UFC Fight for the Troops
There are three authors listed above – not because Tommy, Garrett and I enjoy writing together, but because we couldn’t remember all of the events and had to piece them together.
We also want to thank Ginger for all her help – we’d have written about her, but she told us she’d kill us if we did…
UFC at Fort Bragg
I cringe as I see Tommy whack Lorenzo Fertitta, the billionaire casino mogul and owner of the UFC on the back with an inappropriate amount of force, almost yelling something in the man’s face with Tommy’s normal crazy smile and childlike exuberance. That probably left a mark. I thought, horrified. I hadn’t been on the ground for more than five minutes, I hadn’t even been in the venue yet. We’re getting kicked out of this bitch before it even starts, aren’t we?
Hold on, I’m getting ahead of myself.
The UFC just held their first event in the state of North Carolina and they did it in the coolest way possible – they put on a show for the troops at Fort Bragg as the only members of the audience. Even better, the proceeds from the event went to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (www.fallenheroesfund.org), an organization devoted to helping our combat veterans recover from brain trauma. Before we tell the tale we at Ranger Up want to thank the UFC, from the bottom of our hearts, for what they have done. Their efforts have already made a significant difference in the lives of many of our wounded comrades.
There was abso-smurfly no way that the UFC was going to be in our backyard at Fort Bragg supporting the troops and Ranger Up not be involved. Originally, there was talk of Tim Kennedy fighting in the event, but his unit needed a man with his skillset for a “trip.” He put his guys before his MMA career faster than it takes the average person to form a thought. If anyone ever wonders why Ranger Up has Tim in the upper right hand corner of every page of our website – it’s because he makes decisions like that time and time again.
Still we had Brian Stann… until he was injured and wasn’t going to be able to fight. Suddenly, there weren’t going to be any Ranger Up fighters at the Fort Bragg event. Guess what? We were okay with that.
We’re not Tap Out. We aren’t competing for market share. We’re a small company that wants to be proud of the guys we put in the ring and we want to make sure our fans can feel the same way. We didn’t really know any of the other fighters personally, so we said screw it – no fighters. We then set about focusing on the one thing we were sure we could do well – throw a kickass party.
Call one was to a bad ass bar in downtown Fayetteville called Huske Hardware, owned and operated by our friend Tonia and a few ex-trigger pullers, the place is awesome. Two floors, great bar, great food, great service. It is the closest thing Fayetteville has to a Valhalla of merriment. They were happy to have us. Location is a GO.
Call two was by Tommy Batboy to our (now) friend Tucker Max (www.TuckerMax.com). If you don’t know who Tucker Max is, odds are you will either hate him or find him incredibly amusing, or hate him and hate yourself for finding him incredibly amusing. Tommy and Tucker go way back, so far that Tommy is actually in one of Tucker’s online stories which is now included in the new version of Tucker’s book, “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” (the expanded edition comes out soon). His moniker is “The Littlest Ranger”. In case you didn’t know Tommy measures in at a solid 5’6”, but only if he makes his back reaaal straight.
Anyway, when Tucker heard the event was for the troops, he said yes faster than you would to a threesome with Angelina Jolie and Angelina Jolie (yeah I know there’s women reading this – you’d say yes too).
Bad ass party host is a GO.
Things were rapidly progressing when we got an email from Dale Hartt – not Dale Hartt’s agent, but Dale himself. Fighters don’t typically email clothing companies, they have agents for that, but Dale was asking for a couple of personal favors. Dale wanted shirts to hand out to the troops, he wanted our help organizing an MMA clinic for charity, and he wanted us to come with him when he visited the wounded guys in the hospital. Dale is a Navy veteran and after a couple of email exchanges, really wanted to wear our gear in the ring. We weren’t really looking for a fighter, but the more we talked with him, the more we liked him. Then we started talking to his agent, Jason, who is also a Vet (a fellow Army guy). Usually, fighter negotiations are about the extra thousand dollars a guy wants so that he will post on his MySpace page that he and Ranger Up are BFFs 4-eva. Not so with Dale. We could instantly tell he was one of us and we had to support him. The icing on the cake was that his agent wrote the contract in terms that a four year old could understand (or more importantly, the guys at Ranger Up) instead of a using a bunch of legalese. We were in – Dale was wearing a Ranger Up shirt. We are thrilled he did.
