TUF 6 Episode 11 recap: The "Upper Decker"
I fancy myself as someone with a pretty good sense of humor. In fact, I find having one is a good way to cope with big and little stressors that life throws your way.
But, I have to say, I didn't find anything funny about last night's episode of TUF, in which a couple of Team Serra's fools hit the Team Hughes toilet with an "Upper Decker," which is described here. Watching the episode, I was very disappointed that this is how UFC and its fighters are being portrayed to mainstream audiences, just as the TUF fights themselves should be getting better.
Let's be honest about something. TUF is now only partially a proving grounds for up-and-coming MMA fighters trying to make it into the promotion. Based on the need to attract audiences -- and I don't know if this is being driven by UFC or Spike TV -- there are essentially two classes of fighters on TUF nowadays.
One class of cast members -- best represented this season by Mac Danzig and George Sotiropoulos -- actually has a legit chance of making a career in the UFC. The other class -- represented best by Richie Hightower and others -- is really on the show for entertainment purposes.
Many have noticed how inexperienced this season's overall cast is. I'll go one step farther and ask, "Are these really the top 16 welterweight prospects that UFC could find?"
I don't think so.
And, so we have the "Upper Decker." At a critical time for the sport and for the UFC, mainstream audiences see jokers and clowns -- with no real shot at making it -- acting in stereotypical ways, in ways that skeptical audiences may believe all MMA fighters act. Encouraging this behavior, focusing on it, or bringing in fighters who have nothing else to offer only damages the sport.
I'm not a fan of the direction that TUF is headed. I want good fighters and good fights. If there are natural story lines that come out of living in the house for six weeks, so be it. But, what we have now is an attempt at entertainment that quite frankly falls short. As Danzig said, the behavior exhibited in last night's episode was juvenile.
And, by the way, if you weren't repulsed by the antics early in the episode and kept watching, you caught a pretty good quarterfinal fight. Tommy Speer impressed me by surviving two tight submission attempts early in the first round -- an armbar and then a triangle choke -- before using his strength and wrestling advantage to decision Ben Saunders. Saunders was apparently ill going into the fight and put up a noble effort, trying to stay active on the ground from bottom position.
Next week's last episode features Danzig against Matt Arroyo and Sotiropoulos against Speer in the two semifinal matches. Based on the previews of that episode, I'm guessing Speer won't be able to continue because of the cuts on his face.
The great thing about having two fights on one episode is that we probably won't be tortured by the inane activity that expensive market research apparently says we crave ...