UFC Invades Dallas

The UFC pulled out all the stops with appearances by their biggest stars like Uriah Faber. Photo Courtesy: Kendrick Johnson
Several UFC stars like Urijah Faber made appearances throughout DFW. Photo Courtesy: Kendrick Johnson

By Kendrick E. Johnson

This past weekend UFC 171 Hendricks vs. Lawler took place at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. It was a who’s who of top fighters on the UFC’s roster from UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, UFC fan favorite Urijah Faber and UFC Middleweight champion Chris Weidman came to Dallas to spread some UFC goodwill in the DFW Metroplex.

The positive reaction from the Dallas MMA fans across the area touched even the biggest of stars.
“It’s amazing the difference in the reception from doing judo here to now doing the MMA thing,” a very enthusiastic and appreciative Rousey said. “This reception is so amazing here in Dallas, it’s so exciting and touching.”
While Rousey was making fans’ days at local Metro PCS stores in the area, fighters like Faber, Weidman, Ryan Bader and Jeremy Stephens were doing the same for local patrons at area Twin Peak restaurants.
“The MMA scene here in Dallas and Texas in general is alive and well,” said Stephens while signing autographs for fans at the Twin Peaks Mockingbird Station location. “The DFW area is very fight friendly and is home to some of the most knowledgeable fans of our sport and I only see things getting bigger and better here in Big D.”
Many fans in the lines wore “Bigg Rigg” gear in support of Hendricks, who lives in Midlothian and trains in Pantego while adopting Dallas as his home. DFW MMA fans had Hendricks’ back so much so you could hear them chanting, “Johny! Johny! Johny!” when Hendricks ran into trouble during his title tilt with Lawler.
“The Dallas fans were great all weekend and I’m definitely glad they had my back in my tough fight,” Hendricks said.
While Dallas fans were supporting their local champion, they also came out to support another champion in Weidman who had a meet and greet with fans at the Twin Peaks store in Addison. The New Jersey native definitely felt the love from the Dallas UFC fans during his appearance.
“It is pretty cool to have a lot of fans out here in Dallas who know about and respect the sport,” Weidman said.
With the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars in the midst of potential playoff runs and the Texas Rangers looking to start another successful season, Dallas definitely represented itself well in the eyes of the UFC and their fighters by constantly bringing energy and enthusiasm to each and every promotional appearance in which a UFC fighter was featured.
“It’s electric how excited people are for UFC 171 and to meet us (the fighters).” UFC fan favorite Uriah Faber said. “I feel like everywhere I go this sport’s getting bigger but it very cool to come to a city like Dallas which is a football city to see how many not only care about MMA and the UFC but actually know what’s going on.”
On the heels of UFC being a big hit in Big D for second time since 2009, UFC President Dana White announced after the fights that the UFC will return to Texas later this year, this time in San Antonio, on June 28 for a fight night on Fox Sports 1. If Hendricks has a long championship reign and the DFW UFC fan scene continues to grow, look for Dallas and the AAC to become a frequent stop in the UFC’s schedule.
Kendrick Johnson writes for a daily newspaper and is an independent sports television and print journalist who has covered championship boxing and UFC Fights, the NBA Finals and done numerous one-on-one’s with some of the biggest names and personalities in sports. He can be reached at kendrick_e_johnson@yahoo.com or on Twitter @kendrickjohnso