This brings me to Tommy assaulting a billionaire (Tommy edit: I patently deny any assault). Five minutes before weigh-ins for the UFC event, I am being dropped off on base by a guy I’ve never met, and hop out of the car only to see Josh Koscheck outside looking around with a thousand yard stare. Luigi Fioravanti is lying on the concrete trying to stay cool, curled up in the fetal position, half under a truck. Dale Hartt comes outside looking emaciated and sits next to Luigi on the curb. All the fighters are pissed off, to put it mildly.
Joe Rogan, the emcee for the weigh in festivities, landed late and the car that was driving him and Eddie Bravo to the fights got lost. Starving dudes that have wrung every last drop of water out of their bodies are exactly one Joe Rogan appearance away from eating everything they can get their hands on, getting some much needed water into their systems, and feeling like human beings again.
Joe is a great guy and these events were beyond his control, but I can tell you from personal experience that when you cut weight you don’t think rationally. These guys would have killed him, run him through a wood chipper and fed his remains to a pack of wild dogs in exchange for a glass of orange juice and a bowl of pasta. They might have done it for just the glass of OJ.
To re-cap I’ve just stepped out of a car driven by someone I don’t really know and into a group of pissed off UFC fighters, who are in their sorry state of affairs because a comedian’s driver got lost. As if the situation couldn’t get any more surreal, I finally spot Tommy. Well – not visually spot – but I can hear his loud ass. My eyes scan just below the horizon, on account of his height, and I see him emerging next to a very confident man who clearly was not a fighter. An agent perhaps? Then I get a clean look at his face – it’s Lorenzo Fertitta. Realization strikes. Tommy Batboy is alone with Lorenzo Fertitta. Ah shit. Tommy just whacked him on the back – maybe Lorenzo was choking on something and Tommy saved his life? Nope. He was just giving him the ‘ol “Am I right Lorenzo?” I’m in a panic, at a near sprint. Tommy is pointing to Lorenzo’s arm now towards his bracelet, which has enough ice in it to reverse global warming. I can finally hear him clearly:
Tommy: Wow! Look at this thing! I don’t suppose these are cubic zirconium?
Lorenzo: No, they aren’t.
Tommy: I need to get me one of these, Lorenzo. Who’s your jeweler?
Tommy: Seriously man – you could land a spaceship on that fucking thing. It’d be great for signaling to the birds on an LZ.
Nick’s inner monologue: I wonder if we’re going to get kicked out of this show before it even starts.
Tommy: Seriously man – thanks for doing this for the boys. We really appreciate it.
Lorenzo (sincerely): It’s my pleasure. They deserve it. I’m glad we could help in some small way.
Nick’s inner monologue: This billionaire is a cool cat…or he is just really afraid of the loud, boisterous Ranger with the crazy look in this eye. Either way, we’re not getting thrown out.
Garrett, Tommy and I are sitting there, eating dinner at Huske Hardware getting ready to watch Tucker’s new movie with 50 of our closest friends when Tommy gets a text. “Tucker’s here,” he tells us as he gets up to go meet him.
Garrett and I look up, and while Tucker may have been there, all we noticed was the gorgeous tall girl that was at the bar, near Tommy’s general destination, wearing a low cut dress. I’m not saying there aren’t attractive women in Fayetteville, but this girl stood out. We assumed she was with Tucker. Tommy hopped up and had some man hugs with Tucker (we’re hugging but we’re hitting) and is introduced. We quickly learn that this fine lady is his girlfriend, Erin.
Garrett and I go back to our dinner and beers as Tommy and Tucker catch up before the screening. We wanted them to have their alone time. Tommy and Tucker met when Tommy was in college working in morning radio (one of the few places in this world that found a use for his incessant yammering).
