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God Save Team USA in MMA
Unlike a lot of the American television audience, I abhor reality programming—I just hate it.
There's nothing real about a bunch of mental midgets being as reprehensible or as "interesting" as possible while the cameras are rolling. Furthermore, most of the shows out there are recycled offal with a little tweak that's supposed to squeeze another season out of a tired idea.
No moral judgments if you happen to like Big Brother 100 or whatever the hell is out there these days—I'm guilty of far worse sins against humanity. It's simply not for me.
However, like every rule, this one has an exception and it's found in the form of The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV.
I don't mean TUF is an exception to any of the pratfalls of reality programming—far from it. The cast always features some mule-sans-horse who is more concerned with mugging for the cameras than he is about fighting/training. Plus, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White ensures the house is devoid of diversion save for alcohol.
Think that's a calculated move?
Throwing 16 fighters, ranging in age from 21 to their early 30s, into a house for weeks on end and taking away television, music, video games, etc. while leaving only booze?
Yeah, Dana and the dons he answers to know exactly the powder keg they're creating. Faux-consternation and f-bombs to the contrary, White loves every second of drunken, testosterone-fueled controversy that makes it to his viewers' living rooms.
And, in a great show of hypocrisy, so do I. Oh well.
Anyway, this season of my guilty pleasure features a team of fighters from the United States of America, coached by "Dangerous" Dan Henderson (whom I love). The Yanks square off against a team of fighters hailing from the United Kingdom, coached by Michael "The Count" Bisping (whom I do not).
As has become the custom on TUF, the show began with 32 contestants who were then paired up and forced to fight their way into a whittled final group. During those preliminary fights, the Brits looked like dogs in my admittedly novice opinion.
There were a couple comers in the group, but it seemed like any American team sincerely picked to dispatch their counterparts from across the Pond would do so easily.
Whether Dana, et al. hamstrung the Team USA by taking middle-packers or I'm merely a poor judge of mixed martial arts talent (almost a sure thing) won't be known until these guys are released on the UFC-ranks at-large.
Regardless, I was dead-wrong about the season's results thus far.
Despite suffering a defeat at the hands of what looks to be a weaker member of Team USA, Team UK still owns a 4-3 lead—as in four of its fighters have advanced to the next round versus three for the Stars and Bars. Although one of Britain's better fighters has been bounced, they're still looking to be in good shape inside the Octagon.
Outside it, they're looking even rosier and smelling much sweeter. The limeys are whooping our tail in the public relations battle.
The American fighters have spent the first eight episodes basically confirming every ugly stereotype about our fair Nation (again, possibly a calculated move).
First, you had a guy miss weight for the American prelims, meaning he essentially showed up for his chance at the brass ring too fat to fight. Well done.
Then, in those same prelims, another American fighter showed up with a herpes lesion. Exit stage left. Not a great start to say the least.
In subsequent episodes, the hometown boys (or at least the ones TUF producers selected for emphasis) have been bickering amongst themselves, sniping at each other like a pack of teenage girls, moping around, complaining about each trivial inconvenience, and essentially behaving like spoiled prima donnas.
Yet, it doesn't stop them from horrific posturing.
Usually, there is a healthy bit of macho-transparency, but these guys are taking it a new level.
Listening to them, you'd believe they'd fought every day of their lives against modern gladiators without a scratch to show for it.
Watching them, you'd think they grew up in a skirt—I'm not kidding, one guy claimed to have NEVER had an infection before in 25+ years of life and proceeded to spray disinfectant throughout the entire house (as if breathing Lysol is somehow healthy).
This is a guy who claims to want to fight for a living...and still got staph, delicious.
Some have even taken to ignoring Henderson's instruction—that would be Dan Henderson, former Pride Fighting Championship welterweight and middleweight champion (simultaneously) as well as an Olympic wrestler. In other words, a man whose advice you should heed.
These are men/boys trying to make it, mind you, not ones who've already done so.
There have been bright spots for Team USA—Santino DeFranco, who came back to fight after being diagnosed with two brain aneurysms; Cameron Dollar (who knew point guards could fight?), who admitted to being terrified before every set-to and then proceeded to dominate an allegedly superior opponent; DaMarques Johnson, who looks like a legitimate force and generally infuriates Bisping (always a bonus); and, of course, the unparalleled brilliance that is Dan Henderson.
How he manages to be so enjoyable in constant monotone tickles me every time.
Nevertheless, Team UK's maturity, intelligence, sense of humor, and overall likability is staggering by contrast. Even the Count is cashing in on his opportunity to make himself more endearing (kind of).
Perhaps it's all part of the UFC's grand plan to take the brand into international waters.
If the idea is to create a fanbase for Team UK, it's working like a charm.
Re: God Save Team USA in MMA
Except the preview antic that the count throws water at an USA athlete.
I am more disappointed in the the level of a fighters abilities. I can not believe that the UFC pick the cream of the crop from the US but rather a UK vs US competitive match up team. I think that the level is not what it should be after 5+ seasons. I know it is to make UFC fighter that are not already superstar, but get some better talent. I saw a high school wrestler that is a 50/50 wrestler takedown one the of current season members with ease at practice. Not good for the US, but at least it will help promote the sport of MMA internationally.
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