I’m current sitting in the SAS Business Lounge at Stockholm’s Arlanda International Airport getting ready to board my plane back to the United States. I’ve slept a total of two hours over the last 2 days, so hopefully I’ll be able to relax and sleep once I get on the plane.
Last night was a great night of fights. The arena was amazing. The crowd was awesome. The fighters all brought it and put on great performances. I was very impressed with the level of talent exhibited by the Scandinavian fighters on the card, who collectively amassed a 3-3 record on the night.
I don’t think anyone is surprised that Brad Pickett and Damacio Page put in a “Fight of the Night” performance. They both have a history of doing so. Pickett looked greatly improved from his last performance against Renan Barao. Page looked a bit jittery, perhaps from the long layoff, but still did a solid job.
In the main event, Stockholm’s Alexander Gustafsson thoroughly dominated Thiago Silva over the course of three rounds to score a unanimous decision. It was Gustafsson’s first career decision. It looked like the fight would be over before it even started when Gustafsson landed a barrage early in the first round that nearly put Silva out. However, the Brazilian hung on and battled back. There were moments when Silva landed some good shots, but he never had Gustafsson in any danger. The partisan crowd warmed up to Silva by the end and cheered on both men in the closing moments of the third round.
Below is a gallery of images from my take last night. You can also check out the full take on UFC.com and Getty Images. I will try to add more images to the gallery when I get back to the states.
As I write this entry, it’s 3:45 am here in Stockholm, Sweden. I’ve been on the ground now for a little over a day, but haven’t really had much time to check out all that this great city has to offer. My first thoughts are that I expected this to be a bigger city. That’s not a bad thing though, it’s kind of nice and refreshing that it’s not such a bustling metropolis. The weather here is cold and rainy, as was expected. The people are very friendly and everyone speaks English, so it’s very easy to communicate.
This morning, we took our first venture out into the city to head over to the Pancrase Gym for the UFC open workouts. The gym is a very unassuming space located in busy district in central Stockholm. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss the entrance. A small sign sits above a steel door leading to a long hallway that leads you to the gym. Once inside, there’s a good size mat area with a few heavy bags and two locker rooms. No frills, just all MMA. The gym is owned by seven-time Pancrase veteran Omar Bouiche and is home to about 300 students.
Fighters taking part in the open workouts included the two feature fights – Alexander Gustafsson vs Thiago Silva and Brian Stann vs Alessio Sakara – plus Swedish newcomer Reza Madadi and French middleweight Francis Carmont. UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre also put in an appearance in support of his pupil Carmont.
Below is a gallery of shots from the day. As always, you can find the full take on UFC.com and Getty Images.