Before long it was 2200 and it was time for the screening. We can’t tell you much about the movie other than this, it’s hilarious. I was crying. It was legitimately funny and not like you’d expect it to be if you’ve followed or read what’s on his website. I mean, yes, he has sex with a bunch of women, and yes, he’s horrifically inappropriate in almost every frame, but it was, and I am going to go flog myself after saying this, a rather charming film, even in its absolute absurdity. Bottom line – 50 soldiers watched it and all 50 said it kicked ass. When the shit does that ever happen?
It’s supposed to come out this summer and if you don’t see it you will be hearing it quoted, over and over and over again. Part of us is yellow with envy (green is so passé) and kinda hates Tucker for the massive amount of success he is about to have, but overall we just keep cracking up every time we think about it.
At the screening we also met up with two of Tucker’s soldier friends – Priester John and the man that will forever be known as Svenn. We were going to call him “Swede,” after the character from Heartbreak Ridge, but Tommy was already a little buzzed and fucked it up. Svenn stuck because he is a six foot six Nordic-looking mutant of the human species. After the screening Priester John and Svenn declare we are in need of a night cap and offer to take us out in Fayetteville to continue the nights revelry.
Dive Bar with Tucker Max
I’ve been drinking for a long time, and the one thing that I absolutely know is true is that nothing good ever happens in a bar after midnight. Nevertheless, when Tucker asked where else we could go and someone brought up The Doghouse (not kidding), Tommy, Tucker, Erin, Priester John, Svenn, Garrett and I hopped in our respective vehicles and headed out to that den of respectability. Erin was sober and grabbed the keys for our car.
Thanks for being the DD Erin! Was that a double entendre? Maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t…
We walked in and this was looking less and less like a good idea. Drunk Joes and rednecks abound. We are with the only gorgeous girl in the bar. She is dressed to the nines in a place where a tuxedo t-shirt would be considered “fancy”.
The Bar Harpy tells us that shots are $1.50.
Me: Seriously? Any shot is a buck fifty?
BH: Any single liquor shot.
Me: Do Incredible Hulks qualify?
BH: No. They’re $8.
BH (leaning in close so I can see the skull tattoo on her cleavage with wings going to each clavicle): But if you ask for a shot of Hennessy and a shot of Hypnotic, that would only be $3.
Me (tired of the Bar Harpy’s smug liquor calculus, but still satisfied with the result): Let’s get 12 of those.
The Round comes and Tucker pays, laughing when he hears the total. He lives in freakin’ Hollywood right now while he films his new movie and the same order would be like $1.2 million dollars there.
We do the shot and I order another round. I pick this one up. Tucker orders tequila for everyone, and makes Tommy do two. To his credit he didn’t throw up like he did last time I took him out drinking.
Some skuzzy dude walks over to Erin and does the drunk-lean-in-arm-around-her maneuver. Tucker gets angry. The skuzzy dude goes away.
I use the elevated testosterone from that moment to reintroduce the idea that Tucker and Tommy need to fight in an MMA competition. There is no good reason for this, save my own drunken ammusment, but if Tucker is going to be down here for the fights I might as well see just how much he loves fighting.
Tucker: I’d fight this bitch right now if it wasn’t for my torn ACL!
Tommy: Whatever man. You know you’re scared.
Tucker: Fuck you bro. You have no chance. I’m friends with Mac Danzig, he did the photography for my new book (Who knew Mac was handy with a camera?). I outweigh you by 30 pounds. I’m gonna kick your Ranger ass.
Tommy: Let’s do it you name-dropping sonofabitch! Time and place – that’s all I need.
Nick (giddy like a schoolgirl): So you guys are going to do this right?
Both: Fuck yeah!
It was right about this time that I heard Priester John utter the following line to a local girl who was clearly attached to a large redneck, “You can sit on my fender”.
Well, it just so happens that Garrett heard it too. Talking to Priester John at the time, he couldn’t help but wonder what the hell his conversation had to do with fenders. Oh wait, there must be “candidates” behind him.
