this point that I realized how much Joe Rogan really added to fights. His vast knowledge of MMA and enthusiasm were lost in the mix, and the Chinese commentators just repeatedly said "漂亮" and "流血很多," unable to elaborate.
Lauzon didn’t back down though. Despite the blood, profusely pouring down his face, he hung in, pressing forward, eating everything Miller had to offer.
In the second round, Miller, a BJJ ace, finally took the fight to the mat. Lauzon continued to bleed while threatening from his back. The pair rolled for the majority of the round, with Lauzon reversing toward the ending seconds. There was another brief stoppage; again the Chinese commentators has no idea what was happening, until a cageside official entered with a pair of scissors.
Crafty as they come, Lauzon was even able to attempt a leg lock and D’arce before the end of the round.
And then my worst fear became a reality. The internet shit the bed right before the third frame.
Disconnect. Reconnect. Disconnect. Reconnect. Over and over, for the better part of the final period.
How was this happening in the middle of the fight of the year? What a cruel, cruel irony. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to survive that hellacious drive up the mountain the day before.
With one last-ditch effort, I unplugged the wifi, waiting the customary 10 seconds before re-inserting the cable into the router. Just like that, the feed was back, and Lauzon was attacking Miller’s heel, with both fighters on the ground.
Was it a heel hook? An ankle lock? Achilles lock? The whole sequence was confusing; the commentators were even more lost than me. Regardless, Lauzon quickly transition to a last-ditch guillotine attempt, but the horn sounded before anyone was forced to tap out.
Jim Miller would go on to take the unanimous decision in one of the most spectacular, entertaining, and yes, bloody fights in the promotion's history. It was a perfect match for my obscure mountainside location, and one of the most memorable experiences in my UFC viewing history.