Just when Strikeforce seem poised to grab headlines with their Heavyweight Grand Prix, the UFC announced the latest season of "The Ultimate Fighter." Featuring Brock Lesnar and Junior Dos Santos, as well as a whole new cast of cooped up TapouT-clad muscle-heads with drinking problems and oh yeah—a dream of one day fighting in the UFC.
Not to mention the season sets up Brock Lesnar vs. Junior Dos Santos. Either Junior makes his statement for best heavyweight in the world, or Brock announces that he's back, baby.
Now the second round of the Strikeforce GP is on indefinite hiatus pending Scott Coker finding a land lawless enough to license Josh Barnett. Now the UFC once again seems poised to dominate the headlines at Heavyweight, even with champ Cain Velasquez on the sidelines for the first half of 2011.
Read on as I reveal five bold predictions for this season of Spike's reality TV bonanza.
With another season of “The Ultimate Fighter” around the corner, one thing is for sure: flimsy balsa wood doors better beware.
Okay, the doors in the TUF gym might not be balsa wood, but whatever they’re made of isn’t enough to stop an angry MMA fighter from doing some serious (looking) property damage.
In what’s become somewhat of a tradition on the show, whenever someone feels angry, cheated, frustrated, or just wants to do some quick remodelling, they pick a fight with one of the wooden doors. It’s not a very long fight. It’s utterly one-sided. And it leaves a lot of splinters.
The tradition started with original “bad boy” contestant/hopeless drunk Chris Leben, who famously put his hand through a glass door in a fit of garden-hose-induced insanity. As he quickly found out, punching through glass isn’t exactly a smart thing to do.
Well MMA fighters are nothing if not an adaptive bunch. Safer, less sturdy wooden doors became the target of angry tantrums from then on out. Rampage Jackson, Forrest Griffin, Tito Ortiz. All of them have worn UFC gold and represented the pinnacle of the sport. All of them have had less than positive run-ins with a wooden door.
And let’s not forget that Coach Lesnar already has a history of door related violence. Bet dollars to donuts on another door getting smashed before the season’s out.
This season’s cast features all welterweight contestants, so you know what that means: before the season’s out, Dana White is anointing one of the contestants “the next GSP.”
Yes, here is another TUF “tradition,“ sort of, that I see no reason to believe is going away. Now, it’s not always GSP specifically, but most of the time, a fighter is getting coined “the next [insert P4P great]”, if not by White then by fans and media.
Remember when White famously proclaimed he had found “the next Anderson Silva”on the show’s eighth season? Most people assumed he was referring to Philippe Nover, and boy, talk about jumping the gun a little bit.
Anderson Silva has the longest undefeated streak in UFC history. Philippe Nover went 0-3 in the UFC and has retired from fighting full time.
I’m guessing we won’t see “The Filipino Assassin” towering over the Pound-for-Pound list anytime soon.
Actually, we never did find out who White was talking about specifically, so maybe he was referring to…Ryan Bader? You mean the guy who just lost to the actual next Anderson Silva? Or maybe he was referring to Efrain Escudaro, one of the few TUF winners bounced from the UFC.
Or maybe, he was just hyping a season of reality TV. Look for the same kind of hyperbole this season - hey, it’s why we all watch, right? What’s reality TV without a little good ol’ fashioned BS?
When Brock Lesnar—that WWF-wrestling, NFL-football-playing, Coors-Light-drinking son of a gun—was announced as the latest coach on “The Ultimate Fighter,” some MMA purists sh*t a brick. Figuratively speaking, of course.
What right does Lesnar, only 5-2 in his career, and still in some respects a “rookie,” have taking on that hallowed TUF coaching mantle? The same one adorned by legends of this game like Chuck Liddell, “Minotauro” Nogueria, Randy Couture, and BJ Penn.
What could a neophyte Lesnar possibly teach this batch of raw recruits, some of whom have more professional fights under their belts then he does?
