You'd think the dramatic change in format would be the biggest talking point leading into FX's first season of the seminal MMA reality show The Ultimate Fighter. After all, for the first time ever, the show will be filmed and the fights disseminated live instead of weeks later on tape delay.
There will be less time for the producers to come up with manufactured drama and storylines. Instead, we should expect a much rawer, real-time product. It's a huge shift, but one being overshadowed by another shocking announcement. The UFC will finally feature homosexuality as more than just subtext.
Contestant Dakota Cochrane says he isn't gay. Desperate for cash, he did however star in gay pornography. Will this be a topic of conversation in the fighter house? Will he be taunted and perhaps ridiculed? Yes. Does MMA have a track record of handling homosexuality in a nuanced and intelligent way? No.
I don't know if I have 15 homophobes here or 15 guys who could care less about it. I have no idea. No one has been talked to on the show. 'We have a very sensitive issue.' None of that has happened. We don't do that [expletive]. Whatever happens in that house happens, and then I'm going to have to deal with it. If there's some crazy [expletive] going on, you know how it works with me. I'm going to be fair and do the right thing. But if stuff crosses the line and bad things happen, I guess I'm going to be going over there a lot.
In past seasons, things have escalated out of control. Think Chris Leben going on a rampage after being called a "fatherless bastard." Think semen-covered food. Think the amazing confrontation between Nate Diaz and Karo Parisyan.
And none of those situations had the added flame bait of a past in gay porn. Am I a bad person for having popcorn ready and eyeballs prepared to be glued to the screen? Business, as they say, is about to pick up on The Ultimate Fighter.