AFTER attending so many sporting events over the years, I was determined to do something of cultural significance, whatever that means, for a change of pace.
Fight night was extreme,
to say the least
Maybe attend a play. Or a movie. Perhaps some live music?
Then the phone rang. It was my friend "Bus Driver Bob."
"Hey, brah, let's go to X-treme fighting tonight," he said.
Great idea, especially since I missed Super Brawls I and II.
So we arrived at Blaisdell Arena and I started to run for my life, but was tackled by Bus Bob and dragged back into the line.
Maybe it was the signs above the entrance that frightened me.
One read: "Unless you ARE a convicted felon, you will NOT be allowed inside."
Also: "If you are NOT carrying a concealed weapon, we will be happy to provide you with one."
The crowd was even scarier.
I would conservatively estimate that 3,999 of the 4,000 in attendance had been featured on "America's Most Wanted."
One fan, for example, had his entire face tattooed and - get this - his girlfriend had an earring through her eyeball.
The extreme fighters were even more intimidating.
Here are some of the rules, which were printed on a flier given to each fan, along with souvenir brass knuckles.
Let me summarize: Attacking the opponent's spine is illegal. But don't let that get you down, because head butts are OK.
Hey, maybe Dennis Rodman has a future in this sport after basketball. On the other hand, groin kicks are illegal, which might discourage Rodman.
Biting is illegal, but knee and elbow strikes to the head, body and legs are just dandy.
And you should have seen the referee. Check this out: I thought the ref was munching on sunflower seeds before the first bout, but when I looked more closely it was a bag of thumbtacks.
Well, here's the part that many of my faithful readers will enjoy: How I almost got killed.
ONE of the promoters spotted me in the crowd - I kind of stood out wearing an aloha shirt and baseball cap instead of a black leather jacket - and signaled for us to come sit at ringside.
Again, Bus Bob tackled me as I tried to flee and the next thing I knew we were within range of being splattered with blood.
Suddenly, this guy came up to me and angrily waved a small sign in my face. It read: RESERVED FOR V. GRACIE.
Even Bus Bob looked concerned and whispered in my ear: "That's the top ultimate fighter in the world. He's from Brazil and has a 700-0 record. And you're in his seat, brah."
The man's goatee, which had been sharpened like an ax blade, was now inches from my face and he was foaming at the mouth.
So I did what any other respectable journalist would do - I dove under the ring.
A few minutes later, Bus Bob poked his head under the ring apron and said "You can come out. They found Gracie another seat."
The fights were pretty brutal.
A lad named "Pitbull" had a sizable chunk of flesh missing from the back of his head and another fighter had his eyelid swell up to the size of a baseball in a matter of seconds.
Then the big blow was delivered by an underdog named, I'm serious, "Danny Boy."
He kicked this dude so hard in the head that his eyes rolled around like plums on a slot machine.
After they hustled him off to the emergency room, I thought he had a 50-50 chance to live. But a ringside doctor lessened my concern: "Ah, he'll just have a headache for a few days."
The highlight of the night was when a guy's tooth got knocked out and tumbled to a halt on the canvas just a few feet from us.
"That was awesome," Bus Bob solemnly reflected afterward as we had a few beers in the peace and safety of a Waikiki tavern.
"I should have grabbed that tooth for a souvenir."