UFC Fight Night Busan took place this past Saturday Night at Sajik Arena in what was an entertaining international sporting event not usually seen in Busan.
10,651 spectators came to watch the 13 fights that were scheduled, including six undercard and seven fights, including the main event of The Korean Zombie vs. Frankie Edgar.
All in all, the event went off without any major glitches with more good than bad, so let’s took a look at what went down on Saturday night.
The Fans — The fans made a great atmosphere at the event, with hometown favorites, of course, getting the loudest cheers. The fans were sophisticated and knowledgable about the sport said UFC Asia Pacific Senior VP Kevin Chang after the event and said they are hoping to bring another UFC event back to the peninsula sooner than later.
The Fights — While the fight card might not have featured many ‘big’ names, the fights themselves were very entertaining, save for maybe the undercard heavyweight fight of Cyril Game vs. Tanner Boser which seemed a bit slow. The fight of the night went to Charles Jourdain vs. Choi Doo-ho in an exciting two-round high-flying fight that could have gone either way.
The Atmosphere — The UFC staff themselves put on a great show with great music, videos and made for an exciting fight venue. They run a tight ship and are top-notch in putting on a great show for the fans.
“It was unbelievable fighting at home. The cheers and energy from the fans were unreal. They gave me the strength to get this win,” said Da-un Jung who defeated Mike Rodriguez via KO in the first round.
The Korean Zombie’s TKO of Edgar at 3:18 of the first round was also an amazing experience for fight fans and those who paid top dollar to watch it.
An interesting anecdote at The Korean Zombie’s post-fight interview — he revealed to the press that he has lately been seeing double and needs eye surgery. It was a hell of a performance even with his eye problems matched only by Brazilian Alexandre Pantoja who both shared the “Performance of the Night” award with The Zombie.
The Venue — While Busan doesn’t really have many options to host an event of this magnitude, Sajik Arena was surely a disappointment as far as venues go. The entire building is old, cold, and the city could well use a newer facility to host more top entertainment options like the UFC.
Once again, the venue — While Busan always tries to put its best foot forward, something always gets in the way of making what could be a great event… great.
In this case, the venue caused some embarrassment that many people did and didn’t see.
First off, the concession stands were not up to any standards of what a professional venue should have. Sites reminiscent of a 1990’s Korean movie theater with a table of snacks and a used box full of money were common then, and it was also seen at the UFC event. It was a free-for-all with so many people trying to buy anything they could with no order set up at all. They also ran out of most foods and beer before the fights were close to an end.
Second and more importantly was the one that wasn’t seen. With a large media contingent in town for the event, it was a chance to get some good international exposure for the city.
However, at the event itself, the press center was held in what looked like a 1970’s gymnasium with no heaters whatsoever and frigid temperatures. Almost all of the reporters and UFC staff complained continuously about the facilities which once again didn’t leave the best impression of Busan.
Years back when Yeongnam was hosting the first Korea Grand Prix Formula 1 races, the press had a field day ridiculing Korea and local organizers for putting them up in love hotels then renting them out by the hour when they were at the track. While it’s obviously not that extreme, the press are the first line of influencers of extolling a city or country’s strong and weak points and their press room didn’t leave a great taste in people’s mouths after earlier hosting successful press events at the Lotte Hotel during the week.
Overall, UFC Fight Night Busan was a great night for the city and the UFC, and we can only hope for more international events to come to the city in the near future and a few tweaks to make them better.