As the sport of MMA continues to grow in popularity, more and more fighters are making the jump to that most hallowed of mediums: mainstream television.
Remember Chuck Liddell's appearance on "Entourage" or more recently "Dancing With The Stars?" People rolled their eyes at both of these appearances, but they helped raise MMA's profile with the elusive "mainstream audience" like nothing else.
People wondered if Heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez was catching on with Latino fans—until an appearance on the "Mario Lopez Show" confirmed his rising star status in the Latino community and paved the way for further growth (ok, all the Mexican flags at UFC 121 were also a pretty good indicator).
And do I even have to mention the phenomenon that is "Bully Beatdown" on MTV? Love it or hate it, that's a show that's bridged the gap to casual fans (for better or worse) and made a star outside of MMA of Jason "Mayhem" Miller.
And it doesn't stop there. Now many new shows—from "Sport Science" to "Deadliest Warrior"—have imported MMA fighters to capitalize on the buzz and hype of the "fastest growing sport in the world".
Now with word that Jon Jones will be appearing on BET, it's clear this trend has no signs of stopping. If MMA wants to continue to make inroads into the mainstream, these TV appearances are absolutely crucial.
So without further ado, here are the top five television appearances MMA stars NEED to make. What fighter could (and should) be making an appearance on a television show near you? Find out.
Call me crazy, but I think this one’s a shoo-in really. It’s too obvious.
If MMA really wants to make a dent in the mainstream, and if Jon Jones wants to get over as champion the way Chuck Liddell once did (or even moreso), then he needs to appear on the staple of daytime talk: The View.
I know, that's a pretty shocking choice to some people. After all, The View isn't exactly where you'd expect to find an MMA fighter. Really, the two worlds couldn't be further apart. The thought of any fighter being able (or even wanting) to appear on The View even a couple years ago would have been seen as laughable.
But that time has passed folks. Chicks dig fighting now, haven’t you heard? MMA is ready for the ladies of The View (and all the ladies watching at home) and Jon "Bones" Jones is the man to lead the charge.
Think about it: the women of The View would go bananas over Jon.
Barbara Walters would dig him because he's intelligent and soft spoken, a humble, kind of quiet guy with a above average vocabulary. I don’t think you’d find any of those things in the dictionary definition of “MMA Stereotype”.
Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg would love him because let's face it, he's a young, handsome black man, masculine and attractive without being aggressive or self-important. Every girl I know who watches MMA loves Jon Jones. Your girl loves Jon Jones. Admit it.
And Elisabeth Hasselbeck would love him because he's a family man, a committed Christian with a wife, kids, and a strong commitment to his faith. Plus they can probably reminisce about shared experiences ratting out pot smokers in high school—the way Jesus intended it.
That's a straight flush as far as I'm concerned. Jones would absolutely charm the pants off of the ladies of The View, not to mention the many more women watching at home. He would shatter the negative stereotypes the "stay at home" crowd has about MMA and win himself a whole new category of fans in the process.
It just makes too much sense. This single appearance could do more to launch Jon's career then all his previous wins. It has to happen.
I thought about putting GSP on "Entourage" to follow in Chuck Liddell's footsteps, but then I thought again. "Entourage" is fun, but it's been done before. It's old news. And let's face it, GSP isn't exactly the strongest actor. His appearance would likely be just a glorified cameo.
Instead, let's put the welterweight king somewhere where he doesn't have to act, where he can be his winning self, and where we can learn something new about MMA's most popular champion.
What, you didn't know GSP has a thing for archeology?
Well it turns out he does, along with an interest in history, science, and the arts. Dude's a modern day Renaissance man in every sense of the word. He even has the exotic accent to make everything he says sound more profound and interesting.
Could you imagine St. Pierre on the Discovery Channel, discussing the finer aspects of the Jurassic period or dissecting the historical significance of the compound bow?
It would be awesome. I can just see Georges commenting on how the coming Ice Age was the "most dangerous op-poh-nent" the dinosaurs ever faced. Or how the Velociraptor was such a dangerous hunter because its prey "didn't know what 'dey was gonna do to dem."
It would be winning, funny, and help to show people that MMA fighters know more then just how to punch someone in the face, get a bad haircut, or wear gaudy T-shirts with flaming skulls on them.
And failing that, it would at least be worth a good laugh or two to see GSP try to "Rush" through a mouthful of technical jargon, while the Discovery Channel regulars laugh nervously and hope he doesn't decide to beat them all up just for the hell of it.
If you're anything like me, you read that above title and thought, as I did when the notion first occurred to me, that "duh, this is too obvious".
The hardest part would be convincing "Big Country" to give up the "Big Gut" he loves so much and join the show. After all, Nelson's girth is his trademark, his calling card. Its arguably the reason he's as popular as he is today.
But if you could twist Roy Nelson's arm (not easy with the BJJ black belt—I‘d go for the tried and true “Back Flab Twist“) into doing the show, it would be a win—for the show, for MMA, and for Roy himself.
Think about it. Roy Nelson at present is a popular Heavyweight, but he's outside the title picture. And as awesome as he is, it's tough to imagine a scenario where he defeats the Cain Velasquez's of the heavyweight division. As a Heavyweight, Nelson would be a popular fighter, but likely no more then a gatekeeper.
But imagine Nelson after a serious course of diet and exercise. Even carrying all that fat, his cardio never suffered—imagine what it would be if he wasn't carrying a small African village around his waist.
Imagine someone with the grappling, power, chin, and dogged will of Roy Nelson, only with a body fat percentage that isn't in the double digits.
What would that leave? I'll tell you what: Roy Nelson, the most dangerous Middleweight in the UFC!