Oh, about 0.4 seconds later, a left hook from a set of knuckles old enough to be your grandfather jump Garrett’s left shoulder and slam PJ straight in the face.
Ah, so “You can sit on my fender” is something you DON’T say to ladies in these parts. John reeled from the first shot and falls back. We catch him. In his place jumps 6’7” Svenn, who will surely kick some ass, no? Garrett, and a couple of the bouncers, rush in to “stop” the fight (hell, there was only 2 minutes left till the bar closing anyways).
The redneck threw a right cross and caught Svenn square in the face. Svenn didn’t notice. He started whaling on the guy with ugly but effective strikes. Basically imagine the “Hulk Smash” scene from the filmThe Incredible Hulk and that’s what we witnessed.
We, of course, all got kicked out. It was precisely 1:58. Two minutes before closing.
As Garrett, Tommy, Tucker, Erin and I sat down in the car, there was a short pause. Then Erin spoke.
Nick: Yeah, can you believe that just happened?
Tucker: How did that even start?
Tommy: I have no idea, I was hoping you knew.
Garrett: I think he said something to that dude’s girlfriend.
Tucker: You okay?
Erin: Wow – you guys are all a total bunch of fucking pussies.
Erin: Your friend gets punched in the face and you jackasses just sit there and don’t do anything. Only one guy hit him back. That is so pathetic.
At this point we all dove into various reasons why we didn’t get into a fight – we didn’t know it was happening, Priester kinda started it, we would have absolutely stepped in if someone would have done something to her, etc. Finally, we felt we had supplied enough excuses to feel like men again.
Erin: P-U-S-S-I-E-S! I should be in the other car with Svenn. At least I know he’s got my back! You bitches probably would have stood there and cheered me on while I fought the guy instead of getting involved. I’m embarrassed for you.
I busted out laughing. I couldn’t help it. This chick was awesome. Everyone pretty much joined in. We had just been “told” (see attached flowchart if you have questions).
Touché, Erin. Touché.
Tucker buys us Dinner
We beg and plead for Erin to take us to get some food. The only place that is open is McDonalds. We go there.
It is important to note that while Tommy has been friends with Tucker a while, Garrett and I have not. We’ve been “email friends” which is almost as weak as “Facebook friends”, so a lot of what I knew about Tucker I knew from his website or from Tommy.
At this point in the night, I have to be honest – not the guy I expected. He was very sharp and polite, very respectful to the boys and to Erin – really just a regular dude. Take away the fame, the books, and the movie and he could just as easily be one of the guys I hang out with on a day-to-day basis.
That is until we had to order food. We ordered. They screwed it up royally – almost as if they hadn’t listened to the order. That’s when I met Tucker Max. Before that, I am convinced I had only met Tucker Regular or maybe Tucker Min.
Tucker snapped. He launched into a diatribe about the failings of the food service industry the likes of which I have never seen, and hope to never hear again. It was like someone scripted it for a movie. If I had a camera that speech would be all over YouTube. It went on for like 5 minutes. It was absurdly over-the-top and inappropriately personal. You know that scene in Old School where Will Ferrell has to debate James Carvell and his eyes go dim and he snaps and produces a flawless response? It was like that but on crack. It was the fast food speech manifestation of the scene in the movie Over the Top where Sly Stallone turns his hat around backwards and is “like a truck”. One minute he was just a nice truck driver – the next he was an arm wrestling juggernaut that feared no elbow tendon. Such was the way with Tucker – regular, cool dude to giant, but unmistakably hilarious asshole, in about 0.2 seconds.
We wake up the next day at various stages of drunk. We’re ready to chill out before the fight, grab some dinner (yeah, I said dinner) and enjoy the evening.
The previous day we had found out we’d be banner-less for the event. Sponsors (like us) place our logos on vinyl banners that the fighters’ corners hold up so they show up on television. Dale’s agent had the banner shipped to my house, which is some two hours away from Bragg and it had not arrived prior to our departure on Tuesday. We expected it was lost and didn’t give it another thought, when we received word that it arrived late Wednesday. There were 2 hours until the fight.
