366 Days: Feb. 24-26

Sunday, Feb. 26 — Apparently, I had too much fun last night. I woke up to an extremely sore lower back, lumbar. I’d like to remember what I did to do that, but I know it was hurting me on Saturday night at the fights. So there ya go. I’m sitting here in pain and a column due Monday night. Those two things are mutually exclusive. It just won’t make for a comfortable weekend.

The Daytona 500 is in a rain delay. Wow, what a shock. The WGC Match Play finals are on. It is storming outside and the Oscars are tonight. I actually planned on getting outside and getting one or two things done. It looks like this post may be the only thing I get done today.

Thus, I’ll retire to an ice bath once this is done.

Saturday, Feb. 25 — There is an old adage that once you cross the Grays Harbor County line, it’ll either start raining if you are driving into the West and it’ll stop raining when you are driving into the East.

Point proven: Storming rain and wind at home and all the way through to Elma before it tapered down to the Straddleline ORV Park that is on the Grays Harbor County line. Once I drove past, the rain was gone and the sun was out. On the way home, it went from raging rain storm in Olympia to raging rain and wind storm in Elma. You can’t have it both ways, I guess.

The Emerald Queen Casino, a Puyallup Tribe establishment, is a two-campus casino that started with a steamboat at the Port of Tacoma and has moved to a perfectly located spot on Interstate-5 in Fife and a bit of a tough-to-get-to location in Tacoma, a stone’s throw away from the Tacoma Dome.

Saturday night’s mixed martial arts fights (CageSport) was at the Tacoma location, taking over the tarp roofed ballroom for a sold-out show. And, with some standing room only spots, it was a full house. This was my first live MMA coverage event and it wasn’t bad. With the room small enough to create a very intimate feel, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. However, the best seats were either in the first two rows around the cage or on stage in the bleachers. You had to get close enough to see everything or high up enough to look over the main audience. Everyone else either moved their heads around or stood up.

The media table was the last row on the floor, with a table and the stage right behind you. A somewhat tough view to take in the fights, it was a little tougher when you got fighters’ friends rotating in the seats in front of you to stand, jump and shout throughout that particular bout.

This was the view from press row at Saturday's CageSport XVIII at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma. (RobRVR photo)

Aberdeen's Jeff Hatton listens to Jimmy Lemmon Jr. introduce him before his fight at CageSport XVIII at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma. (RobRVR photo)

Honestly, this is a minor complaint. I was able to see everything by standing and telling a few people that they had to sit down. When you have a notepad in front of you and your name marks your spot, people tend to think you have a little bit of pull or you’re there to work. Oh, no fights in the crowd. Nice. And if there were any, there was more than enough security to send the pugilists flying out of the room. Overall, a good spot to see everything

Of course, the spot and circumstance allowed for some people watching. Most of the young crowd were dressed either for a big night out or in support of their fighters. One couple in front of me was more into themselves than the fights.

Self-portraits during the fights on Saturday.

You can see which guys were “hitting above their weight” and which ladies who were looking to leave with someone other than their girlfriends they brought with them. Yeah, not much else have changed. There was enough old fight guys and fight fans there to bring the crowd to a overflowing crescendo when the action inside the ring dictated.

Ten fights on Saturday, none of them went the distance or even got into the third round. The main event was just 1:30 when David “Hollywood” Hulett damn near snapped Len Bently’s Achilles Heel for a submission victory. The crowd wasn’t happy about it, almost sprinting for the escalator stairs down to the gaming rooms when the bell sounded. From where I was, I thought it might have been a low blow, but I saw the replay — an Achilles Heel lock (which I thought was an ankle lock) — and it was a submission. He couldn’t put much weight on it when he walked to the back.

Most of the column on the night will be on Aberdeen’s Jeff Hatton, who won easily in his bantamweight bout. He was supposed to right for the CageSport title, but the beltholder backed out of the fight, from what I was told. Nothing official about that, however. Hatton’s a good kid and it’ll be interesting to see where he goes with his new management group in the future.

One more good thing: Met legendary ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. Nice guy.

Played some slots to wait out the crowd and the traffic, got comp’d and took home a pizza.

Friday, Feb. 24 — You know your life isn’t all that exciting when the highlight of the day was a stop off at Trader Joe’s before a regional basketball game.

Took a few photos…

Sasquatch swimming on the walls of Trader Joe's

Courtside at Timberline High School for regional basketball on Friday night.

Bought some dark chocolate powerberries and two bottles of Trader Joe’s Dark Ale, which comes in a corked bottle, to take home. I haven’t tried the beer yet (as of this writing), but it may have to wait a bit.

Addendum: MMA fighters came out to an eclectic mix of music, but the best one came from a guy who was making his debut against another guy who was making his debut, Brent “Slaughter” Knopp – Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonne Cut You Down” (Knopp won by TKO in the second round against Missoula, Montana’s Mike “Caveman” Kirkman.)

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