Sunday, Aug. 30, 2009 | 10:13 a.m.
Classic rock returned to dominate the airwaves in Portland at UFC 102. Both The Rolling Stones and AC/DC were represented by two fighters apiece who entered the Rose Garden Arena to their songs. Rap and Top 40 songs were kept to a minimum while fighters chose more unusual tracks like Johnny Cash covers, Moby and even classical music.
Johnny Cash songs are ringside regulars as fighters often choose the singer for the gravitas of his voice and lyrics. Aaron Simpson put a new spin on an old classic by choosing “Ring of Fire” as his walk-in music. Only this time it wasn’t the Man in Black behind the mic, but rather Social Distortion. The modernized classic still retained the meaning of Cash’s original song as Simpson equated fighting to entering the “burning ring of fire.”
As far as rap choices go, UFC 102 saw its share of trite walk-in music like Marcus Aurelio’s selection, “Hate Me Now” by Nas and Jake Rosholt’s use of Fabolous’ “It’s My Time.” Those were fine to get the crowd singing, but Justin McCully’s choice of Common and Pharrell’s “Universal Mind Control” struck the perfect balance between catchy dance beats and lyrics with a message. Common’s words painted a picture of the new era of power- money, fame, and all that comes with it. The rapper confidently stated, “I am a renegade/ I have never been afraid,” as McCully reached the Octagon. Though fear may not have been an issue, McCully’s opponent, Michael Russow, was able to exercise universal body control over him to win a unanimous decision.
Brandon Vera chose The Black Eyed Peas’ “Bebot,” paying homage to his Filipino roots. Most of the song is in Tagalog and repeats the word “Filipino” over and over, erasing doubt that Vera is anything but proud of his heritage.
While Metallica is a more standard walk in choice, Thiago Silva personalized his metal selection, opting for Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura. Their song “Ratamahatta” starts with tribal chants that might have let the fighter gather his thoughts for a moment before confidently marching in to the screaming Portuguese and English lyrics that commanded respect with their ferocity. Silva commanded that same respect inside the Octagon as he defeated formidable opponent, Keith Jardine, early in the first round.
Though Jardine did not emerge victorious, his bold selection of Moby’s “Extreme Ways” was a strong choice for a walk in tune. The title alone embodied what the “Dean of Mean” was bringing to the fight. Much of Moby’s music walks the line between mellow peacefulness and intensity, a good combination for a fighter to strive for.
Nate Marquardt won the award for most unique walk-in music with “O Fortuna-Carmina Burana,” a symphonic classic that has been featured in many films during their most intense scenes. When you hear the opening plaintive vocals of this powerful ballad, you know something big is about to go down, in this case, quite literally. Marquardt dropped Demian Maia to the ground and finished the fight in a mere 21 seconds.
Surprisingly, that wasn’t the fastest knockout of the night. Todd Duffee knocked out Tim Hague in a record breaking seven seconds, though his walk-in music seemed unfitting to this great accomplishment. The vocals on the song were drowned out by the instrumentation and roaring crowd, to the point that the song had no identity or even a good beat to follow. Fortunately for Duffee, he gave the crowd an unforgettable memory to hold on to since his walk-in music was out of fans’ heads before he even set foot in the Octagon.
The final fights of the night, between legends Antonio Minotauro Nogueira and Randy Couture, fittingly featured classic rock walk in songs. Couture marched in to AC/DC’s “Live Wire,” indicating that he was still, “...as cool as a body on ice/Or hotter than a rollin’ dice.”
Nogueira, despite being more than 10 years his opponent’s junior, is definitely a true UFC veteran. He came down the tunnel to The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” a song that added that an air of intensity with its shouts of, “War, children, it’s just a shot away.” As the two experienced fighters slugged it out in the cage, Couture won several battles by miraculously emerging from a near knockout and several submission attempts, but it was Nogueira who won the war.