The best things about the UFC being at Madison Square Garden are that every fight week event takes place at Madison Square Garden, and Madison Square Garden is awesome.
Case in point: the UFC 205 open workouts, which is free the public and provides fans with their best opportunity to scream their favorite fighter’s name and actually get that fighter’s attention (forget trying that at the weigh-ins or on fight night). Usually, the media is penned off and kept separate from the masses, although when we arrived, we were told straight off that there’d be no questions. Which made sense, as scheduled right after the open workouts was a media day with lots of scrum opportunities.
Roughly five hundred fans filled the bleachers behind us, many of them sporting Polish flags and, of course, Irish flags.
First up for a workout was Eddie Alvarez.
You learn absolutely nothing from what the fighters do during these dog and pony shows. These aren’t intense workouts in the slightest, and if anyone has been working on a secret technique or strategy for their particular opponent, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell they’d show it here before the all the cameras and teams.
What is far much more meaningful is how fans respond to each fighter. For Alvarez, the lightweight champ, they cheered.
They loved Joanna Jedrzejczyk as well (but who doesn’t?).
Karolina Kowalkiewicz got applause, and when Megan Olivi interviewed her, she reminded everyone that she was living her dream by fighting here.
Welterweight champ Tyron Woodley didn’t get much love, but you could blame that on Stephen Thompson being so likeable.
Of course, this guy was the star attraction, and he knew it, pausing at various points in his workout to acknowledge all those screaming his name.
I’ve been to some open workouts that were intimate (like in Orlando), and they’re okay. But something about sitting on the floor of the Garden watching UFC fighters do their thing…
…Saturday night is going to be a blast.