By Roderick Wilbon, Sports Editor
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Fight Night St. Louis took place January 14 at the Scottrade Center. It was the debut of the UFC in St. Louis. The UFC main card was packed with fan favorites, diversity, legends, and hometown guys. Fight Night St. Louis promised a lot to St. Louis fans and it delivered on every account.
The main card consisted of: Darren Elkins vs Michael Johnson; Kamaru Usman vs Emil Meek; Paige VanZant vs Jessica-Rose Clark; Jeremy Stephens vs Dooho Choi. We were supposed to get a retirement fight from Vitor Belfort but Uriah Hall did not make weight for the fight. Vitor also did not want to fight his last-minute replacement fighter.
The UFC held a great workout day the day before fight night. It was open to the public and any MMA fan would have loved to have been there. Fans got firsthand looks at light training from fighters and then an autograph/selfie session. Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley made appearances around town as the reigning Welterweight Champion and the Ambassador to UFC in St. Louis. “It’s great that this is happening; I’ve wanted the UFC to come to St. Louis for a long time,” said Woodley. “St. Louis is a fight city and a great town.”
Fight Night packed a sold-out crowd of 10,052 into Scottrade and it had all the elements of a pay-per-view. Bruce Buffer announced the fighters with his, “It’s Time!!” Fans roared for their favorites and in return the punches and kicks were just as audible. The ring girls were in attendance and well represented. Dana White UFC President sat cage side and brought out Matt Hughes a UFC Hall of Famer and Hillsboro, Illinois native. The crowd gave a standing ovation after learning that Matt Hughes is doing much better after his accident with a train. He walked under his own power through the crowd to sit next to White.
“I love St. Louis, I loved the crowd here,” said White. “This place is already screaming for me to bring a Pay-per-view back here and we will absolutely do that.”