Few major sporting events can rival a UFC fight card live inside an arena. From the energy to the music, from the entrances to the screaming. It provides an atmosphere unlike most other sports on a consistent basis.
All of which makes it interesting to see how the crowd inside the Saitama Super Arena in Japan for UFC 144 this Saturday acts. Will they scream and yell the entire fight, or will they be more reserved?
Chuck Liddell believes he knows the answer.
“You can hear your corner a lot better. It’s a lot quieter crowd," said Liddell, a UFC Hall of Famer who has fought in Japan four times, including UFC 29 in 2000. "They’ll cheer, you’ll hear a ‘Whoooooa’ when a guy passes a guard or improves their position. But it’s just not as loud. Not even close."
UFC president Dana White said Wednesday (Thursday in Japan) that he expects a sellout for UFC 144. Saitama Super Arena holds close to 20,000 fans for a fight. That's a lot of people to create the type of tranquil fight setting Liddell described.
“It’s an interesting crowd, to be in front of that many people that are that into it," Liddell said. "They’re wild when you’re coming in and out, and they’re big fans. Fanatics over there. Great fans, but I guess they’re just quiet when you’re actually fighting.”
Liddell, who last fought in Japan in 2003, recalled watching Dan Henderson fight in Japan once. He has his headphones on and was yelling toward the cage. It's a common action for fight fans, especially those sitting so close to the action. His friend nudged him and suggested he take his headphones off for a second. Yeah, Liddell was the only one making any noise.
“I was probably 50 yards back and he could probably hear everything I was saying," Liddell said. "That’s how quiet it was in there.”