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MMA Survivor: Fight Island

Find out which 20 MMA fighters ended up on “Fight Island” in this parody of the hit TV show.

On May 31, 2000, the television show Survivor premiered on CBS. A derivation of the Swedish reality show Expedition Robinson, the premise of the show was simple: Take 16 to 20 people from different walks of life, strand them on an island with minimal resources for 39 days, and have them play a game of social politics for the grand prize of $1 million. The show immediately became a hit and remains one to this day for a very simple reason: It’s the most compelling show on television.

Twenty castaways – hand-picked by producers to create the perfect blend of volatility, cunning, and charisma – suffer starvation and exhaustion. Then they’re tasked with navigating a complex tightrope of betrayal and strategy within a group of people they’re forced to spend every waking second with. If this all sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the formula appropriated by the UFC for its own reality television show, The Ultimate Fighter. But instead of living in a mansion in Las Vegas, Survivors live on a deserted island in a tropical location.

That brings us to our point: The UFC said it will soon to have its own “Fight Island,” where Dana White intends to hold combat sports events a la Enter the Dragon or Mortal Kombat. But what if instead they just held an objectively better show, “MMA Survivor.” It would be like TUF, only instead of mundane training and the occasionally good fight, it would feature 20 fighters and retired fighters having to use their wits and people skills while essentially being in a state of perpetual weight-cutting. It would be, in a word, perfection.

So let’s play out this game of fantasy “MMA Survivor” and crown the inaugural champion. But first, let’s clarify some basic rules.

  • We select 20 fighters, 10 men and 10 women, to serve as our inaugural cast. They can be active or retired, and they can compete in any organization. The one rule in their selection is they have to be the type of person that would hypothetically actually do this. So Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Jon Jones, and Brock Lesnar are out – they’re too famous to rough it for $1 million.
  • The show operates under the basic principles of Survivor. That is, Survivors are split into two teams who compete for immunity, and every three days one team votes off a member. Once they get to 10 remaining castaways, the two tribes merge into one, and the same process repeats on an individual basis until there are three remaining Survivors. Then the seven post-merge castaways who were voted out select the overall champion for the show.
  • There will be no reward challenges. There are no rewards on “Fight Island.” You keep what you kill and not a cent more.
  • Tribe swaps and hidden immunity idols are in play, but all the various other twists are not. So no Extinction Island, no Exile Island, no Steal a Vote, none of that.
  • Jeff Probst, likely the most incisive and even-tempered television host in the world, is replaced by Dana White. (This one has the potential to be disastrous. Remember when Brandon Hantz lost his f*cking mind and started talking like a cult leader ready to be “the author of his own fate” and Probst literally gave him a shoulder massage to prevent him from attempting to murder Phillip Sheppard? Just think about Dana in that situation. Survivor probably would’ve been cancelled on the spot. Probst is a G.)
  • Contestants are competing not just for the $1 million prize but also for a title shot in any weight class he or she chooses.

Now, with that out of the way, I have already selected the twenty castaways and randomly separated them into two tribes of five men and five women each, so let’s meet our 20 Survivors.

Team Battlecade

Team YAMMA Pit Fighting

Episode 1: “Do You Want To Be A F*cking Survivor?”

The two tribes hit the beach, and it’s immediately apparent that some people are not happy with their teammates. Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko are noticeably on edge, and Miesha Tate looks rather displeased to have Colby Covington standing next to her. Meanwhile Covington is already in his element shouting that he’s gonna whoop up on “George ‘Lamebred’ Masvidal” and the rest of the “Wah-Wah Tribe.”

White kicks things off instantly with a classic challenge: By Any Means Necessary, a game where pairs of teammates fight to retrieve a ring in the water and bring it back to their post. Winner gets flint, rice, and immunity – the losers kick someone off. Battlecade is already considering throwing the challenge to get rid of the “Chaos” in their soon-to-be camp. They don’t, though, and they go on to win the challenge led by a dominant showing from Covington and Shevchenko over Cruz and Macfarlane. Fifteen minutes in, and YAMMA is already at a disadvantage.

At Battlecade beach, the tribe is in good spirits following their win, and under the fatherly oversight of MMA’s Captain America, a camp comes together. It seems even Colby Covington must yield to Randy Couture’s presence. But an undercurrent presents itself as Tate and Herrig lay the groundwork for a women’s alliance.

Over at YAMMA beach, consolations are shared, and a ramshackle shelter is built while Dominick Cruz attempts to cobble together an alliance with Hill, Harrison, Macfarlane, and Smith. On the other side of things, Masvidal has paired up with Liddell and Cerrone, Till is freewheeling, and Evinger is also doing her own thing. Momentum seems to be heading toward an early exit for Liddell, but there’s an undercurrent in favor of keeping the team strong for challenges.

At Tribal Council, White gives an impassioned speech, calling everyone there “a bunch of goofs” and adding they need to toughen up if they want to have a chance at beating Battlecade. White’s words sink in, and in the end, Leslie Smith is deemed the biggest liability. She’s voted out with a 7-3 tally, with only Macfarlane and Hill voting for Liddell alongside Smith.