Ok, that's probably not going to happen.
But even if he's not an actual contestant, Roy should still make an appearance on the show. In fact, it would be worth it just to see Nelson sitting in the corner while the cast suffers, chowing down on a Whopper with fries (biggie size) and telling everyone that he's a serious, elite level athlete at the highest level of a sport.
I remember what a big deal it was for The Rock to appear on SNL way back in the day, when I used to watch WWE. It was like for a moment, the "bubble" world of pro wrestling was burst, and for just a short moment the "normal" world was paying attention.
It's a feat I believe MMA could duplicate with equal or even greater success. And who's the man to represent MMA on the most watched comedy show on network television?
Do you even have to ask? He's the same guy who has released two best-selling—and hilarious—self-help books, one of which features him attired in a loin cloth on the cover.
It's the same guy who once got brutally KO'd, and entered to Chumbawamba for his next fight.
It's the same guy who cracks up interview after interview, enters "loser gets a tattoo" bets with his opponents, and once shot "Rampage" Jackson with a net gun.
Forrest Griffin. Forrest freakin' Griffin. Just tell me this guy wouldn't absolutely kill as host of Saturday Night Live.
On his own, Forrest is easily the funniest cat in MMA. But with the full power of SNL's writers and cast behind him? Forget it, Forrest would tear the house down.
Like the other appearances already mentioned, this one would equal a big win for the UFC and MMA. Here is an MMA fighter, cracking jokes, making fun of himself and generally acting like your average, everyday, schmuck.
The skits just write themselves. For instance, you could have Forrest take on Tina Fay's Sarah Palin in a mock debate, with the MMA fighter schooling the former Alaska governor—until Palin unveils her newest running mate, Anderson Silva.
Instead of attacking Griffin as Palin demands, Anderson just dances around, imitates Royce Gracie, and hides behind the debate moderator. Griffin wins the debate, while Palin finds out what it's like to weep on national television following a loss.
Ok, so that's probably too MMA specific, and wouldn't work.
But Forrest Griffin on SNL would work, and it should happen ASAP.
Frankie Edgar has had a little trouble catching on with fans as the post-BJ Penn champion of the Lightweight division. Despite being exciting, well-rounded, and tough as strip loin steak from Denny's, the quiet and unspectacular Edgar just hasn't managed to capture the imaginations of casual fans.
In short, Edgar is in a bit of a situation. And who better to help him out then...well, "The Situation"?
Seriously, I know you absolutely hate "The Jersey Shore". Everybody does—that's why it's only the most watched show in MTV by a country mile.
And wouldn't you know it, a certain MMA fighter just happens to call the Garden State his home. Stop me if I'm making too much sense here.
I know the quiet, soft-spoken Frankie wouldn't be a natural fit for a show like "Jersey Shore". But who cares? The LW champ wouldn't have to do anything but get his face on camera and mention that he's from New Jersey.
The "cast" of the show would do the rest. Have Snooki and the girls fawn over the handsome, polite champion while he smiles awkwardly and tries not to lose IQ points just by proximity.
Have Mike "The Situation" and friends gush over this home-grown New Jersey kick-ass machine while giving each other high-fives and "fist bumps".
Have Frankie roll with them to a club where he is—through the magic of reality TV—the toast of the town, the cock of the walk, the king of freakin' Jersey baby!
You could even have him track down the guy who socked Snooki and have him dole out a little street justice. If Frankie's not down for it, I hear Roger Huerta is free.
And just like that, Frankie Edgar is the man to hordes of MTV regulars the world over. You know, the same people that think Ke$ha is a serious, talented musician and Jason "Mayhem" Miller is the Bully-owning Batman of the MMA world.
If Frankie's not available (or, you know, actually has some self-respect) then team-mate Matt Serra would make a perfect stand in for him on the show.
Sure, he's from New York, not Jersey, but that's just a minor detail really. Tell me Serra wouldn't be perfect for "The Jersey Shore." The stout, bombastic little Italian would need about five minutes to take that whole show over, KO "The Situation" GSP-style, and have Snooki eating spaghetti from the palm of his hand.
What, you've never heard of "The Tito And Jenna Show?"
Well that's probably because it doesn't exist. Not yet, anyways. But man, it really, really should.
I guessing more than half the MMA world already follows the daily drama of the Ortiz/Jameson relationship on Twitter. Their almost bi-weekly "break-ups" are treated as serious, legitimate news items. Tito's gotten more press for his relationship battles than any in-cage accomplishment over the last couple years.
When Tito was arrested for allegedly assaulting Jenna in a domestic dispute—an act that had little to do with MMA itself—the blogosphere almost had a heart attack.
It was the talk of the town. A former champion long removed from his prime, in a squabble with his porn star spouse who was also long past her "prime" so to speak, and we couldn't get enough.
There's just something about them, both as individuals and as a couple, that captivates attention. And that's just in the world of Twitter. Imagine what they could do with an army of reality TV cameramen following them around 24/7.
Gene Simmons can eat his "family jewels" and his heart out. Ozzy Osbourne will be the "Prince of Freakin' Darkness" because no one will be watching. Jon and Kate can take their "plus eight" and form a travelling band for all the world will care.
That's cause the perfect reality TV "family" has arrived. Tito is a master of self-promotion, evidenced by his continuing relevance in today’s MMA landscape (and his corresponding lack of actually winning fights). And Jenna clearly needs no introduction to any post-pubescent male with an internet connection.
For whatever reason, people are fascinated by the two. Be it their extreme personalities, their strange choices of profession, or their constant drama—something is capturing people's attention. And I'm guessing there's a lot more where that came from.
These two need their own reality TV series pronto.