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Thoughts on TUF 5 Finale

I watched last night’s live finale of the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter. I thought it was a so-so show.

The production was terrible last night. It seems like they misfired a lot of pre-recorded stuff and played it during times when Mike Goldberg was supposed to speak live. The pacing of the show also sucked, due in large part to how quick the first two matches were. It was great seeing two matches that were taped during the preliminary portion of the show. However, there are just too many commercials. It felt like we were being punished because the first matches ended so quickly and that we got pelted with more commercials than usual. I really wish the UFC would have gotten a deal with HBO because it would have been a way to see cards without paying $39.95 and not having to deal with commercials.

I also wish the UFC would start covering their events like it was a sporting event. Why do we have to see a Shannon Lee interview? I realize Spike wants Bruce Lee Day promoted, but just do a live read or a pre-recorded advertisement. If you’re going to interview someone, why not last words from B.J. Penn or Jens Pulver (as opposed to regurgitated comments from the “Bad Blood” TV special)? I really thought they did a poor job of promoting the main event during the telecast. Or, they could have interviewed Tito Ortiz and or Rashad Evans in order to hype UFC 73 in two weeks.

Another thing they used to do which I miss is that Joe Rogan would interview Dana White in the crowd for a few minutes and Dana would give a quick state of the UFC type speech. Ask him about Pride or Fedor and have him say the same things he’s been saying in interviews. Have we heard it before? Yes, but it still would be a better way to fill time than what they do now. And besides, not everyone has heard of or heard about Fedor.

My comments on the matches and fighters:

Roger Huerta vs. Doug Evans – Evans looked solid and once again I must complement the UFC on the scouting they’ve been doing recently. They aren’t relying on Pride for new talent, they are scouring the world for young fighters. They are getting a lot of good young Brazilian fighters and a lot of strong fighters from the smaller shows in the U.S. A lot of people seem to be turning on Huerta from what I’ve been reading in the forums but I think he’s legit. He didn’t dominate last night but Evans was better than advertised and Huerta took the fight on short notice so who knows if he was even in training.

Thales Leites vs. Felix Sword – I was impressed by what I saw from Leites. As for Sword, not so much. I’d be real interested in seeing Leites fight against better competition.

Joe Lauzon vs. Brandon Melendez – Melendez looked better than I thought and Lauzon looked good, but not great. Lauzon definitely belongs in the UFC but is he championship material? I’m not so sure.

Gray Maynard vs. Rob Emerson – I am glad this match was shown. The ending was too strange not to get immediate coverage on TV. It wasn’t the type of thing we should have had to read about on the Internet and then wait until the DVD came out so we could watch the extras. I really have an issue with the decision. Yes, Maynard was clearly out. However, he never tapped! Emerson is the one who quit. And I realize the referee has the right to stop the fight if someone is unconscious, however, Steve Mazzagatti  (did Bruce Buffer pronounce his name three different ways last night?) didn’t immediately respond to Maynard. As soon as he saw Emerson tap that was it. He stopped the match in response to Emerson’s actions, not Maynard. I don’t like the fact that they made a ruling on the fight after the fact.

Nate Diaz vs. Manny Gamburyan – This match left a sour taste in my mouth but you really can’t be mad at anyone. The fighters can’t be held accountable because they are doing the best they can. The UFC can’t be held accountable because they don’t control what happens during a fight. Gamburyan’s shoulder re-injury was just a freak thing. He’s a tough dude so if he’s tapping from the pain then you know it must have been bad. But while one freak ending during a fight card makes the night more interesting, a second freak ending is one too many. Especially when the winner of the TUF 5 finale is decided as a result of it. Yes, I know Manny will be in the UFC even though he lost but we all invested so much time into the show with the center of attention being which of the 16 contestants would win. To see Diaz win on a technicality when he’s the type of fighter that doesn’t need a technicality to win, sucked. Not to mention, the fight was really good up until the point. Some of you disagreed with me picking Manny over Nate, but Gamburyan clearly won the first round. I know they went by the rules, but I would have loved to see the match declared a no-contest and that the winner of TUF 5 would be decided on a later date. Important outcomes shouldn’t be decided on freak injuries.

