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By Dianne R. Davis
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Photos by Dianne R. Davis or Burt Davis

UFC Fans Meet Shane Carwin at Lagasse’s Stadium
Fans Line Up for his Autograph

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UFC? I didn’t have much of a clue as to what it was so I certainly hadn’t heard of Shane Carwin before last week. But I did some research and found out that Shane Carwin is an American mixed martial arts fighter who competes in the heavyweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

I didn’t have to know much about the sport to be impressed when I read that he is undefeated and holds the distinction of having beat all his opponents in the first round. When I saw him at Lagasse’s Stadium at the Palazzo on May 29, I could see why as of April, he was ranked as the #4 heavyweight fighter in the world by Sherdog.

In the few minutes I had to chat with him, I didn’t deal with here and now. Why ask him about his next fight? He’d simply tell me he was going to win it and based on his track record and his physique, I’d be inclined to believe him. So instead, I asked the fighter, husband, and father of two what he saw himself doing in the future. After all, I said to him, “This is an occupation that doesn’t last forever. When you look ahead, ten years from now, will you still be doing this?”

“Ten years from now,” he told me, “I’ll be hanging out with my family … my kids and my wife, and hopefully coaching little league football. I’m going to give back for all the coaches gave me.  And I’ll be working a full time job doing engineering.”

Good answer. And not surprising from a guy who not only excelled in football and wrestling, but was also an all American academic award winner. Guess I’ll be watching UFC 116 on July 3 when Shane fights Brock Lesnar.


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Inside the stadium hundreds of fans were waiting to see Shane and to be part of the UFC 114 Rampage vs. Evans Viewing party. He graciously spent time signing autographs for fans.

It was standing room only, but luckily, they found a seat for me and my husband.a row behind Shane and his wife Lani and pals.

From where we sat, it was clearly a party atmosphere with plenty of food and drinks for sale at surprisingly reasonable prices. The capacity of the facility is over 1300 and they reached it with people in the halls who got in as others left.

Shane was able to view the matches from the center section with its plush couches and pillows and the perfect view of the 9’ X 16’ flat screen television. FYI, he snacked on Emeril Lagasse cuisine including Mediterranean style hummus, grilled chicken nachos, and slow roasted chicken breast.

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I got into a conversation with Danny and Wayne (behind Shane) who had traveled from Sydney, Australia to watch the matches and enjoy some good golf in Las Vegas. Although they had tickets to the big event at the MGM Arena, they chose to watch from their comfortable spot in Lagasse’s stadium where they could enjoy “good eats and drinks” as well as the commentary on the closed circuit broadcast.

It was fun cheering along with them and the hundreds of others there. It was even more fun when my guy was the winner. And Lagasse stadium is a winner as well. I think I’d be more than willing to go back in the future when they host other celebrity sports figures.

World Series of Poker is Underway at the Rio

The 41st annual World Series of Poker® (WSOP) returned Thursday, May 27 to the Rio all-Suite Hotel & Casino with live action and satellite games. Between now and July 17, a total of 57 gold bracelets will be up for grabs in competitions televised on ESPN.

One of the most notable events this week was the start of the $50,000 buy-in Player’s Championship, the most expensive buy-in event to ever open up the World Series of Poker.

Players compete for the bracelet and the prestigious Chip Reese Memorial Trophy in an eight-game format made popular by the late poker legend. Over the first four days, they play Limit Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Razz, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha and 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball with the Final Table being No-Limit Hold’em, as was the case when Reese won the inaugural $50K buy-in event in 2006. ESPN will provide television coverage of this event under the new format.

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When I stopped by, I saw Doyle Bronson, Daniel Negreanu, Mike Matusow, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, etc. What a field of players. Spectators can get pretty close to the action and have the opportunity to meet and greet players when they aren’t busy doing what they do best, playing poker.

This past weekend also featured a $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament.

Another first at the WSOP this year, the first 5 weekends of the series will feature $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournaments with two starting flights. May 29-30, June 5-6, June 12-13, June 19-20 and June 26-27 will offer No-Limit Hold’em players from the weekend warrior to the most advanced player the opportunity to compete in some of the largest fields of the year for huge prize pools and a gold bracelet. A sixth event on July 1-2, will also offer the same event at the same buy-in level, just days before the Main Event commences.

The 41st annual WSOP will conclude with the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship (aka the Main Event) which begins play Monday, July 5 and should reach its final table (nine players) on Saturday, July 17, at which time play will be halted for the third consecutive year. The famed tournament’s culmination will be held with the “November Nine” from November 6-9, before a live audience with special primetime coverage from ESPN.

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You really have to see it to believe it. The entire convention center of the Rio is dedicated to poker. That includes the 58,000 square foot Pavilion and the 38,000 square foot Amazon Room.

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In 2009, the WSOP generated the most entries ever (60,875) from 115 different countries that competed for more than $174 million while awarding 57 championship gold bracelets, globally recognized as the game’s top prize.

To view the entire schedule, visit WSOP.com/schedule where you can download event structures, pre-registration forms or save the schedule to your calendar and even link it to your Facebook, Twitter or other social network sites.

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