The New Mexico Bowl & Jackson’s MMA Series! (NM) “DAY 167” – 12/18/10

December 21, 2010 - 10:54 am - (NM) “DAY 167” - Week 23 - State 22

When I got up today, I knew it was gonna be another long one because I was going to New Mexico Bowl today and tonight, I was going to Jackson’s MMA Series at the Hard Rock Casino. (This event is put on by Greg Jackson of Jackson’s Submission Fighting in Alburquerque, NM.)

F.Y.I. - Greg Jackson is one of best MMA coach/trainers and recently won 3 World MMA Awards.  He won "Best Coach" and "Best Gym" in 2009 as well as "Coach of the Year" in 2010. (Right: Greg Jackson, with towel over his shoulder.)

I’ll talk about that more later in the post because that doesn’t come into play until 7 pm.  So with all this on my plate, I didn’t have time to write again today.  (I’m 3 days behind at this point.) 🙁  Ahhh!

5th Annual New Mexico Bowl
Since the NM Bowl started at noon, I got up at 9 am and immediately headed over to the stadium parking lot to see what the tailgating scene was gonna be like.  (I checked out of my room and again I’m off for the day without a place to stay.)

Tailgating
I arrived at the parking lot outside of the NM Bowl around 9:30 am.  The scene was pretty cool for families because the NM Bowl set a festival type atmosphere in the parking lot.

In the parking lot was a bunch of blow up stuff for kids to play on and somehow... they even got Santa Claus to take a break from the North Pole to come down and let the Rooster sit on his lap! 😉

Finding A “Real” Tailgate
After walking through the family area, I found my way to the UTEP Alumni Tailgate.  Basically, I bunch of Alumni set up a tent and threw a small pre-game party for the fans of the Miners.  I was invited in but only stayed long enough to get a few pictures.

This wasn’t the tailgate I was looking for although it was set-up nicely. 😉  So, I thanked them for the invite but left on my search for the tailgate I’m used to partying at.

Finding The Tailgate I’m Used To!
It didn’t take long because I took maybe 50 steps further into the parking lot before I spotted exactly where I was suppose to hang out before the game.  It was impossible to miss because in front of me was a huge red Lobo truck (or contraption) built just for tailgating!

As I always do because I’m not a tailgate crasher, I found the person who’s tailgate it was and introduced myself.  The owner’s of this tailgating super truck were Brad and Barbara.  They are locals who go to every UNM Lobo football game and everybody knows them here.

F.Y.I. - Brad payed football for the Lobos from 1968-72 and ever since he has stayed in Albuquerque.  This tailgate as well as the one’s he throws all year are filled with Ex-Lobo players.  Mainly, there are from the team’s he played on but all are welcome as I found out. 🙂

Anyway, after meeting Brad he immediately invited me into his tailgate.  The first thing he did was to make sure I had plate of freshly cooked BBQ. (It was real good, the ribs fell right off the bone.)

And the second thing he did was to make sure I had a drink in my hand. (This truck not only has every cooking appliance necessary but it also holds two kegs!)  He also serves jello shots that are in a plastic syringe type container when somebody rings the bell.

I stayed here and hung out Brad and the boys until it was time for me to enter the stadium.  I had a great time with these guys as they were just like me and friends except they have a few years on us. 😉  Thank you Brad and Barbara!  Keep partying! 🙂

New Mexico Bowl - BYU vs. UTEP
It was around 11:30 am when I entered the stadium to see the NM Bowl between BYU and UTEP.  Now, since I had a press pass, I didn’t have to worry about finding a ticket or parking or paying for food during the game. (A press pass provides all that.)

But on the other hand, since I am here in a professional capacity and have to write a story for a magazine back in Phoenix, it’s kind of a job so I do have work to accomplish.  (I say “kind of” because I love sports and writing, so it doesn’t feel like work.) 😉

Also, by having a press pass you are allowed basically anywhere in the stadium.  You can be in the stands, on the field (pre and post game), and then obviously... in the press box.

The Press Box
For the whole game, I stayed in the press box.  I did this for a few reasons. 1.) It was cold out, not bitter cold but cold enough. 2.) I did have to write a story and the information they provide is unparalleled. 3.) Food and drinks are complimentary. 🙂

The only bad thing about being in the press box is you “CAN’T” cheer at all during the game.  Now, I’m not a fan of either team, so I don’t have a passion either way but you’re not allowed to cheer at all, even for a great play. 🙁 (People are working, that’s why.)

The Game Itself
Unfortunately for the fans, the game was never a good one as BYU destroyed UTEP from start to finish.  They scored at will, their line dominated on both sides of the ball, and they didn’t make many mistakes.  A perfect recipe for a W.

I say it’s unfortunate for the fans because as a writer... it was a dream game.  I say that because half-way through the 1st quarter you could have started writing your story about the game (and many people did).  It was that much of a lopsided blow-out!

MVP Ballot
One of the real cool things about being in the press box for a Bowl Game is that you have a vote for the players of the game (Offensive & Defensive MVP).

Most people gave the Offensive award to the BYU’s Freshman QB, Jake Heaps but I gave it to the BYU O-line.  Yes, Heaps played great and could have deserved the award but the O-line for BYU made it so nobody was near him all day.  Not to mention, they opened huge holes for the running game too. (Heaps won the award.)

On defense, I don’t think anybody could have given it to anybody else besides BYU safety Andrew Rich.  He was dominant all day with stats to back it up (five tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and two interceptions).

Leaving The Game
I stayed until the end of the game but didn’t stay for the post game press-conference.  I was just to tired from 4 days of non-stop activities and I had already written my story so there was no need for me to stay.

Finding A Place To Stay
It was now around 3:30 pm and like I just said, I was tired.  So, I had to decide where I was gonna stay for the night.  Tomorrow (Sunday), I’m leaving town to head to Denver, CO which is north, but the MMA event is at Hard Rock (7 pm), which is 15 miles south.

Huh?  What should I do?  I was so tired and cranky at that moment, that I didn’t even care if I went to the MMA event later and was only thinking about getting to Denver tomorrow.  So, with that in mind, I went back to the Motel 6 I stayed at the first two days I was in town (30 miles north of the Hard Rock).

Motel 6
I got to the Motel 6 and paid another $38 for the night (well worth it).  By the time I got to my room it was 4 pm and I can honestly say... I fell asleep on my motel bed in 5 seconds flat.  It wasn’t because it was so comfy either.

When I woke up, it was 6 pm and I felt like a new man.  Perfect! 🙂  I was now re-motivated to take the drive south to see Jackson’s MMA series at the Hard Casino & Hotel. (I was still happy with my Hotel decision because it puts 30 miles closer in the morning.)

Hard Rock Casino - Jackson’s MMA Series
I arrived at the Hard Rock a little after 7 pm which worked out because the actual fights started at 7:30 pm.  On the card for tonight’s event was 5 amateur fights and 5 pro  fights.

The was also a co-main event for tonight’s card which featured one woman’s fight and a battle between two 145 lbs fighters (Johnny Bedford vs. Frank Gomez).  It doesn’t matter to me because in MMA... you never know what the best fight will be! 😉

Entering The Show
After getting my pass for the event (Press), I walked through the security line and into the venue.  Again, the good thing about having a press pass is you allowed anywhere (with-in reason).  So even though I didn’t have an assigned seat, I sat wherever was open. 😉

Since I had never seen a show here, I was impressed with how the set-up was.  What I mean is, every seat in the arena had a good view of the fights and if you didn’t have a good angle, there was a big screen perfectly placed for everybody to see. 🙂

The Fights Begin
It was now 7:30 pm, time for the fights begin!  So I found a seat near the cage and bunkered down for what turned out to be a great night of fights.  The first 5 contests were amateur bouts but that didn’t mean bad fights because they were all entertaining.

During these fights I was so close, I was able to hear the trainers giving advice in the corner.  That was cool but what was even cooler was that for some of the fights, Greg Jackson (top coach/trainer) let his star students be the corner men.

So for the first fight, UFC veteran and fan favorite Keith Jardine cornered the fight for the Jackson’s camp fighter (Johan Perez).  During the evening, Jardine cornered a few other fights and at some point, my favorite fighter, Clay Guida made an appearance and helped out in what ever way he could.

