The UFC is really doing the hard sell with The Ultimate Fighter 16 after the last season of the U.S.-based show failed to meet lofty expectations with a live time slot on a new network. As such, instead of correcting any of the myriad problems facing the long-running show (stale format, same old drama between fighters), the UFC has instead decided to just play up the coaches’ feud yet again.
Shane Carwin has not been careful with his words about opposing coach Roy Nelson, saying “I hate him. I dislike him. I hate him as a person. That’s just it.” Not the most quotable guy, that Carwin fella, but he gets to the point.
Why does Carwin hate him? Well, above other things, Carwin considers him a blue collar imposter:
“Well, that’s me. That’s where I came from. I was the one working at 15 years old and working concrete in construction, working at meat packing plants, throwing boxes and things like that. He hasn’t had a job in his life. This is the only thing he has ever done. He’s the farthest thing from a blue-collar worker that he claims to be.”
Wow. Compelling stuff. It’s almost as good as the time when Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz’s most heated argument all season was about whether Faber’s parents bought his gym for him (I noted the forced nature of the verbal scuffle in the section of my follow-up entitled “Cruz-Faber Feud Lacks Fire“. I mean, “he pretends to be a blue collar worker, but HE’S NOT, MAN”? Them’s fightin’ words!
Okay, so what else do they have to get us to watch a few episodes, then? How about a season’s worth of Nelson annoying Dana White? After telling Yahoo! Sports that everything Nelson says is “asinine”, he breaks down his issues with Nelson in the following anecdote:
“He focuses on all the wrong things. You know what I consider him? The ultimate underachiever. Come into my office and bitch, ‘I want more sponsors.’ Well, you got a mullet down to the middle of your back. You got a Santa Claus beard, and what pops out from underneath the beard is this huge, massive roll. What company wants to throw their logo on that?”
“I’m worried that at the end of the season people are going to want to see me fight Roy Nelson instead of Shane Carwin,” White says.
White should be worried about whether the fans will want to watch at all.
While the sport has attracted better and better athletes, and the huge number of gyms around the world have led to a larger quantity of fairly-polished fighters, the newer crops of TUF casts haven’t had the types of ready-for-primetime fighters that we saw in early incarnations of the show. Also, the “house drama” that Spike TV played up for years in order to attract ratings have gotten stale and won’t work as well for FX. Seriously, how many times can you watch someone mess with somebody else’s food, hide their stuff, or get drunk and have a shirtless argument before it all gets a little old?
White Not Done with Greg Jackson Rants
In case you forgot in the last few weeks, Greg Jackson is apparently ruining the sport. In his latest rant on the many ways that Jackson has been the bane of his existence, White told MMA Fighting that Jackson’s talk of his camp being a “family” is misleading.
“He plays the whole thing…’We won’t fight each other because we’re family’. The only reason we even know who Greg Jackson is cause of fucking Diego Sanchez,” White said. “Diego Sanchez came out of his camp because of GSP. GSP wanted to come train at Jackson’s camp and Diego was like ‘fuck that shit. This is my house, man. I’m going to have to fight this guy one day.’ What did Greg Jackson do? GSP is down there, isn’t he? You know why? Because [Jackson] believed GSP would fucking beat Diego Sanchez. He made a business decision. I will take him over him. What happened to fucking family?”
White went on to say, “Who could be more family to you than fucking Diego Sanchez, the kid’s been with you since he was fucking 14 years old. What happened to family, Greg, you fucking family guy you? Then you got Rashad Evans. Rashad Evans was with him the second-longest other than Diego Sanchez. ‘That’s his brother, we’re brothers. He’s my family. He’s this, that and everything else.’ Jon Jones wanted to come train there and comes in and everything is cool. Who the fuck did Greg Jackson pick? He picked the guy who he thought would beat Rashad Evans, no matter how fucking long Rashad Evans had been with him.”
Other than the nine f-bombs, what you notice about White’s rant is that he actually has a point. If it’s all about family and loyalty, why is there a history of Jackson’s longest-tenured fighters feeling left behind due to quickly-rising fighters within their own weight class being in the gym?
