Fighting in front of a home crowd brings with it an array of emotions … and ticket requests.
For Lindenhurst’s Ryan LaFlare, who will fight Roan Carneiro at UFC 208 in Brooklyn on Saturday, the real emotion comes after the fight. Before that, there’s something a little more pressing to deal with: the opponent locked inside of the cage with him.
“You’re fighting, there’s a lot going on. There’s people everywhere. There’s people cheering, you don’t know if they’re for you or against you,” LaFlare said. “When that cage door shuts in the octagon, you’re kinda focused on the guy that you have to fight. The crowd is almost secondary. You knock the guy and you hear cheers, you might get a little momentum. But if you hit him and you don’t hear cheers, you’re not going to start panicking.”
Cheers indeed are the last thing fighters think about as they try to dodge or block punches and kicks while recovering quickly enough from the ones they didn’t avoid. But should triumph follow for the hometown fighter, well, that’s a fight bonus.
“After the fight, it makes a big difference,” LaFlare said. “They raise your hand, you look around, you see familiar faces, you feel like they won, too.”
LaFlare is one of three local fighters on the UFC 208 card at Barclays Center. Brooklyn’s Phillipe Nover is the first fight on the card against Rick Glenn, and Queens’ Randy Brown gets top billing on the Fox Sports 1 prelims against Belal Muhammad.
UFC 208 will be LaFlare’s first fight at home in his professional career. His first seven fights were in Atlantic City for Ring of Combat. Since joining the UFC in 2013, he has fought twice in Brazil and once each in Sweden and United Arab Emirates in addition to state-side fights in California and Las Vegas.
“Everybody says it’s so awesome you get to fight all over the world, you get to travel and see all these other places. Yeah, do you know what it’s like to fight in other countries?” LaFlare said. “You lock yourself in your hotel room. You eat whatever food that has no salt, sugar or carbohydrates in it, so you’re not enjoying all the foods and you’re not looking at things. You lock yourself in your hotel room making weight, then you fight, then you go home.”