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UFC 107 walk-in music: Fighters stick to the old reliables

Mir and Penn stick to the same tunes, gain victories


Mark Weber/The Memphis Commercial Appeal

Frank Mir reacts after submitting Cheick Kongo in the first round of their heavyweight fight at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn., on Dec. 12, 2009.

UFC 107 in Memphis

B.J. Penn lands a left hook to Diego Sanchez during their lightweight championship fight at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn., on Dec. 12, 2009. Penn ended up winning the fight by TKO in the final round. Launch slideshow »

How much can walk-in music really affect a fighter's emotional state in a fight? Can it actually affect the outcome of a bout? Like not changing socks during your favorite team's World Series run, many sports fans are superstitious and keep to the same pre-match rituals in hopes that it helps.

Whether MMA fighters similarly are superstitious remains to be seen, but last night’s UFC 107 showed a slew of fighters choosing to walk out to what have become their "usual" songs.

At least six competitors at UFC 107 walked out to music they have used before, and the majority seized victories. While there is obviously no correlation between a given song and a fight’s outcome, picking the same music can calm a fighter with a sense of familiarity that probably helps them get their heads straight before going into battle.

The look of calm confidence on Frank Mir’s face as he slowly bobbed his head down the tunnel to Kanye West's "Amazing" spoke volumes. He seemed to exude self-assurance without coming off too cocky. If your song choice says you’re amazing, you better live up to that image. That wasn't the case when Mir walked out to this song before being dominated by Brock Lesnar at UFC 100, but a more confident (and 20 pounds heavier) Mir stepped in the cage last night as West sang, "Look what he’s been through/he deserves an applause."

Mir did put in an amazing performance — earning plenty of applause — as he polished off Cheick Kongo in 1 minute, 12 seconds, officially silencing critics and backing up the taunting claims he made in the weeks leading up to the fight.

John Fitch always makes a statement when he walks out to Johnny Cash’s classic "Rusty Cage." Not just anyone can own a classic country tune the way he does. With an impressive 24-3 record, Fitch demands the kind of "I'm the boss" respect the Man in Black commanded. The twangy tune outlines just how a person’s rage can build when the thought of an upcoming fight overcomes them to the point they decide, "I'm going to break my rusty cage and run." The way Cash utters the word "run", more speaking than singing, will make an audience stop and listen much the way Fitch's typically impressive performances make the crowd stop and stare.

Stefan Struve’s choice of Marilyn Mansons "Seizure of Power" again seemed an odd choice since he went with an instrumental heavy metal song. Even without lyrics, the song is unmistakably Manson and, heck, when you’re 6-feet-11 with one of the longest reaches in mixed martial arts, words aren’t so necessary. A formidable presence coming down the tunnel, "Skyscraper" Struve appeared to focus on the rhythmic Manson tune with its heavy, steady drumbeats to help him push out any thoughts but those of seizing power from opponent Paul Buentello. Though it might not have been his most impressive victory, as confirmed by the crowd’s boos when his hand was raised at the end, Struve once again seized power and the win.

The final fighter to enter the Octagon brought with him a familiar tune, and a light show to accompany it. Lightweight champ B.J. Penn calmly swayed his way down the tunnel to his standard tune, "Hawaii '78," which transitioned into "E Ala E" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. Before the mellow Hawaiian music hit the air at FedEx Forum, the lights went out and palm trees lit up around the venue, signaling the impending arrival of the Hawaiian champ.

The calmness of the traditional Hawaiian music seemed almost eerily mellow juxtaposed against the fact that two men are about to make each other bleed. Penn, who is known for his trademark licking of blood off his hands, seemed almost god-like amid the backdrop of the tinkling bell sound of the ukulele in his walk-in music. For many fans, from Hawaii and across the globe, Penn has ascended to this role of MMA diety and re-cemented that position with an impressive victory over formidable opponent Deigo Sanchez.

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