Bellator 49 Behind the Scenes: Rattling the Cage Style

Thursday, October 20th, 2011 by Tony Reid

I was extremely excited when I found out the press pass had finally come through for me for Bellator 49 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  I went on behalf of the Fight Nerd, as I was selected to handle the online play-by-play for the fights for the evening. My wife and I made the 4 hour drive from our home in central PA with the kids in tow. They were going to get one last trip to the beach before fall arrived out of the deal.

The trip almost ended before it began as we were on the highway and a few issues presented themselves at my “real job”. We actually turned around and were headed home at one point, losing about 2 total hours of travel time. But we finally committed to making the trip and I am glad we did.

We made it to my step sister’s house, the kids enjoyed their cousins and the beach before my wife and I headed to Atlantic City for the event Saturday night. We were only about 15 minutes away and the drive in was amazingly fast, with little traffic to speak of. I am a huge fan of Las Vegas. The fight scene, the bright lights, constant stimulation ad the like and Atlantic City is the baby brother of Las Vegas and I was starting to get that feeling of a kid in a candy store as we entered the city.

Caesar’s Palace was the destination for the event. We made it to the casino and after a little confusion found the arena where the event was taking place. I was a little unclear whether the press pass waiting for me was for my site or The Fight Nerd. I quickly found out it was for the latter. Luckily I purchased a ticket online a few days prior for my wife just in case there was only one pass with my name on it. The ticket I bought was in the 112 section and according to the seating chart; it didn’t look like a great seat.

I was supposed to meet up with another Fight Nerd correspondent in Peter Lampasona. Peter doesn’t carry a cell phone so this became a much more difficult task that it sounds. I got my pass, Michelle had her ticket and we made our way to the entrance. When I hit the entrance I was shocked as to how small the venue was. I am talking a few hundred seats total! Every single aspect of the event was first class, though. The audio, visual, graphics, production, the staff, the whole nine. Michelle’s seat was surprisingly close to the cage, only a few rows back. Ironically enough, her view was probably better than mine, even as a member of the press.

I made my was to press row, found Peter and found my seat. I scrambled to get my laptop set up and connected to the Wi-Fi in Caesars. It took a while but we finally got it done, just as the first fight was set to start. There were a number of dark matches featuring mostly local talent prior to the online and televised portions of the card. The setup was fantastic. There was a room with some beverages and food for the press, the staff passed out folders with all kinds of useful information and they also passed around a copy of the scorecards after every fight to each member of the press, which was nice.

There were a number of fighters and personalities in attendance including Kurt Pellegrino, who we found out through the grapevine, had just come out of retirement and signed with Bellator and would be fighting for the organization in the very near future. Michelle was texting me regularly to let me know the staff had moved her a number of times to get her on camera. I was not overly interested as I was literally typing for my life round by round, second by second, punch by punch and kick by kick and immediately posting the results to the website in between rounds. This was my first experience as a member of the press at a Bellator show and at a show of this caliber. I had very little time to take in the scenery. Michelle also sent me a text at one point telling me she had just met one of my favorite artists in Sway, as in Sway and Tech from the Wakeup Show. Yes, I am a huge hip hop head.  So not only does she have a better seat, now she is mingling with my favorite artists.

The fights were very exciting, especially the Brent Weedman and Chris Lozano fight. As the event was coming to and end, Peter and I game planned as to how we were going to approach the post fight interview scene. We first went to the official press conference, which was very cool to be there and front and center. As the conference wound down, I got ahold of Ben Saunders and had a very cool on camera interview with him, joking around and touching on a number of fun subjects. He has a history with TFN, so it was my duty to talk to him at some point. Most of the fighters made a quick exit but I managed to catch up with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney. I have wanted to interview him for some time now, as he has a very interesting story, and literally is one of the top 5 or 10 most powerful and influential men in the sport. I spoke to him more as if I was interviewing him for TapouT Magazine and not in a post fight press conference manner. Peter, Michelle and I hung out for a few minutes afterward, talking to a few people from other media outlets and called it a night shortly after. We made it back to our home away from home arounf3:30am and hit the pillow for a few short hours.

Overall, the event was incredible. It was such a great experience for me and I look forward to doing it more often, much more often. Matthew from The Fight Nerd was happy with my work and has asked me to cover more events for his site, so this is just the beginning of a fun ride. Look for more on this event and other coverage atwww.rattling-the-cage.com and on Matthew’s site at www.thefightnerd.com !