Well back in September... I had that opportunity. Only they weren't legends of the diamond. They were legends of the octagon.
One of my closest friends makes a living off of selling autographed sports memorabilia and he needed my help obtaining a pair of signatures at the Bellator MMA Fan Fest.
The main guy he wanted was Kazushi Sakuraba. He's best known for taking down four members of the Gracie family and is a huge name in Japan. However since he doesn't cross the Pacific very often, his autograph is definitely in demand over here.
The other guy he wanted was Fedor Emelianenko... who is one of the biggest names in history of the sport.
I ended up meeting both of these guys and had Sakuraba sign my buddy's magazine, while Fedor signed a glove. Each fighter also signed these special 8x10 photographs, which my friend let me keep.
Everything else was a thank you present for helping him out...
The person I was most excited to meet was Royce Gracie. He's the guy who originally got me interested in the sport back in the 90's when he won three of the first four UFC tournaments. However by the mid 90's... for one reason or another... I lost interest in mixed martial arts.
Then in 2005 a few of my friends started watching the reality television show: The Ultimate Fighter. One of the coaches that season was Randy Couture who happened to be the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion at the time.
Although I was definitely cheering for Team Liddell, the legendary Couture played a big role in me rekindling my love for mixed martial arts.
Next up was Frank Shamrock...
He was the first UFC Middleweight Champion and was voted by the Wrestling Observer to be the "Fighter of the Decade" for the 90's. Personally... I know him best for being Ken Shamrock's brother.
And last, but certainly not least is Cung Le...
Mr. Le is a local guy who fought out of San Jose and is a fan favorite in my neck of the woods. He recently retired from mixed martial arts, but might return to professional kickboxing competitions.
Well there you have it... a warm September evening... hanging out with some legends of mixed martial arts. It was very cool, unique opportunity to shake these guys' hands and watch them sign everyone's memorabilia. Guys like Gracie and Sakuraba were very fan friendly and were my two favorite encounters.
Well that's it for today.
Any of you watch MMA? Collect MMA cardboard?
Are you watching the Rousey fight tonight?
Although it doesn't rank as high as baseball, football, or hockey... I still consider myself a fan. I'll definitely be watching tonight's fight as Ronda defends her UFC Women's Bantamweight title against Holly Holm.
Happy Saturday and sayonara!