(Just try and ignore it, passing motorists.)
Today is my lucky day, Potato Nation. Here I am in Vegas for UFC 94, and it’s the grand opening of the Tito Ortiz Punishment MMA Store. What are the odds!? Even better, the store is conveniently located inside the Hooters Hotel and Casino across from the MGM Grand, where the fights will take place tomorrow night, so naturally I had to drop in and see what kind of sweet Team Punishment gear I could pick up.
A sign informed me that Justin “The Insane 1” McCully and Tiki Ghosn would be signing autographs tomorrow afternoon, thus completing what is perhaps MMA’s greatest D-list event.
The store itself is tiny, and filled with exactly the kinds of clothes you’d expect. Almost every t-shirt featured either a fist or chains, sometimes a combination of both. Despite today being the grand opening, however, I was the only person in the store. Well, aside from the three teenage girls working there, who were all fairly brimming with excitement (see below).
(“Pretend like you’re really proud of it,” I told her before snapping this picture. She did her best.)
What you see above is one of several fashion options for infants that Team Punishment offers. They also have stuff for the ladies, like the garish wifebeater that I pointed out to another store employee and asked, “Do you think my mom would like this?”
“Um, I don’t know,” she said, looking at it as if this was the first time she had really seen it for what it was. Maybe her future isn’t in sales, after all.
(There’s just no way to ask a guy if you can take a picture of the back of his shirt without it seeming weird.)
After I’d had enough of Punishment gear I headed over to the MGM Grand, where you can hardly take a step without seeing one of these B.J. Penn t-shirts. If fights were determined by sheer number and visibility of one’s supporters, Penn would have this in the bag.
Among the places I’ve spotted these Penn supporters so far: shooting craps at the Tropicana, smoking a cigarette outside the airport, paying some guy at Excalibur five dollars to guess his weight, arguing with a girl who looked suspiciously like Daisy from “Rock of Love” outside a CVS, and in the sportsbook at the MGM Grand.
This last location is where I ended my afternoon excursion, checking out the lines for UFC 94. Since opening at -175 on January 15, Georges St. Pierre has since come down to -155, whereas Penn is now going off at +135. I guess I don’t have to tell you what I did next.
(Look who stands to make a cool $12.90, suckers.)
A twenty spot on St. Pierre seemed more than justified with odds like this. But I couldn’t walk away without betting on an underdog. Preferably a big underdog. Just to get the old adrenaline flowing. So then I did something kind of stupid.
(You should see the look the lady at the sportsbook gives you when you butcher Dong Hyun Kim‘s name before eventually giving up and just pointing at it like a Japanese tourist in a Denny’s.)
Did I immediately feel like I’d made a bad, impulsive decision? Damn straight. But that’s why they call it gambling. And what with the good luck I’ve been having today — you know, the Team Punishment store opening and all — how can I lose?!
Now it’s off to the weigh-ins. Check back later for a full report.