If we're being honest with ourselves, one of the most endearing aspects of mixed martial arts is the pure, unadulterated randomness of everything. For all we talk about rules and regulations, at its core, MMA is still a cage fight, and who really knows what's going to happen once those cage doors shut? It's part of the reason silly match-making like Silva-Bonnar is so intriguing, because we can inevitably look back to GSP-Serra and say things like, 'See, look. Anything can happen.' And it's also part of the reason weekends like this past one are so damn fun.
It wasn't just the UFC card. That was just the beginning. Literally, we had a little taste of everything that makes this sport so unique. A heavily-hyped WWE superstar with a freakish physique strapping on a pair of gloves? Check. Dana White ripping into the media for perceived slights that didn't actually exist? Check. Pat Barry publicly embarrassing some unlucky drunken fan? Yep, check. An injury crashing and burning another championship fight? Unfortunately, check. Soccer kick knockouts and Shinya Aoki twisting an over-matched opponent into a pretzel? Check and check. A pair of fights ending via nausea-inducing groin strikes, including the perfect capper to the most bizarre trilogy in history? Huge check. The women outshining everyone else regardless? Check, check, check.
It's rare you can come out of the weekend and say the UFC feels like an afterthought, but with everything that just took place, this past weekend kind of feels like that. So instead of just sitting around wasting daylight here, let's jump in and take a look.
7 MUST-READ STORIES
Silva victorious, Browne injured. Former Strikeforce contender Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva viciously knocked out the previously undefeated Travis Browne to earn his elusive first UFC victory in the main event of UFC on FX 5. (VIDEO.) Unfortunately, Browne also injured his hamstring midway through the fight.
Rockhold out. Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold withdrew from a scheduled November 3rd title defense against Lorenz Larkin due to a wrist injury suffered in training.
Henderson defends Jones. UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson scolded critics for the way Jon Jones was thrown under the bus in the wake of UFC 151's cancellation, stating, "To place everything on his shoulders, I think, was very unfair. He's fully within his rights to turn down a fight."
Dodson earns title shot. TUF 14 winner John Dodson knocked out Jussier Formiga in the second round of their UFC on FX 5 main card bout. With the win, Dodson earned the first shot at Demetrious Johnson's flyweight belt.
Stephens arrested, fight cancelled. UFC on FX 5 competitor Jeremy Stephens was arrested prior to Friday's event on two assault charges stemming from a 2011 incident in Des Moines, Iowa. UFC President Dana White suggested several times throughout the night that Stephens' bout against Yves Edwards would continue as planned, however it ultimately fell through after a day-long struggle with Minneapolis police left Stephens behind bars.
Hallman reveals struggles. Following an odd 12-hour stretch that saw Dennis Hallman miss weight, be paid his event purse, and fly home with a UFC pink slip, Hallman revealed that he suffered a complete nervous breakdown due to a contentious custody dispute with his wife, whom he alleges is battling drug addiction.
"Bigfoot" Silva vs. Stefan Struve next, anyone?
Safe to say, Jens Pulver didn't enjoy himself this weekend.
In retrospect, the whole Jeremy Stephens situation was utterly bizarre and Dana White's initial bluster -- calling out invisible media outlets after the FUEL TV prelims -- only made it a much larger story than it should've been. Honestly, the person who handled it best was the one who was victimized the most, Yves Edwards, who remained a class act in the face of immense disappointment.
I'll let him tell the story, but let's just say Pat Barry was busy on Friday night.
Yes, former WWE star Dave Bautista just made his MMA debut against a middling, over-matched opponent. And yes, it probably wasn't the most impressive debut you'll ever see.