Episode 2: Bye, Tonya

When YAMMA returns to camp, they air their dirty laundry and make the determination to band together for the next challenge. Unfortunately, nothing changes about the game play. This time, immunity is contested with a traditional obstacle course including a puzzle finisher, and once again, Battlecade prevails, leading Covington into taunting his defeated foes. A fight breaks out between he and Masvidal.

Back at YAMMA camp, a core alliance of Cruz, Liddell, Harrison, Hill, and Cerrone begins to form, and with Smith gone, they target Evinger for another easy vote. At Tribal, White says YAMMA must not “want it enough,” and Evinger argues she should be kept as a strong competitor. It’s all for nought, though, as Tonya Evinger is the second person the tribe speaks to.

Episode 3: Three Piece And A Blindside

YAMMA is now in dire straights, having yet to win a competition. But things aren’t much better at Battlecade beach. Covington’s abrasive personality and preexisting bad blood is starting to ruffle feathers, and camp life has taken a turn for the worse.

This week’s challenge is another Survivor classic: eat weird sh*t until someone pukes. YAMMA sees this as an excellent opportunity to get their first win, but those hopes are dashed when, after everyone in the preliminary rounds eats the grubs with minimal squeamishness, Gegard Mousasi boat races Chuck Liddell through two balut eggs without ever showing any expression on his face. YAMMA is now kicking themselves for voting off Evinger who would have likely excelled here.

The core YAMMA alliance, headed up by Cruz and now featuring Macfarlane, as well, ultimately decides Masvidal is too dangerous to leave hanging around and, despite his prowess in the challenges, is voted off.

Episode 4: Chaos Rains

The YAMMA tribe is in total free fall and looking like one of the worst tribes in Survivor history, but their luck is about to turn around. This week’s immunity challenge is Blind Leading the Blind, a team exercise that has one caller directing three pairs of blindfolded teammates through a maze to pick up puzzle pieces. Growing discord in the Battlecade camp proves disastrous in this team-based challenge, and Felice Herrig, Battlecade’s designated caller, egregiously botches things, sending Battlecade to Tribal for the first time.

Back at camp, Covington is the obvious first choice, and most seem to be on board with it. But Covington argues vociferously that Herrig and her botching of the immunity challenge warrants her ouster. Prolonged strategic conversations are cut short, though, when a fierce monsoon hits the island, forcing everyone to take shelter until Tribal Council.

At Tribal, White berates Team Battlecade for “not sticking to the game plan” and asks them all what the hell they were thinking. The votes are cast but, SWERVE, Covington plays a hidden immunity idol he found at camp! Eight votes are cast for Covington, but the idol protects him, and Covington and A.J. McKee - who have struck up a friendship - blindside Randy Couture! ‘The Natural’ grabs his torch and exits the game, while everyone stares in amazement and Covington and McKee celebrate.

Episode 5: Make YAMMA Great Again.

Back at Battlecade beach, Covington and McKee are triumphant, and Covington reveals they targeted Couture because he had been the point person lobbying against him. There’s no time to rest on his laurels, though, because the rest of Battlecade is up in arms, and Covington is in their crosshairs. However, ‘Chaos’ is granted a reprieve as at the next immunity challenge, Dana reveals a tribe swap. A random draw results in the new Battlecade team comprised of McKee, Herrig, Ortega, Shevchenko, Cerrone, Hill, Till, and Macfarlane with the new YAMMA team comprised of Covington, Mousasi, Nunes, Rawlings, Tate, Liddell, Cruz, and Harrison.

Dana immediately gets the new teams into an immunity challenge: Wicker Flicker, where one tribe member launches a ball via slingshot into the air and tribemates attempt to catch the balls in wicker baskets. Ortega and Covington dominate the game, and Battlecade wins in a heated contest, sending the newly formed YAMMA back to Tribal once again.

Back on YAMMA beach, the former Battlecade tribe members sour former (and current) YAMMA members toward Covington. But Cruz is concerned about voting out Covington and giving the women of the tribe a majority. At Tribal, Covington argues that the tribe should keep him because of his exemplary performance in the challenge, and because he wants to “Make YAMMA Great Again.” It doesn’t work, though, as this time Covington is voted out unanimously. There’s no immunity idol to save him.

Episode 6: Foregone Conclusions

Back at YAMMA beach a weight has been lifted from the game as ‘Chaos’ has finally left. That feeling is short-lived, though, as the next immunity challenge is one a game of Schmergen Brawl. The game is essentially a combination of basketball and rugby, or as the Dagestani’s call it, “Basketball,” and it’s one of the only games banned from Survivor due to its propensity for causing injury. However, White declares that on “Fight Island,” there is no such thing as “safety first.”

The game quickly devolves into something close to a gang brawl, with Nunes and Shevchenko getting especially rough with one another. In the most predictable outcome ever, things reach a fever pitch, and Cruz ends up separating his shoulder severely, requiring an immediate medical evac. The game isn’t over, though. Even with Cruz out, Dana insists on finishing the challenge, and devastation hits YAMMA as Battlecade wins, meaning YAMMA will lose two contestants in one day.

Back at YAMMA beach, the camp is in disarray. