Bob Daigle has immersed himself in martial arts ever since he was a kid, so it’s not surprising that the former world karate champion was at the recent Ultimate Fighting Championship Fight Night 26 in his hometown of Boston.
There he met Forrest Griffin, who expressed an interest in coming here for a seminar.
Daigle, 52, ran a successful karate club for 14 years and is building up again his kickboxing classes in schools, particularly Prospect Primary.
Still an active fighter, he even found the time and energy in Boston to come out of a long retirement to win a masters tournament and give a good account of himself in the Open final against a fighter half his age.
Getting Griffin and other big name UFC stars in the Cayman Islands will help raise interest in martial arts here, Daigle figures.
So his trip to Boston was multi-layered, encompassing social, competitive, fun and business.
The UFC’s Fight Night 26 main event saw Chael Sonnen surprise many with an early submission of former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Sonnen was a slight underdog entering the bout, but his sensational finish was never predicted.
“It was absolutely incredible, like being in a Roman colosseum,” said Daigle, who was amused when he saw an Irish fighter, Conor McGregor, enter and the crowd roared.
“There is a huge Irish community in Boston and when he entered, they went crazy. Absolutely nuts. It was like when Randy Couture fought James Toney there.
“Even Dana White (UFC president) said that the fight card delivered. The exciting part for me was through a friend, the owner of www.elitemmashirtclub.com, I was able to get in on the floor, right after the weigh-ins and meet all the fighters.”
He added, “It was incredible that at the time, being dehydrated, they stood there and talked with me and a lot of them said they would love to come to the Cayman Islands for seminars.
“Forrest Griffin, who is a future Hall of Famer, said that he heard through his friends who came here, Danny Davies Jr. and Derek Weaver, that the Cayman Islands are the place to go. “They were treated really well and the Island is absolutely beautiful. Griffin said that he would love to come down and others have said that. It’s just a matter of talking to them and figuring out who and when but it will eventually happen.”
The show itself was immensely entertaining, he said and Sonnen winning so quickly and easily caught everyone by suprise.
“When Sonnen submitted Shogun Rua, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt legend, the audience just gasped and was silent for a second and then just roared like a big, giant tidal wave. It was incredible,” Daigle said.
“The Alistair Overeem-Travis Brown fight was phenomenal, too. Alistair was beating him senseless with body shots and then Travis came back with a front kick. He was the first heavyweight to do it and drop Overeem. The crowd just gasped.”
This was the third UFC show Daigle attended, his second in Boston and the most exciting yet. He also attended the first ever UFC show in Las Vegas in 2001.
“White really knows what he is doing and, when they run another UFC show in Florida, people in the Caribbean need to go up there and enjoy it because you won’t be disappointed. I can’t wait to go to the next one,” said Daigle.
Nor can Griffin wait to come here.