I called my buddy Rob. Rob was planning on meeting us there later that night, but maybe he could come now? Rob works in a significant capacity at an “important” job. He dropped everything, walked straight out of work, grabbed the banner off of my porch, and headed out for Bragg. Luckily he drives an M3. Way to Ranger Up, Rob.
One hour and forty minutes later, Rob arrives at Huske Hardware wielding a banner. Tommy is euphoric as Tommy, being who he is, would have considered Dale walking out with no banner as a personal failure on his part, even though this was not his responsibility in any way, shape, or form. He grabs Rob and the two exchange Rob’s Look-At-My-Penis-Mobile for Tom’s, as they hop in Tommy’s 350Z.
Right before he takes off, he tells me to ask our friend Jeff about his new tattoo. He says it is awesome.
I’ll pass to Tommy.
The Fights (Tommy Batboy’s Perspective)
I have a tendency to drive fast.
When I have a banner that needs to get to a fighter and I have 20 minutes to get it to him, it’s only going to get worse. Throw in that I spent most of the money I made overseas in 2004 on this sports car and we had a recipe for, as Rob put it, “living the real life version of that video game Outrun!” Rob must like video games. He was a remarkably good sport as I was doing (speed redacted to prevent future prosecution) in a 60, weaving in and out of traffic like I was trying to qualify for the Indy 500.
We arrived with ten minutes to spare and no tickets or passes to get us in the door. Our tickets “were en route.” Undeterred and wound up like one of those crazy symbol monkey toys from the drive I walked right up to the guy at the front door.
“My name is Tommy, we’re sponsoring Dale Hartt on tonight’s fight card, I have his corner banner and I need to get it to him,” I declared in my sternest “let me through” tone of voice.
“Uhh, do you have a pass or something?” The man at the door asked me slightly shocked I was talking to him that way.
“No, I don’t,” I told him. “I have a fighter’s banner and he needs it for the fight tonight, if you’d like to escort me down there, that’s fine, I don’t care. But this has to get to him in the next ten minutes or there is going to be hell to pay.” The combination of the big Ranger Up logo on my shirt and the banner in my hand did the trick because he let me pass. With one crack security guard bypassed, I found myself in the same situation with the guy by the floor seats. With my new found confidence, I simply told him that “we weren’t the droids he was looking for”. I blasted past him, and with about 8 minutes to spare Dale had his banner. I had completed my Airborne Mission. I also now have a plan to upgrade my seats the next time I go to a UFC event. With that I ran back and got Rob so we could watch the fights.
We arrived just in time to see Justin McCully win over Eddie Sanchez. It had also given Rob time to procure beers and with that we sat down for Dale’s fight.
The plan had been to get the crowd to chant “Ranger Up!” when Dale walked in. The plan never had a chance. From the opening chords of Dale’s walk out song, Toby Keith’s “Angry American,” the crowd was singing along and cheering on the former Navy rescue swimmer as he headed to the Octagon. We may have not gotten a cheer going for him, but he’d certainly won the crowd.
The first round was mostly a feel out round. Neither fighter landed anything solid. Dale was clearly trying to solve the riddle of how, as a 5’10” fighter, he could get inside the reach of a guy that was 6’6”.
It all changed in the 2nd. I couldn’t see exactly what it was that happened, but I heard it. It sounded like David Ortiz had just mashed a 500ft home run. Hill went down with a cry of pain and a completely shattered leg – tibia and fibula completely snapped. Through the 20 minutes or so that Cory Hill was down, Dale Hartt was a complete class act, going so far as holding Cory’s hand when they had to move his leg to get him ready for transport. Going into this fight we all felt that we’d made a great choice when we decided to sponsor Dale for his fight. Sitting in the crowd, after what Joe Rogan called the worst injury to happen during a fight in UFC history, I was floored by how great a guy Dale was. He gets paid to beat people up for a living and he might be one of the nicest people I’ve ever met—who knew?