F.Y.I. - Seeing all of the pro-fighter’s there was not only cool because you got to see pro-fighters, but mainly because they were so grounded and down to earth.  For example: Clay Guida was holding the spit bucket or taking pictures for the younger fighters.  So cool! 🙂 (Right: Clay Guida)

Also during the course of the night, I interviewed each of Greg Jackson’s top fighters who were in attendance.  First was Clay Guida (my favorite fighter), then was Keith Jardine, followed by Diego Sanchez, and lastly I spoke with Greg Jackson himself after the event had ended.

The Ring Girls - Woo Hoo!
Now, I’m not the guy who’s there to see the ring girls per-se’ but these girls were so hot you couldn’t help but stare!  And... I was sitting so close to them I was able to get some great pictures of them coming in and out of the cage.

Now, I don’t want you to think I’m pervert for these pictures but come’on... these girls were just so ridiculously hot that I couldn’t help myself.  And... I wasn’t the only one.

When the fights ended, there were as many people hanging around to get a picture with the rings girls as they did the fighters.  They looked that good! 🙂  (I was one of them and got a great picture of me with the 3 hot rings girls!) Thanks girls! 🙂

The Pro Fights
As I said earlier, all the fights were good, even the amateur ones, but the best fight of the night was definitely the girl fight between hometown favorite Julie Kenzie and her undefeated opponent, Sarah D’Aleilo.

The Girls Battle
Now, for many of you who aren’t fight fans you might think I liked this fight the best because it was two girls beating each other up.  Well... that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

These girls put on a show of skill, toughness, and a will to win that won over the whole crowd!  The fight was evenly matched for the first 2 rounds but in the 3rd, Julie took over and laid the smack-eth down on her opponent.

She didn’t get the knock out but she out matched her foe in every area of the fight game for the final 3 minutes.  After the fight ended, I got picture with both fighters because they put on show and definitely gave the crowd their money’s worth!  Great fight ladies!

The Other Main Event
The final of the evening was between local fighter Frank Gomez and Johnny Bedford.  Now, I can’t say this for a fact but the buzz was... the winner was gonna get a shot in the UFC in the new 145 lbs division they just acquired from the WEC.

Anyway, the fight didn’t last long as Bedford landed a quick submission early in the first round.  It was surprise to the crowd as well as to Gomez because you could see the pain in his face from the defeat. (He wasn’t physically hurt, he was mentally destroyed.)  Of the 10 fights, this was the only lose for Jackson's camp.

Interviewing Greg Jackson
After the show ended, I made my way backstage to find Greg Jackson so I could get an interview.  When I found him, he was already being interviewed by a TV station so I waited patiently until he was finished there first.

A few minutes later, Mr. Jackson was available so I approached him for a short interview.  Now, for a guy who is coach to some of the top fighters in the world and who has recently been recognized for his accomplishments... he is as humble as can be! 🙂

What I thought would be a quick interview turned into a 10 minutes discussion about everything MMA.  I asked him many questions about his success and each time... he deflected credit and gave it all to the fighters he trained.  What a class act!

Eventually, I did point out that not only does the fighters he train’s win, but that they are typically very exciting fights.  I mention this because I feel that the best fighters in the world (A.K.A. Clay Guida) aren’t necessarily the one’s who win every fight but are the one’s who always put on exciting contest!

Again, Mr. Jackson is so humble, he barely gave himself any credit for that except he did say, (para-phrase), - That he trains his fighters to win but is aware this is business and exciting fights are part of what makes this sport great.  I hope to accomplish both when I train a fighter.

Leaving The Event
By the time I finally left the Hard Rock, it was after 11 pm. (Another real long day.)  Knowing I had a 7 hour drive to Denver in the morning, I got in my car and headed back to my room 30 miles north at the Motel 6.

Motel 6
When I got to my room, I was still kinda amped from the fights so I couldn’t fall asleep.  This worked out good because it gave me time to upload and name all the pictures I hadn’t had time to file.  Not to mention, the 263 pictures I took today. 🙁

I worked on my laptop for the next 3 hours until I fell asleep while typing.  I had another great day, another great week, and in the morning I will say good-bye to Albuquerque and head off to Denver where I get see one of my best friend’s again (Sadie). 🙂

Thanks for reading!

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  1. DAD says:

    I’m not much of an MMA fan but as for the ring girls,
    outstanding!!!!! Sounds like another successful tailgate and more new readers. Nice job.

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