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Out of place


Kris and I watched last week's episode of The Ultimate Fighter tonight. Kris had watched most of it last week, when he discovered it was being recorded. I was on my way out the door, distracted by something or other, and didn't stop to watch. I watched tonight when I released that all of the other shows that had recorded were mine (can you say, "Battlestar Galactica Season Premiere?").

This season varied from other seasons in a number of gross (as in large, not as in disgusting) ways. The most obvious way was in the need for fighters to earn their spots on the show. Instead of introducing 16 fighters to the house, each of who went through whatever obstacle course the coaches had devised in order to decide which fighters the coaches wanted on his team, 32 fighters were brought onto the show and told to weigh-in the next day, and fight the following day. "My dream shot!" half of them lamented, "this is my dream shot, and now I might not get it."

Those are the guys I bet against.

The idea behind inviting 32 fighters instead of 16 is minimize the number of head cases, the guys without the go-go-go-fight-fight-fight attitude, those without heart, on the first day. If you didn't come prepared, how could you expect the coaches to prepare you? Show up in the best shape you can be, and let the coaches help you to be even better.

The ones that showed up and thought, "32, eh? One more guy to go through for my shot. Whatever." Now those are the ones who I bet on.

Not that I actually bet on any of these fights with Kris. More like, "I pick that guy to win."

Another way this season is different is that all of the fighters are of the same weight class, instead of two weight classes. I suspect the producers did that to save money. Not that a "three year, six figure contract" is that impressive. Sure, it SOUNDS impressive, but look at the actual numbers: six figures can be as low as 100,000. The award isn't worded as "six figures for three years," it's a "three year, six figure" contract. Which means, the winner might just receive 34,000 the first year, 33,000 the second year and 33,000 the third year. Technically, it's the bare-minimum of the stated award.

And way not worth getting the crap beat out of you for.

When we started watching the episode, after a number of the fighters were introduced, the head of the UFC, Dana White, came on camera and started talking. He actually started cursing up a storm about all the pansies (my word) who can't quite cut it, complaining about *beep* this and *beep* that, and how the *beep* guys who deserve a shot are *beep* not because some *beep* needed his colon *beep* and *beep* this other.

The thing about all of White's cursing is that, aside from the fact that it's completely unnecessary to make his various points, it seems completely out of place. It's like he curses just to make himself look bigger in the eyes of the fighters who actually could squash him like the bug he is. Almost like a small person who doesn't quite know how to use the words, so he over uses them in hopes that everyone will think he can use them correctly. So he curses and *beep*s this and *beep*s that. It's a little annoying, actually. They just seem so foreign, coming from him.

I commented to Kris that maybe I should write him a letter and tell him how out of place his cursing seems. Kris commented, "Nah. He'd just curse at you."

While watching, Kris also commented that he was surprised at the number of white guys on the show. Of the 32 guys who came onto the show, about 3/4 of the guys were white. Most of the shows had a similar demographic, though we had no idea if the UFC fighters were of the same general percentages. We speculated as to why this demographic might be.

Kris speculated that, as blacks and latinos began dominating boxing (with the heavier and lighter weight classes, respectively), the lesser skilled/talented/gifted/trained white guys moved into mixed martial arts as a way to continue to fight without being dominated. Boxing is but one aspect of Ultimate Fighting, and everyone knows a skilled jujitsu fighter is going to cream that boxer.

The downside to his speculation is that perhaps there should be more Asians, if mixed martial arts were actually the focus. We talked about how martial arts and mixed martial arts are different, and how much we'd have to look at the demographics of martial arts before following up on that speculation: neither of us knowing how much was prejudice and how much was culture and how much was fact in the Asian dominance of martial arts.

My speculation was that the Ultimate Fighter show looked at the viewing audience, and decided to bring on more fighters the viewers could relate to. Look at any ultimate fighting crowd, and it's quite similar in makeup to the WWF crowd: white, minimal post-secondary education, middle to lower class income (I'm trying so hard NOT to say "white trash," because that has other connotations that I don't want or mean). The crowd is more likely to support the boy next door than the boy from the other side of the tracks, or the border if they swing that way.

Of course, my speculation hinged on the Ultimate Fighter producers actually checking such statistics, and actually adjusting for them. Not exactly a sure thing.

The first episode had eight fights, one knockout, three disappointments from the coaches, one from me, and one pansy-ass guy crying ("Are you crying? There's no crying in baseball!"). He was one of the guys for whom "this was my dream! if I don't make it, I don't know what I'm going to do."

I kept thinking, tell you what guy, I have a summer job for you. I'll keep you busy all summer. You can wax-on, wax-off washing the cars, and pulling weeds. What do you say?