When I first heard that CBS would be showing MMA on national television I had the same reaction that most MMA fans had...whoohoo! I am a huge advocate for MMA, and I thought this would be a great way to show people what MMA is all about and beat all the negative stereotypes that are associated with it.
Well let me say that after watching the "show" I was less than impressed.
The fights themselves were some of the better fights I have seen but the overall "show" did very little to deter the negative stereotypes I want so much to go away. Lets look more closely at the "show".
The first thing that jumped out at me was the commentators. The only person that knew what they were talking about was Frank Shamrock. At first he looked like a fish out of water, but recovered and finished strong.
I was hoping that the commentating would be excellent. What better way to display your sport in a good light than have someone there to talk an uneducated viewer though what they are seeing. Lets face it, MMA can look really weird if you have no idea what is going on.
The second thing that jumped out at me and probably everyone else was the over-the-top entertainment in the form of dancing girls and fighter intros.
I'm a guy and I can appreciate beautiful women, but I wasn't expecting the runway to be Saturday night at the local titty-bar. Many people look at fighters as a bunch of meat heads that want to drink, fight, and womanize all day. The dancing girls, in my opinion, did nothing but affirm this notion.
Of course many other promotions use girls as a way to entertain, but I felt like CBS used the girls in a tasteless way. The whole idea for the "show" was to showcase MMA, but it is kinda hard to do that when the camera is focusing on the dancing. And the Phil Baroni intro...I'm not even going to say anything.
The third and (after reading many articles) biggest thing would have to be the inconsistent refereeing. The Kimbo Slice/James Thompson fight is a prime example of this and at the center of the controversy.
At the end of the second round Thompson took top position and proceeded to put a beating on Slice for more than a minute, most of which involved Slice doing very little to defend himself. As a fan I was flinching in my chair during this time because I knew a stoppage was coming, but it never did.
I was very surprised. MMA always talks about the safety of its fighters, and stoppages in situations like that are very common due to that reason. In my opinion, Slice was left in a very unsafe position for much longer than necessary.
At the start of the third round Slice caught Thompson with a crisp combination that obviously rocked Thompson. The referee stepped in immediately and stopped the fight. The problem with this is that a) it makes the fight look "fishy" and b) the stoppage was unfair to Thompson.
Now I understand "unfair" is a bad way to describe the stoppage but think about the position Thompson had Slice in for over a minute just a few moments before. Thompson did everything that warrants a stoppage in MMA but was not awarded one.
On the other hand Slice connected a few strong punches (that did not floor his opponent) and the fight was immediately ended.
With the fights being on network television, the quality of the fights will suffer.
For example: the blood during the Scott Smith/Robbie Lawler fight, in my opinion, lead to the fight being stopped. I feel if the fight were on pay-per-view, SpikeTV, or VS, the fight would have continued. The style of the fight and damage each fighter took was common place among MMA fans, but to the uneducated eye it was just a bar room brawl. I think this will be common place for fights that are shown live on national television.
While the "show" was disappointing, the fights were above average.
The Lawler/Smith fight was amazing and I was very sad to see it ended. I look forward to the second fight, but am predicting that it won't be as exciting as the fighters have fought once before and game plans will be changed.
Gina Carano/Kaitlin Young fight was extraordinary! I love to see women fight because they leave it all in the cage. Dana White said there will never be women fighter in the UFC (which will be discussed in a later article about whats wrong with the UFC) and he needs to reconsider.
The Slice/Thompson fight was interesting. Thompson was Slice's hardest opponent to date, and this fight forced Slice to display his ground game, which wasn't too shabby.
The Phil Baroni/Joey Villasenor fight was entertaining and short, which didn't bother me too much as I'm not a big fan of Baroni.
Overall the fights were great, the "show" sucked, but could be improved very easily. Only time will tell and I am excited to see what is to come!