Saturday, February 12. The night was chilly as usual but even another freezing night could not damper my mood as I drove towards East Rutherford, New Jersey and the start of the unprecedented (in the US at least) Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament being put together by Strikeforce. With so much emphasis put on the UFC, fans really had to be surprised to see the wealth of heavyweight talent amassed for this tournament. That I was witnessing the launch of such an historic MMA event left me quite gleeful. Of course events that unfolded would show that for Strikeforce no good deed goes unpunished. But we’ll get to that.
As I drove toward Lot 26 which is designated for the press and employees I stopped to ask every parking attendant where the lot was located and was instructed to just keep driving. When I finally circled the entire IZOD Center and came to my designated lot I made an ill advised, on-the-fly decision to not stop by the parking person manning this lot and a few seconds later felt like Billy Hayes in Midnight Express as my car was surrounded by several guys who looked as if they were competing in the evening’s Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament or at least a local tough man contest. After the some venting of steam by guys whose mood was not enhanced by the freezing temps, I was finally able to spit out my name and ultimately allowed to proceed and park. So began my first sojourn as a credentialed press dignitary. I almost ended up buried with Jimmy Hoffa and other luminaries in the nearby meadowland swamps courtesy of Mo and the guys.