Philadelphia sports fans have earned themselves quite a reputation.
The group that famously booed Santa Claus and applauded Michael Irvin’s career-ending injury at Veterans Stadium no doubt will be out in full force Saturday for the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first foray into the market.
The four headline fighters were issued what essentially amounted to a warning at Thursday’s news conference.
“Bring your ‘A’ game, and they’ll bring their ‘A’ game,” Greg Sirb, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission, said of Philadelphia fans. “You bring your ‘B’ game, and they’ll bring their ‘B’ game. The ‘B’ game is you know what — they’ll boo you no matter what here if you bring your ‘B’ game.”
As he addressed the assembled fighters and media, Sirb could not have filled the role of stereotypical Philadelphian more closely if he had a cheesesteak hanging out of one side of his mouth and a Tastykake in the other side.
“I want to tell these fighters, you know, this ain’t Vegas. This ain’t Jersey. This is Philly,” Sirb said.
• VICTORINO A FAN — Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino is among a growing number of athletes from other sports to express passion for mixed martial arts.
The Las Vegas resident has been a longtime fan of the sport and said several of his teammates share an interest, including Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee.
Victorino said he is growing frustrated with having to defend MMA.
“The misunderstanding that some people have, and I hear the word from people, is that it’s human dogfighting. Me being an athlete myself and understanding and being around some of these guys and watching them train, it really frustrates me to have to (defend) what this sport really is,” he said. “Nobody would ever say that about boxing. (MMA) has evolved.”
• PENN NOT IN NEVADA — Saturday will mark the first time BJ Penn will be in action since his struggles with the Nevada Athletic Commission in the aftermath of his loss to Georges St. Pierre.
After no action was taken against St. Pierre for his alleged “greasing” in that fight, Penn said he never again would fight in Nevada.
With this fight being scheduled for Philadelphia, he hasn’t had to face the prospect of standing by his word.
He chose not to discuss the issue when a question was posed to him about his future in Nevada, where many UFC events take place.