The rest of the undercard fights were some great scrapes. It was hard not to feel a little sorry for former Navy SEAL Brandon Wolff after he got his face tenderized by Ben Saunders. The crowd had clearly started off supporting him, but gave Saunders a huge cheer when he announced that he was going to donate his show money to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes fund. Unbeknownst to Rob and I when we sat down we were sitting next to one of the striking coaches for American Top Team, who has work with both Ben Saunders and Marine Vet Luigi Florivanti. Ben came out to sit right next to us when the main card started. In between fights I asked him if he donated the money. His face positively lit up, “hell yeah man! The UFC just signed it over to them!” His beat down of a former SEAL aside, it’s hard not to like a guy like that.
Ben didn’t seem to have much family or friends in the crowd, but Marine Vet Luigi Florivanti’s family and friends were out in force. Watching them scream in support and trying to corner him from 500 feet back was almost as entertaining as the fight itself. As loud as she was screaming I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Luigi heard his girlfriend telling him how to transition to rear mount and how to sink a rear naked choke.
After Kos KO’ed Yoshida, I’m told that Yoshida was on the canvas for a good ten minutes. I didn’t see it. As soon as Kos threw that right left combo and turned the lights out, Rob and I were running towards the car, in the pouring rain, and towards the Ranger Up after party at Huske Hardware. Thankfully, for both Rob and I, I didn’t have to drive like a maniac on the way there—as odd as it is to say it, beer can wait sometimes.
The After Party (back to Nick)
“Take your shirt off.”
That’s the first thing the waitress said to Garrett as we walked through the door (He later found out that the waitress is in fact a mom of a teenager and without question shy of the 30-mark – talk about dodging a bullet). Welcome to the Ranger Up after party.
I spot Jeff.
Me: Hey man, I heard you got a new tattoo!
Jeff: Sure did! Want to see it?
Me: Yeah man.
Jeff drops his pants right then and there, which I am pretty sure is illegal. He has a tattoo that starts on his stomach and arcs all the way to, you guessed it, his penis. Jeff has a penis tattoo.
Me: Nice cock. That hurt?
Jeff: It smarts a bit.
I’m going to kick Tommy’s ass.
By the time Tommy and Rob walked in, the party was in full swing. We had the added bonus that the Air Force Combat Controller Course had just graduated 20 dudes and they were having a rip roaring good time. A bunch of operators that work with Tim were also in the house and they were relaying some phenomenal stories of his bravery in combat while simultaneously mocking his picture on the Ranger Up poster – awesome. One of them, a rather muscular dude, was shadow boxing along with the fight replays because he was shitcanned. He was explaining one of the punch combinations Kos threw and he accidentally punched me in the face, which was awesome. He didn’t notice. Even better. Of course it should come as no surprise that he and Tommy served together at 2nd Battalion when Tommy was a private.
The fighters start rolling in – Dale Hartt, Marcus Davis, and then Brock Fucking Lesnar comes through the door…well…both doors actually.
Anyone that has anything to say about Randy Couture losing to this man is insane. In fact, I was impressed with Randy’s performance before I met Lesnar, but now…the man is enormous. Not “big”. Superhuman. I honestly don’t even know how I would attempt to stop him if he was coming after me – I’m not even certain a gun would work – maybe a tank round.
The funny thing was the way the crowd reacted to it. It was mostly dudes but a pattern quickly emerged. They’d roll up to Lesnar, get a picture, run away like scared little girls, and then go try and talk to Tucker for like 20 minutes. Maybe it was Lesnar’s size or something but we all thought it was weird that he wasn’t getting more love, especially Tucker.
“What the fuck man? The heavy weight champion of the UFC is here and all these dudes want to do is talk to me about having sex and getting drunk? Unreal.”
Did he just fucking say that?
No shit, there I was, sitting in the VIP area with the Ranger Up guys, the fighters, Tucker, Erin, and assorted people of interest, when Brock Lesnar walks by and accidentally bumps into Rob. Rob had been dining on a delicious wing and when Brock’s massive frame hit him that poor wing fell to the ground – the latest victim of Mr. Lesnar.
Drunk Rob spins on his heel to face Lesnar as he walks to his table and says in his loudest booming voice (and Rob’s voice can boom) while wearing a shit-eating grin, “You want a piece of me Lesnar?!”
