The Pit Report: UFC Creeps Into the Mainstream

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has been creeping its way into the mainstream, thanks in huge part to Spike TV. “The Ultimate Fighter 2” has been pulling down decent ratings, pay-per-view buyrates are up, and a new edition of “Ultimate Fight Night” is scheduled for Monday, October 3rd; just four days before “UFC 55: Fury” on pay-per-view.

TUF 2
“The Ultimate Fighter 2,” while not the ratings powerhouse Spike TV hoped for, is doing well considering the market. Mixed Martial Arts isn’t as big in America as it is in Japan or Korea, and the reality show aspect has turned some viewers off to the show entirely. Much like season one, the fighters of TUF 2 are a bunch of drama queens, with a few exceptions. Guys like Joe Stevenson and Jorge Gurgel have a tendency to come off like housemates on “The Real World,” while Keith Jardine and Dan Christison keep to themselves, quietly waiting to get in the Octagon. I really like the idea of this show, but the whole reality format needs a giant enema.

If you haven’t seen the show yet, I’ll give you the basic formula. There are two teams: Green team, coached by UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin, and Blue team, coached by UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes. There are two weight classes represented: Heavyweight and Welterweight. Each week the teams train their asses off, act like morons around the house, and then compete in silly events. The events, as silly as they are, are used as a setup for the next fight in the Octagon. The winning team selects a fighter from their team, and then picks their opponent from the opposite team. At the end of the show, the two fighters square off, and the loser goes home.

The show started off with ten fighters in each weight class. Since week one, seven fighters have been eliminated (two quit, two were injured, three were defeated in the Ocatgon). I’m holding off on making any predictions until I see more of these guys fight, but it’s shaping up to be another good season, in spite of the predictable drama.


Rich Franklin, Pet Detective

UFC vs. WWE
It’s being called the ‘New Monday Night War’ by many. On Monday, October 3rd, WWE’s “Monday Night Raw” will return to the USA Network, after spending the last five years on Spike TV. In an effort to capitalize on WWE’s vacant timeslot, Spike TV will be airing a new edition of UFC “Ultimate Fight Night Live!” on the same night.

Spike TV is planning a full night of UFC action, kicking off at 8pm (EST). At 8 it’s a new edition of “UFC Unleashed,” at 9 it’s “UFC’s Ultimate Fight Night Live!,” and at 11 it’s a new episode of “The Ultimate Fighter 2.” Some fights rumored for the “Ultimate Fight Night Live!” card are Stephan Bonnar vs. James Irvin, Josh Koscheck vs. Drew Fickett, and Chris Leben vs. Edwin Dewees. None of these matches are confirmed as of yet.

USA Network’s “WWE Monday Night Raw” will kick off at 7:55pm (EST), getting a five minute head start on Spike. It looks like the WWE is pulling out the big guns for their homecoming event. Look for appearances by Hulk Hogan, Triple H, Mick Foley, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon, as well as all of your favorite “Raw” superstars.

Both shows will be facing ABC’s “Monday Night Football” (Green Bay at Carolina), so the ratings should be interesting. I’m just very thankful, as a fan of both pro-wresting and MMA, that I have a DVR that records two channels simultaneously.

UFC 55: FURY
UFC is being fairly tight-lipped about the card for UFC 55, which airs exclusively on pay-per-view on Friday, October 7th. Heavyweight Champion Andrei ‘The Pitbull’ Arlovski will face off against Paul ‘The Headhunter’ Buentello in the main event, and Forrest Griffin, Light Heavyweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 finale, will fight Elvis Sinosic. Griffin was originally supposed to face Ian Freeman, but Freeman was recently was forced to retire from MMA after an injury he sustained after falling from a horse.

Unconfirmed fights for UFC 55 are as follows:

  • Evan Tanner vs. David the Loiseau
  • Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral vs. Chael Sonnen
  • Pete Sell vs. Joe Riggs
  • Marcio ‘Pe De Pano’ Cruz vs. Keigo Kunihara.

Allessio ‘The Italian Legionary’ Sakara is now left without an opponent due to Sinosic now fighting Griffin. A new opponent is expected to be announced soon.

FUCKIN’ DRAMA
Evan Tanner was interviewed after “UFC 54: Boiling Point,” and has some less-than-kind words for former Heavyweight Champion Tim ‘The Maine-iac’ Sylvia. “The part that almost made me ashamed to be a part of MMA was when the opponents of the two fighters that got knocked out ran around the ring joyously celebrating the victory. They then went straight to their post-fight interviews in which they continued to congratulate themselves, showing no concern and no respect for their opponents. Then they unconcernedly left the ring all while the opponent was still down. Not once did either guy step over to see if his fallen opponent was okay. It showed a total lack of heart or compassion and all else that the truest warriors are made of. They lost a great deal of my respect.”

Tim Sylvia responded: “Tanner must have been drunk like he is at every UFC when he’s not fighting. He’s one loss away from going into rehab obviously.” Thanks to InsideFighting.com for giving me a good laugh. You gotta love Sylvia.

MISC. DEBRIS
I would like to express my deepest sympathies to those fellow fans who have been affected by the Yankees playing like absolute shit this season. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

I’d also like to say thank you to Scott “More Hits Than The Beatles” Stevens and Mark Messier. The rivalry between the Devils and Rangers during the 1994 run for the Cup made me a diehard hockey fan for life. I had always loved the sport, but it was that season that got me hooked like Courtney Love at a Ribs n’ Smack buffet. The NHL will never be the same for me without these two legends.

One final random note: You rule, Summer.

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