Monday, March 5, 2012

The First And Last Time I Will Ever Write About The Ultimate Fighter (Maybe)


I've never been a fan of reality television. This is because watching reality television doesn't make me feel closer to reality, which is it's alleged goal. It's a spectrum where producers are manipulating scenarios and heavily editing sequences to tell the story they want to tell.

When the Ultimate Fighter debuted in 2005, I looked at it as an attempt to capitalize on a fad. The fights would be real, but otherwise, we'd see only what the producers wanted us to see.

Something strange happened at the finale, though: word spread. As Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar started re-enacting the fight scene from They Live (emphatic hat tip to anyone who got that reference ... it's the greatest fight scene in movie history), ratings gained momentum. By the start of the third round, they had officially skyrocketed. The consensus seemed to be that, even if you weren't a fan of reality TV, the reward of seeing guys fight live for a six-figure Zuffa contract was enticing enough for the masses to tune in.

Well, imagine this happening at the end of every episode, and you start to get an idea of what the Ultimate Fighter 15 will be like. Will it produce better fights? Logic would seem to suggest that it would. Knowing that millions of people will be watching you at that very moment instead of fighting at 3 in the afternoon with the knowledge that nobody will see what you did for months has to do something for the competitive juices.

There's another wrinkle. Actually, it's more of a full fledged crease, but whatever. As is the norm for the show, the two coaches (one Dominick Cruz and one Urijah Faber) will square off after the season. They'll pick their respective teams, they'll impart their wisdom to all the young bucks, and I'm sure they'll engage in some form of psychological warfare, because "these guys don't like each other!" Blah blah blah. The difference is that, since the season is live, they will be going through their training camps to fight each other on the show. ON THE SHOW. In other words, not only do they want to pick the best teams, but they will essentially be selecting training partners.

Consider the potential ramifications of this. Will this change the methods of coaching and training, knowing that they have the proverbial "dog in the fight"? What if there was a mole? Like a "Unless you impair Urijah Faber to the point that he's significantly compromised, yet still fit enough to fight, you can kiss that family you love so much goodbye" mob movie type situation. Wouldn't that be incredible? Hey, the Saints are in the news for stuff like this. Would it really be that out of the question? Joking aside, can you imagine some greenhorn sparring with Cruz, getting frustrated, and intentionally injuring him? Would the internet shut down? I think it would.

The point is, noteworthy things could happen this season. The cast is solid, and it's laden with more guys I've heard of than maybe any previous cast. You have Cristiano Marcello, a PRIDE veteran who was beaten by my boy Mitsuhiro Ishida and is most famous for choking out Charles "Krazy Horse" Bennett after a backstage conflict at PRIDE's 2005 Shockwave show. You have Drew Dober and Jordan Rinaldi, two guys that have a few skills and enough raw talent to really go far someday. And lastly, you have Dakota Cochrane, who is coming off a win against the formally prolific Jamie Varner and once participated in gay porn. To me, the nuttiest (See what I did there?) part about the whole Dakota Cochrane thing is that "Dakota Cochrane" WAS NOT his porn name. Has there ever been anyone who had a parent-given name that sounded more like a porn name without actually, you know, using it as their porn name? I understand discretion. Yeah, but still.

I'm going to watch this season of the Ultimate Fighter, and I've never made that declaration BEFORE a season started. In the past, I had to be talked into it. This time, I'm in. Not only that, but the Cochrane thing had my girl saying "I'll watch it with you." We have a winner! ... At least for the first episode.

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