Mr. Lesnar turns around and looks Rob dead in the eye, “No, sir. I do not.”
Thank the Lord.
After the tongue-lashing Erin had given us last night, there was no way in hell that I wouldn’t have been in the fight, which of course would have meant that this would be my last night on the planet. It’s not that I couldn’t have stopped him from killing Rob – it’s that the entire bar of special operations soldiers and 82nd Airborne troopers wouldn’t have been able to stop him from killing Rob.
“That’s what I thought,” said Rob as he grabbed another wing.
I went over there and bought Lesnar and his table some drinks and then realized I was drunk when I heard myself telling the man for the third time that he needed to kick Frank Mir’s ass. I’m sure that thought had never crossed his mind and he likely really appreciated my advice.
Alcohol is awesome.
Two Old School Drunken Warriors
So the night is winding down, and the bar is closed, except for Ranger Up, Tucker, Erin, Josh (an owner), Matt Larsen, the Father of Modern Army Combatives, and Josh’s wife Tonia. There isn’t a sober person in the room except the cop hired to keep the event reasonable, and Tonia.
Larsen and Josh are good friends and start exchanging stories, as old warriors often do, and of course the posturing about who is tougher starts. Josh is a former pro boxer and operator. Matt founded Army Combatives for fuck’s sake. They start messing around and working for under hooks and whatnot. Tonia tells me and Tommy to stop them from being idiots.
Oh yeah, I am reeeeaaaaaal anxious to rush into a scrap with two guys with a couple decades on me and get my ass kicked.
So Garrett, Tommy, and I stayed with the plan we had when Priester John got knocked out – we just watched, as Erin put it the night before, like a bunch of giant pussies.
Eventually, they called it a draw.
We slept soundly that night.
Dale Hartt and Ranger Up at the Hospital (Tommy’s Perspective)
We were supposed to be eating breakfast with the troops. The Army, as it’s known to do, had scheduled a formation at the same time as breakfast.
Good to see nothing’s changed.
When we got up to where the signing was happening there was already a line of about 40 or soldiers, and we’d only brought about 50 or so shirts. I inquired about the numbers to Martha, a worker at the center.
“Oh we have a full battalion here. We have over 700 soldiers in the unit.”
An hour or so into the autograph signing I was the t-shirt guy without any t-shirts, and Dale was without anything to sign.
“Hey, can I get on your computer?” Dale asked one of the workers.
“Sure.” With that Dale loaded up some old MMA photographs.
“It cool if I print this off?” He asked. The faces of the entire staff lit up.
“SURE!” With that Dale Rangered Up, covered the t-shirt guy without any t-shirts, and kept signing autographs. He didn’t just signed autographs; he did much more than that. He hung out with the troops. He would spend five or ten minutes talking to a single wounded warrior or a small group of them. He asked how long they’d been there, what happened, how they were doing. He took an interest in each and every person that came up to the table on Friday, never having anything less than a smile on his face when they first showed up. The staff had to practically drag him out of the room to eat lunch. A quick bite to eat and he was right back at the table, hanging with the troops. The only time he ever said no to a picture or an autograph was when someone brought the picture from Fight! up for him to sign, the one that shows Cory Hill’s mangled leg.
“Sorry, I can’t do it,” Dale told the solider. “I’ll sign one of these,” he said pointing to the picture he’d printed up. “But signing that wouldn’t be right. It’d be bad Karma,” he said politely, but firmly.
I was a little surprised, and very impressed. I’ve met a couple of fighters since I started working for Ranger Up. I don’t know many that would have refused to sign something that instantly recognizable and interest generating for the fighter like that. It was one of the classiest things I’ve ever seen in the realm of mixed martial arts.
Thank You, UFC
As of this writing, the UFC raised $4 million dollars for the troops.
Thank you Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta and thank you Dana White – you could have chosen a lot of charities – many that would have been far more marketable and high profile to the public at large, but you opted to look out for our heroes. You have our utmost respect.