When a fighter finishes his or opponent, the crowd erupts. That is the moment they paid their money for, that culmination of one person emphatically and decisively stopping the other person.
That noise can turn an arena upside down. But there are subtle noises throughout the course of a fight, ones of far less volume that affect what is on display. Massapequa’s Gregor Gillespie used several of them to his advantage Saturday night at UFC Fight Night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“His coaches were giving me the time check,” Gillespie said of Yancy Medeiros’ cornermen. “Obviously they’re giving him the time check but I was closer to his coaches than I was to my own. His coaches [said], ‘35 seconds, Yancy, 35.’ ”
That’s how much time was left in the second round of the lightweight bout dominated by Gillespie. It helped give Gillespie a sense of what he still could do.
The former national champion wrestler at Edinboro controlled the fight from start to finish, using his superior grappling to lead him to the TKO win. The next noise Gillespie (13-0) heard was his cornerman before his final takedown. “I heard Kyle Cerminara yell, ‘This last one and he’ll quit,’ ” Gillespie said.
Gillespie had spent the previous nine-and-a-half minutes in the cage softening up Medeiros (15-6). Gillespie was able to flatten out Medeiros, get top control and then start looking for ways to finish the bout with strikes.
He knew he didn’t have much time left, thanks to Medeiros’ coaches. He knew he was getting close to the finish when he heard referee Todd Anderson.
“I heard the ref say, ‘Yancy, you’ve got to work. Yancy, you’ve got to protect yourself,’ ” Gillespie said. “And that’s when I knew I could [finish]. I think it was one second. Beautiful timing.”
Those are the noises not heard in the arena. The louder noises — those boos from the crowd during the bout — certainly were heard by whoever was watching, be it in Barclays Center or on the ESPN+ stream, as well as those competing in the fight. “I think I let those boos from the crowd get to me a little bit and not while it was happening, but it hit me after a little bit,” Gillespie said. “I’m like, man, why they booing, this is my house?
“I’m from New York, man, I know how we are here, we want action, we want blood . . . I’ll get you your finish, but you’ve got to bear with me while I do what I’ve got to do before the finish.”
Gillespie, who trains at Bellmore Kickboxing MMA under Keith Trimble, indeed got his finish. It was his fifth straight stoppage, a run that recently landed Gillespie at No. 15 in the UFC lightweight rankings and figures to move him up that ladder after this win.
One noise not heard Saturday — or any other day — was Gillespie calling out opponents, trying to build up for another. Not his style. Never has been, never will be. Gillespie has been about that steady climb toward the top, one built on performance in the fights more so than on the mics.
“There’s all different types here,” UFC president Dana White said. “There’s the guys who make a lot of noise, and girls who make a lot of noise. And then there’s the guys who go like that. I’m cool with taking it one step at a time and seeing what happens.”