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!