Fight night dinner party

During other parts of the year, my friend-family gathers in each others’ homes to watch football games or bad 80s movies. But last Saturday it was a UFC fight night: the women’s bantamweight championship match between Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano, with 10 fights leading up to the main event.

Because UFC is a Pay-Per-View sport, it is a perfect excuse for a dinner party. For us, this means spicy paella, coconut oatmeal cookies and 17 different kinds of beer. Our friend constellation constantly changing between the couch and kitchen, catching up with people I’ve missed terribly since the Super Bowl, while on the screen heavyweight Derrick Lewis beats Ruan Potts by TKO strikes.

Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington are the last match before the final. All of us make comments about Holm’s Barbie-pink spandex boyshorts, but it was actually the more practical outfit to be fighting in. Watching two women hit each other is what made me like UFC fighting: maybe because I’m female, maybe because I’ve seen enough men hit each other. I wasn’t a fan until I watched Zingano knee Meisha Tate in the face two years ago. Watching any sport requires some understanding of the training and planning behind it. Seeing the pink-clad Holm beat her fists into Pennington time and time again is only a tiny part of this sport.

Then the final fight happens, the Main Event, the climactic but anti-climatic 14-second win by armbar (fastest win in UFC championship history). And you heave a sigh because you wanted Zingano to win, and you wish you could get the cameras out of her face asking her what happened. Rousey, women’s bantamweight champion and the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in judo, isn’t going to Disneyland. She gets to be a featured athlete in Sports Illustrated’s coveted swimsuit issue.

Afterward, we all have a pushup competition, with my friends’ corgi puppy often, if not always, getting in the way.