B.J. Penn vs. Jens Pulver – I guess I was disappointed because this was nothing like their first match in 2002. Jens fought his ass off and did a great job of getting out of submissions, but as much as I hate to say it, B.J. Penn dominated him last night. Penn landed the harder punches and really controlled the pace on the ground. Penn jumped on Jens and never let up. Penn looked to be the best shape I’ve seen him in for quite some time. You know, he’s fought at 155 lbs. before but he looked emaciated compared to the way he looked last night. Penn cut to 155 lbs. but still had some muscle mass. If he really has re-dedicated himself to conditioning then there is no reason for him to fight another match at 155 lbs. He should go right back to 170 lbs. and fight the top guys at welterweight. If Penn is in top shape, then there’s nobody in the world that can stop him. I’m really excited that Pulver is going down to 145 lbs. I am a huge fan of his and if he wasn’t able to drop, I think retirement might have been his only option. When he returned to the UFC, the WEC wasn’t even a twinkle in Zuffa’s eye so fighting at 145 lbs. for the company wasn’t an option even though it’s his best weight class. It’s kind of funny how things worked out? Oh, my biggest issue of the night was the fact that B.J. pulled that crappy stunt and told us all to go to his web site if we wanted to know what he thought. Total BS. The UFC pays him a lot of money to fight in big matches. After such a buildup, the UFC has a right to his post-fight comments. If I was Dana White, I would fine his ass for refusing an interview request from a Zuffa employee. I know nobody says anything in those interviews anyway, but Jens’ comments were interesting and I wanted to hear B.J.’s side of things and not a marketing ploy! And yes, like a sucker I went to his site to see if he said anything noteworthy, but the damn thing had crashed!

15 COMMENTS
  • says:

    Maynard was clearly out… so was Hughes when he fought Newton but they still gave him the win.

    Penn is one of the most talented fighters on the planet but I just can’t bring myself to root for someone that narcissistic.

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  • says:

    I dont’t know for sure, but, if you read his shirt last night it made a strong political statement in regards to Hawaiian seperation from the union. I think someone from the UFC may have told him to stay away from that particular subject and, as a result ticked off BJ Penn. That may be the reason he stormed off.

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  • says:

    bjpenn.com still down 12+ hours later. what’s up with that?

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  • says:

    Good thoughts Sam, and I tend to agree with you on most of them. After a great UFN the other week, UFC 72 and the TUF Finale kind of fell short. But of course not every show can be great, this finale was just kind of weird. Can’t wait for UFC 73 though, don’t know if that card can live up to the hype it’s getting but should be fun to watch and find out.

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  • says:

    I thought all of the fights were terrific. The only downside was that I lost one hundred bucks on Manny. The Maynard/Emerson fight was my favorite, but the judges should not have taken Maynard’s victory money away. That was just wrong.

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  • says:

    Sam, I’d like to know more about your distaste for BJ Penn. I’ve been rooting for him since he took the title from Matt Hughes. He’s an underdog and the cream of the crop at the same time. It’s great that his talent overpowers the most muscular dude, the most disciplined boxers, and no one can touch his BJJ. Anyhow, I wish he wasn’t so temperamental (like my other fave, Cro Cop), but the rewards of watching him come with risks.

    About the TUF finale… If one thing is clear, Gray and Manny are the ones to watch coming out of this season. Neither won, but they both dominated their fights and it will be a treat to see them take on pro competition. Why didn’t Rogan tell Gray this in the middle of his tantrum? Hey, you’ve just made hundreds of thousands of fans. The only thing you gotta do different is to point your shoulder (which is buried in the guy’s gut) and not your head at the ground when you slam a dude.

    Huerta looked unprepared. Nonetheless, he looked like a real pro throughout. His composure and his technique is so tight, there are a million reasons why the UFC should keep him out front in their effort to go mainstream. Kudos to Huerta for continuing to champion his Mexican heritage and big thanks to Bubba for recognizing BJ’s Hawaiian political statement. Even Nate Diaze spoke a little truth to power when he had the limelight. Rock on principled fighters (and a–hole brutes as well, for that matter).

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  • says:

    PURE TECHNIQUE….JENS PULVER STRAIGHT UP GOT TOOLED. THERE WERE SO MANY TIMES WHERE JENS EXPOSED HIS NECK AND PENN HAD THE CHANCE TO SINK IN THE REAR NAKED…BUT NO…BJ PENN WANTED TO PROVE A STATEMENT AND DID BY GIVING JENS THE POUNDING HERE DESERVES. BJ PENN IS ALL HEART……COMPOSURE…NO BS

    BJ PENN BEST POUND FOR POUND FIGHTER IN THE GAME

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  • says:

    [...] Caplan: Thoughts on TUF 5 finale (he thought the show production was [...]

