As editors, we don't get a ton of opportunities to get out of the office. So, when I realized I was one of just a few in our department with even a cursory knowledge in mixed martial arts, I volunteered to help cover the UFC's first event in Baltimore.
I had seen some fights on television and attended a local amateur show once.
But I can't say I'm an MMA superfan, so I'll admit I didn't quite know what to expect when I walked into the downtown arena the night of UFC 172 in April.
Pretty soon, I realized that this wasn't going to be like covering a baseball or football game.
The first fights of the night are supposed to serve as an appetizer to the pay-per-view card. That night's opening bout between Chris Beal and Patrick Williams wasn't even televised.
But the arena was packed by the time they hopped into the Octagon, and it seemed like everyone was thirsty for that first taste of combat. Before long, Beal whacked Williams with a flying knee and a roar reverberated through the old building.
I went down to the backstage area to hear what Beal had to say about opening the card with that type of result in that type of atmosphere. After about 15 minutes, a PR rep came by to tell the few assembled reporters that Beal wouldn't be doing interviews — because he needed to be taken to the hospital to get checked out.
Nope, not your average sporting event.
By the end of the night, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones was hugging Ravens legend Ray Lewis after a successful title defense against Glover Teixeira.