In Jackson’s defense, both Sanchez and Evans decided to leave on their own accord, and Jackson never said that he wanted them to fight Georges St. Pierre or Jones, respectively. Should Jackson only have one high-profile fighter per weight class? Should he have told Jones it wasn’t right to involve himself in the title picture with Evans in light for a shot at the belt? That’s all up for debate, but White is right that the “family” aspect of Jackson’s camp doesn’t ring so true now that two long-standing members of that family have felt disrespected and overlooked now.
Bellator’s Contracts Come Under Fire
Bellator Fighting Championships, whose heavyweight champion, Cole Konrad, just abruptly retired from the sport, has been under criticism from many about the way its contracts are enforced.
Bellator’s contracts have long been known for being restrictive, as they stay in place as long as a fighter is on a winning streak and allow the company to match any offer a fighter gets after his or her contract ends, as well.
Recently, it’s come to light that apparently that right to match an offer remains even if a fighter has been released by the organization. Case in point: Roger Hollett was supposed to fight at UFC 152 against Matt Hamill, but was pulled from the card because of contract issues with Bellator. According to Hollett’s manager, Bellator would have claimed breach of contract if Hollett took the fight, saying they had the right to match the UFC’s offer.
When the UFC pulled Hollett from the card and announced that Vladimir Matyushenko would take his place, Bellator was suddenly uninterested in matching the offer for Hollett’s services. Fortunately for Hollett, an injury to Matyushenko gave him a place back on the card, but why did it have to come to that? Why the gamesmanship if you are obviously not interested in having the guy fight in your organization?
I get that the UFC and Bellator are in competition with one another, but when the fighters who make the sport what it is become unwitting pawns, it has gone too far. Having fighters sit on the shelf because they are involved in a pissing contest between a few millionaires seems like the wrong way to go about things.
Another even better example of this type of thing is Tyson Nam, who just made headlines for knocking out Eduardo Dantas, the Bellator Bantamweight Champion, in Brazil. After the fight, Nam correctly wanted to capitalize on the momentum to sign with a big promotion. “Nah-uh!” said Bellator, saying that they had the rights to Nam’s services, instead.
See, Bellator had signed Nam to a deal some time ago, and twice pulled him from fights he was scheduled for. However, even though he sat on the shelf and was never used by the promotion, they decided that now that he had knocked out their champion, they’d like to put him in a tournament.
There’s a difference between “legal” and “ethical”, my friends. I’m a big fan of the way Bjorn Rebney and company do business in terms of the product they bring to the fans. I’ve heard that the fighters who actually compete for them are quite happy with how they’re treated. However, when they use their leverage to keep fighters (who have a very limited time in which they can make serious money in a very dangerous business) from capitalizing on the opportunities that their hard work has earned them, that’s wrong.
Hendo-Machida for a LHW Title Shot?
-Dave Meltzer reports that Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida will have to face off to establish the next number one contender for Jon Jones’ title after Hendo is healthy enough to compete again. In the meantime, of course, Jones will face Vitor Belfort later this month at UFC 152.
Given that Henderson won’t be ready to fight again until this winter, the UFC could have just allowed him to keep his spot as the number one contender and immediately given us the Jones-Hendo matchup we were already promised (unless Belfort pulls off an amazing upset, of course). The fact that they’ve instead decided to do this shows me that they’re not particularly happy with Hendo (who waited three weeks to tell the UFC he wasn’t healthy after hurting his knee) or Machida (who turned down the chance to fight Jones at UFC 152). This also keeps Jones on the shelf until well into 2013, as he’ll have to wait for the winner of this fight to be established before his next defense, which I’m sure was part of the appeal, as well.
Still, you have to wonder if the UFC is being short-sighted here. Nobody particularly wants to see Jones-Machida again already, and Jones is a good draw for the company. Why pass up Jones-Hendo this winter for Hendo-Machida, which will not generate as much interest, followed by the possibility of Jones fighting Machida (which, again, will not generate as much interest)? While they punish the three fighters who had a hand in some of the company’s woes lately, they also punish themselves by not booking the most anticipated possible fight among the three men.
Tags: Bellator, Bjorn Rebney, Cole Konrad, Dan Henderson, Dana White, Diego Sanchez, Greg Jackson, Jon Jones, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Roy Nelson, Shane Carwin, The Ultimate Fighter, The Ultimate FIghter 16, UFC, UFC 152, Vitor Belfort