"Born down in a deadman's town, the first kick I took was when I hit the ground," goes Bruce Springsteen's classic "Born in the USA", the song, incidentally, that Paul Felder walked out to for what turned out to be a bloodbath against his New Zealand lightweight opponent Dan Hooker.
Hooker, who trains just down the road in Mt Eden, was deservedly successful in the main event of UFC's Fight Night at Auckland's Spark Arena – he won a split decision – but while he showed the effects of a gruelling 25 minutes in the ring with Felder, it was the American who suffered by far the worst injuries – perhaps even a broken cheekbone.
It goes without saying that participants in this sport need to be tough - the pair went to hospital afterwards - but the man from Philadelphia won over even the partisan Auckland crowd with his durability and heart. By the end of it his right eye was closed, his cheek bulging grotesquely, and yet he was still throwing bombs with both hands, seemingly unconcerned with what Hooker had planned.
Hooker, determined to teach the visitor – ranked one place above him in sixth – a lesson after some perceived slights in the build-up, limped into his dressing room afterwards, his own face damaged too, but not without hugging his young daughter first.
For Felder, a polished broadcaster with a future in that area, this could be his final fight and few would have grounds to could complain if it is. "That might be it," he said in the octagon afterwards, his voice breaking. "I've got a four-year-old at home that misses me every time I go away."
Hooker, who collapsed in relief at the verdict, said: "I'll defend this land no matter what the cost."
If it was brutality that the crowd and television viewers came for, that's what they got on a successful day for all three Kiwi fighters on the card; Kai Kara-France and Brad Riddell also won, their victories, like Hooker's, overseen by the zen-like figure of coach Eugene Bareman.
This was pure violence on a thoroughly organised scale; a slick equal-opportunities production where selected men and women alike were free to step into the cage and both dispense pain and receive it.
Many of them hug their assistants before they take those short steps up to the octagon as if they are about to go on an extremely long journey - which they are to a certain extent. Certainly their safety can't be assured and there is every possibility they will be altered in some way. Both Hooker and Felder can testify to that.
Every second between bouts is seemingly accounted for and the turnaround between them is extremely short, albeit filled with music hovering around the earsplitting decibel level. If you were inclined, there would hardly be time to collect a pint from the bar in between bouts but a fair few seemed to manage it.
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Everyone knew what they were there for and they generally got what they expected, although Riddell may have felt a creeping nervousness before being awarded a split decision lightweight victory over Russian Magomed Mustafaev.
Riddell, wearing plenty of Mustafaev's blood on his face, celebrated long and hard on the conclusion of their fight, while the morose Mustafaev looked like a man who had lost a fight.
In fact, Riddell began celebrating during the fight, a showboating initiated by fellow Kiwi Kara-France, who earlier looked into the crowd in mock shock as if to see where his opponent Tyson Nam's missed kick had gone.
In the end it was given to the man who goes by the name of "Quake", who on the way back to his dressing room, marked his win by quickly downing a plastic pint of lager handed to him by a member of the crowd. There were no queuing issues for Riddell on the occasion of his second win in two UFC appearances and first at home.
Successful as the Kiwi trio were, it was perhaps Felder, born in the USA, who earned changed the crowd's perceptions the most. "He's a tough son of a gun," said Hooker.