There’s a different atmosphere surrounding this event. I don’t know if it’s the fact that the teams have basically been removed from the equation, or if it’s the added pressure of having the championship belts on the line, but the mood here is definitely more intense. Almost all the coaches are here and the best fighters from each time, so at times it almost seems like a weird family reunion. To go along with it, there is the gossip.
Last night I talked with one of the TV producers who quietly suggested I talk to Brent Beauparlant. He indicated that Beauparlant was pissed off that no one is giving him a chance to beat Benji Radach tomorrow night. It’s odd for anyone to describe Beauparlant as pissed off. He’s usually a calm, intelligent, and affable guy. While I wouldn’t say he’s not those things now, he is definitely a more animated version of them.
I called Beauparlant last night and he invited me to his room for an interview. It was the first time I ever interviewed a guy while he sat under the covers in bed. Let’s hope it’s the last. Beauparlant made it very clear that while he wasn’t upset at Radach (who he generously described as “a gentleman”), he was upset at pretty much everyone else. No one thinks he even has a shot tomorrow night. Even Beauparlant thinks his fight was chosen for the live broadcast portion of the card because a) Radach is poster boy material for the IFL and b) Beauparlant can take a beating and put on a good show.
It’s not hard to see how that might irk a guy, even a quiet Canadian. But Beauparlant was more than irked. He was fired up (for a Canadian). He seemed ready to get out of bed and tear Radach’s head off right then. While I’m not prepared to say that I’m picking Beauparlant in this fight, I am now much more interested in seeing what happens.
Beauparlant hinted at having a very specific game plan he wanted to impose. He said if Radach doesn’t knock him out in the first two minutes, the fight is his. Then again, Radach has knocked several people out in the first two minutes.
The other thing I keep hearing is a general concern regarding Bart Palaszewski. More than once I’ve heard people wondering aloud where his head is these days. He has a new baby, he’s training more with Jeff Curran and not as much with Pat Miletich, and people are starting to wonder if he’s as motivated and focused as he needs to be for this fight. Horodecki is a tough customer for anyone, much less for someone not a hundred percent ready.
I can’t say yet if it’s just idle speculation, but it should be interesting to see if Palaszewski really shows up for that fight tomorrow. If he doesn’t, he’s in trouble.
Finally, I ended the evening last night by walking back to the hotel at 2 am with John Gunderson. He wasn’t out drinking, but he was, he said, intentionally staying up late on the days before the fight. He said he did it on purpose so that when fight time rolls around at 10 or maybe even 11 pm, his body isn’t expecting to go to sleep. I had to admit it made a certain kind of sense, and after discussing it further we dubbed it “The Diggstown Principle” (if you don’t get the reference, sorry, but I just don’t have it in me to give a plot summary of Diggstown at the moment. You can Netflix it).
On the docket for today is the weigh-in, which will be held at the always-classy Buffalo Wild Wings. I could try and tell you that I won’t eat my weight in wings before this trip is over, but I’d just be lying to myself.