Sunday, March 20, 2011 | 9:45 p.m.
With tracks from Social Distortion, The Who, AC/DC and Credence Clearwater Revival, the airwaves in The Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., were filled with all the classics. Despite the classic rock, several of the “classic” fighters fell to the new guard.
Ricardo Almeida got the classic rock ball rolling when he opted for Social Distortion’s “Ball and Chain.” Lyrics like “A broken nose and a broken heart/An empty bottle of gin,” do not seem terribly appropriate for a fighter, but it's hard to beat the well-known guitar riffs in the song. Almeida put in a solid performance but lost a close decision to Mike Pyle.
Pyle trotted down the tunnel to Fort Minor’s “Remember the Name.” The dramatic intro with elements of violin lead into a staccato beat that added an element of focused intensity, a great feature in a walk-in song. After his victory over Almeida, more fans are going to remember his name.
Younger up-and-comer Brendan Schaub, finalist from The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweights season, invited veteran opponent Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović to “Square Dance” with him in the octagon. Opting for his usual Eminem rap, Schaub extended his winning streak to four wins with his knockout victory over Cro Cop. His Knockout of the Night performance asserted that he has, indeed, “Never been the type to bend or budge.” The future looks bright for this heavyweight standout.
Despite getting knocked out inside the octagon, Filipović’s entry was one for the highlight reel. Akin to the first time Yoshiro Akiyama walked in to Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman’s “Time to Say Goodbye,” Mirko Cro Cop chose a hauntingly beautiful operatic piece, Ennio Morricone’s "Ecstasy of Gold."
The theme song from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly likely stunned a good portion of the crowd as this was far from the usual rap and rock fare served up at UFC fights. The intensely dramatic tune could be one of the ideal songs to mentally prepare a fighter for battle. Unfortunately, mental preparedness is only part of the winning formula and Cro Cop came up short in the physical department in what may prove to be his last UFC fight.
Nate Marquardt and Dan Miller kicked off the classic rock theme on the main card with a pair of songs that weren't strangers in past UFC playlists. Miller went with “Run Through the Jungle” by Credence Clearwater Revival, which provided an anthemic pump-you-up entrance.
Marquardt opted for The Who’s “Eminence Front.” The lengthy instrumental intro served as a powerful prelude to his battle in the cage. Marquardt proved his own “Eminence Front” was too much for Miller, as he gained a 30-27 unanimous decision.
Dan Miller’s brother Jim piggybacked on Dan’s CCR choice and chose “Bad Moon Rising” as his walk in tune. Miller proved there was indeed a “bad moon on the rise” for his opponent Kamal Shalorus, who dropped to Miller’s uppercut/knee combo late in the third round.
Shalorus chose a fun but unusual walk-in song. Jamie Foxx’s “Blame it on the Alcohol” seems more of an afterparty tune than an entrance song, but it nevertheless got the crowd involved. Perhaps he chose that song so he would have a built in excuse if he lost.
Eliot Marshall followed Schaub’s Eminem example with “Cinderella Man,” another track from the popular rapper. The lyrics like, “I’m about to punch you to the ground,” outlined his mission plan, but unfortunately for him, Marshall’s coach turned into a pumpkin midway through the first round when he succumbed to Luiz Cane’s intense ground and pound.
Cane opted for a genre not often heard in the octagon: reggae rap. He chose the Nas and Damian Marley song “Strong Will Continue.” As the title suggests, this was an appropriate song to prepare a fighter for an intense bout. The chorus echoed, “Only the strong will continue/I know you have it in you.” Cane proved he does have it in him and cemented his position as a fighter to keep an eye on this year.
Returning to the classics, Eddie Wineland kept with the theme of the evening and chose “Shoot to Thrill” by AC/DC. A lesser-utilized track from a band often heard in the octagon, this song asserted Wineland’s confidence. The Aussie rockers chanted, “I'm gonna pull it, pull it, pull the trigger/Shoot to thrill, play to kill” as Wineland entered the arena and attempted to steady his thoughts and game plan.
“The California Kid” Urijah Faber appropriately entered to Tupac Shakur’s “California Love.” The former WEC featherweight champ got some New Jersey love from the crowd as he made his way to a unanimous decision victory over Wineland.
In the main event, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua changed the tone with trance music as he came out to “Sail” by Dutch producer and DJ Armin van Buuren. The upbeat club anthem lent itself to the idea of “beat up the beat,” making it somewhat appropriate for a fight scenario and its peppy upbeat nature definitely pumped up the champ for his impending battle. Unfortunately for him, his experience was no match for Jon Jones’ explosiveness and he succumbed in the third round.
Jones again walked out to 50 Cent’s “God Gave Me Style” which transitioned into ”Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. The New York native was likely eager to show off his hometown pride and also hint at his support for the UFC’s quest to legalize MMA in the state of New York. It is up to each fan’s beliefs as to how much style God gave him but one thing is true, Dana White gave him a title shot and he truly capitalized on that.