Well, as Dana White pointed out in his usual measured, diplomatic style, those kind of criticisms are way off base. The truth is, Brock Lesnar has all the credentials and more importantly, all the “cred” it takes to ascend to the status of “Reality TV Coach”.
As White pointed out, Brock has worn UFC gold, and he beat some damn good fighters to get and keep his belt. I doubt any heavyweight TUF’er could walk in off the street and hand Frank Mir his ass like Brock did, or smash Heath Herring across the ring like he was the Hulk, or feed “Captain America’s” dazed noggin’ an all you can eat buffet of hammer fists.
What’s more, Brock trains with some world class coaches, and he’ll no doubt bring a few of them along with him to help him handle the coaching. No one would say GSP is an elite level coach. But Greg Jackson, John Danaher, or Phil Nurse? Those guys all qualify—and Georges brought all of them along when he was a coach this past season.
Marty Morgan and Rodrigo Comprido would also qualify as elite level, and they also happen to coach Mr. Lesnar. Expect Brock to bring at least one, if not both of them, along to give him a hand.
Junior Dos Santos has always been one of my favourite heavyweights to watch. I remember predicting big things from Junior in his UFC debut at UFC 90 against Fabrico Werdum and being laughed out of the room. 1:20 later, I was doing an end zone dance in my living room while everyone else picked their jaws up off the floor.
Junior didn’t disappoint me then, and he hasn’t since. This opportunity to get exposure with American audiences through cable TV is a golden one, and I’m glad he’s taken it (and that the UFC trusted him with something as important as a TUF gig).
Unfortunately for Dos Santos, I see the quiet, sorta fugly lookin’ ESL guy with the weird name fading into the background of a Brock Lesnar-dominated season.
One hallmark of Junior’s demeanour inside and outside the cage has been his low-key, laid back style. He’s quiet and humble before the fight, quiet, focused and sportsmanlike during the fight, and quiet and humble after the fight, Not exactly the best recipe for reality TV fireworks.
Next to the bullish, dominating Lesnar, I just don’t see Dos Santos getting more then a complimentary glance or two during the season.
Oh don’t get me wrong, he’s still a coach and he’ll still be in every episode. There’s no conspiracy afoot here. I just see there being an occasional “now let’s check in on what Junior Dos Santos is doing!” interlude in between Brock Lesnar drama and pent-up 20 something’s getting drunk.
Brock Lesnar is a man of many talents. He’s big. He’s strong. He’s good at wrestling, both amateur and professional. He once played in the NFL, mostly because he was big and strong. He can also help write his own autobiography. And go hunting. He once shot skeet right off his back porch. He eats a lot of beef jerky. Did I mention how big and strong he was?
Turns out the big man can dance, too, and I predict in the boldest of bold predictions that Brock Lesnar is going to drop a little break dancing wisdom on his team this season.
What, you’ve never seen Brock Lesnar cut up the rug?
Who could forget his tribute to 80’s break dancing with “The Lesnar Shuffle” he debuted against Cain Velasquez (a white man from North Dakota busting out dance moves on a Mexican—serves him right)?
Not a fan of hip hop? Lesnar does interpretive dance as well. At least I think that’s what he was doing here.
Only a truly subtle eye can discern the brilliance of Lesnar’s work against what would otherwise be a boorish and startling display of unchained rage. Maybe he was channelling a Tyrannosaurus? Or a Doberman? Or the Alien from “Alien”?
A fan of “Cirque-de-Soleil” style acrobatics? Lesnar isn’t afraid to take extreme risks in order to pull off those high flying moves - or kill himself trying.
Still, Lesnar is most at home in his down home, country n’ western roots. Nothing gets the big guy going like a good old fashioned hoedown.
I predict Lesnar will pass along some of these finely honed dance moves to his eager young apprentices—or maybe even bust out a few of them himself, should Team Lesnar find itself on a winning streak.