THE SADDEST PHOTO IN THE WORLD
Hell yea! @bigfootsilva my favorite giant!!— Mike Brown (@mikebrownmma) October 6, 2012
Man that sucks, It looked like Travis Browne hurt his knee or something. Anyways big shot from Big Foot, Congrats— Cub Swanson (@CubSwanson) October 6, 2012
"FEE-FI-FO-FUM"- @bigfootsilva— Joe Duarte (@JoeDuarteMMA) October 6, 2012
Damn I so happy that my friend @bigfootsilva won that fight!!!!— Rousimar Palhares (@ToquinhoMMA) October 6, 2012
YOU'LL SEE EACH OTHER SOON ENOUGH, GENTLEMEN
Well I know @unclecreepymma is pissed but secretly I know he wanted me to win.— John Dodson III (@JohnDodsonMMA) October 6, 2012
Things are getting interesting. Can't wait to punch face and get my name back in contention again— Ian McCall (@Unclecreepymma) October 6, 2012
THE HERO MINNEAPOLIS NEEDED
LMAOOO I was like WTF is the crowd cheering at? But than I go to twitter and I see that Pat Barry went HAM on a fan! @hypeordie— Frank Williams (@FrankWilliams7) October 6, 2012
@hypeordie you were my favorite UFC fighter until last night... Now you are my favorite human. "PAT SAY PUSSY AGAIN BERRY"— Matt (@xPlanetExpress) October 6, 2012
SO THE GUY CALLING FIGHTERS PUSSIES PUT HIS HAT ON LOW AND SAT DOWN AND DIDNT RESPOND WHEN I ASKED HIM TO SAY IT AGAIN moby.to/5nrdhi— Pat Barry (@HypeOrDie) October 6, 2012
HEADS UP IF U DIDNT KNOW:U PEOPLE THAT BOOO AT FIGHTS, WE CALL U "ROACHES"CAUSE U OUTNUMBER US, ARE SMALL AND WEAK, AND WON'T GO AWAY!!!— Pat Barry (@HypeOrDie) October 6, 2012
VICTORY ON THE WINGS OF NUTSHOTS
Sooooo good to be limping back on u.s.soil! Where's the nearest ice machine?— Jens Pulver (@Jens_Pulver) October 7, 2012
OKAY, THAT'S RIDICULOUS
Announced over the weekend (Friday, October 5, 2012 - Sunday, October 7, 2012):
- Strikeforce: Luke Rockhold (10-1) out with injury opposite Lorenz Larkin (13-0, 1 NC)
- UFC 153: Gabriel Gonzaga (13-6) off card without an opponent
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day sees Steve Borchardt offer: Three ideas to fix The Ultimate Fighter
It has been oft repeated that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. This may be true when it comes to body building or attempts to quit smoking, but in the case of the UFC's The Ultimate Fighter franchise I would favor an inversion of this well-worn trope: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results every time. This is just what the UFC have been doing with TUF for a number of years now and the resultant diminishing returns are getting harder to ignore with each passing episode.
If UFC officials weren't hitting the panic button after the premiere of season 16 of TUF came in as the lowest rated debut in series history at 947,000 viewers, they certainly must have been after last Friday's episode came in at a paltry 775,000. Not to put too fine a point on it but that's a very, very bad number.
What makes the rating even scarier is that the third episode of TUF season 12 drew 1.8 million viewers on September 29th, 2010. That's a 43% drop in viewership over a two year period. Even if Dana White downplays these abysmal numbers publicly and points to their relative strength in the key males 18-35 demographic, he and other UFC officials have to be nervous. Last Friday's rating may be a portent of even worse numbers to come as the lackluster season progresses.
The manifold reasons for this precipitous drop in viewership over the past couple years have been well covered - from the less than ideal Friday night time slot FX has saddled the UFC with to a lack of quality fighters - but perhaps no criticism of TUF rings truer and more succinctly sums up why fans have abandoned the show like rats fleeing a sinking ship than this: we've seen it all before.
By now any MMA fan with two brain cells to rub together knows what he or she is getting with a season of TUF: a premiere featuring 32 mostly unknown fighters competing in a series of rapid fire fights, an obligatory pep talk/browbeating from White, the "dramatic" team picking scene, fighters going stir crazy within the house, puerile and uninspired pranks, alcohol fueled confrontations, a coaches' challenge only slightly more contrived than the confrontations staged to sell the coaches' fight at the end of the season, and every week a single fight held in an empty gym with only the sounds of each fighter's respective corner barking instruction to serve as commentary. Season after season, that's it. Watching TUF is like Groundhog Day, only far less entertaining.
So what can be done to right this sinking ship? It may sound pessimistic, but I'm inclined to believe the only honest answer here is, "nothing." At this point TUF is like a barely seaworthy boat with a ramshakle motor dependent on an improvised arrangement of paper clips and with nothing but duct tape and gum wrappers patching innumerable holes in the deck. No amount of retooling is going to address the fundamental structural deficiencies at play here. After sixteen seasons the concept of watching unknown fighters vie for a million dollar contract and a cut glass trophy has worn thinner than Joe Rogan's hair.
That's not to say there aren't some repairs that could at least make the show tolerable again for a few seasons. Here are a few ideas to help breathe new life into a very tired concept.
Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.