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  • says:

    jaydog, I believe Huerta took the fight on like 2 weeks notice, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t exactly prepared. Besides the fact he probably didn’t know a whole lot about a guy who spent his entire fight career in Alaska so far. But either way he did what he needed to do to win.

    I agree with you on the Manny and Gray thoughts as well, they probably impressed me the most with their performances throughout the show. I am a big Nate Diaz and Nick Diaz fan. I don’t know if Nate will end up being that great a fighter but he’s tough as nail and will put on a good fight regardless. I just wish that Nick was still in the UFC.

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  • says:

    The number and length of commercials on these Spike televised events really gets annoying. I think I’d rather pay for the event that put up with the endless commercials.

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  • says:

    Sam Caplan is great. I like your blog, Sam! BUT…….I think the complaints about the production are a bit much. Who cares? What I do is have my friends over for the telecasts. During a break in the action, people talk; we stock up on more food and beer; people go use the can–whatever. Things like the Shannon Lee interview are great “down times” to review the previous action with friends. All anyone should care about are the FIGHTS. For the most part, the fights were great. I’ll agree that Penn/Pulver 2 was a bit of a letdown.

    The music, the interviews, the commercials……..who cares? It’s gonna be impossible to produce those things to everyone’s liking. Use those times to refresh yourself and get ready for the next fight.

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  • says:

    Your comments on the what should have been the outcome on Manny vs Nate were really off the wall. Why should Nate be penalized for Manny’s injury? Did you ever think that maybe Manny’s injury came from the chess match Nate gave him in the first round? It was just a domino waiting to be pushed by the 2nd round. The fight wasn’t a battle but Nate won easily. That injury never would have happened if Nate wasn’t a handful in the 1st. Props to Nate. He deserves to be winner. If you face your opponent in a real life situation and your opponents shoulder dislocates and can’t continue, guess who wins?
    Don’t take this away from Nate just because the fighter you wanted to win lost. S*it happens :)

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  • says:

    The TUF 5 finals were kinda ironic for me. Nate’s temper tantrums, bullying, and bad-boy posturing were ridiculous all season long. Clearly, he is covering up for his own insecurities. In the Finale, Nate was lucky that Manny got injured just like he was lucky that a tired Gray tapped to a choke in under three seconds in the semis. Both guys where dominating him. If he meets either again, he’ll probalby get his face pounded to a pulp. Although I love Nate’s jiu-jitsu, Gray and Manny would have been a more satisfying final. Of course, they probably both injure themselves. Ha.

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  • says:

    “Both guys where dominating him.”

    When you see Nate’s previous fights you’ll realize your error – his fights always start that way an end with his opponent submitted – you could tell Manvel was using all his energy to keep from being submitted through the first round – I think he would have been subbed in the second – if he stays in the UFC, I’m sure they’ll rematch.

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  • says:

    “Sam, I’d like to know more about your distaste for BJ Penn.”

    Jay, I have mixed feelings about Penn. I love watching him fight and I think the guy has flawless technique. All those boxing writers who use the lame “sweet science” (look at Ricky Hatton from this past Saturday against Jose Luis Castillo. Where was the sweet science in that fight? Hatton has the same brawling mentality that a lot of mixed martial artists have, according to boxing writers and commentators. Personally, I like Hatton’s style but I love how boxing purists act like there are no brawlers in boxing) have never seen Penn fight.

    Here are my two issues with him:

    1) His attitude. Penn can be really condescending at times towards fans and the media. What happened Saturday after his fight was a perfect example. I understand he’s a laid back dude that doesn’t like a lot of stress in his life, but he could try to be a little more professional.

    2) His lack of conditioning. As I said earlier, I am a Penn fan in certain ways. His talent is off the charts. But he should be even better than he already is. We shouldn’t be talking about him as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world because he has the ability of being the best in the world. B.J. Penn is better than Matt Hughes and George St. Pierre. Penn should be the 170 lbs. champ right now. Now, if Penn conditions himself the same way he did for the fight against Pulver, he’s going to go back into the 170 lbs. division and will win the welterweight title within the next 12 months. Bottom line, as great as he is, I still think he’s an underachiever.

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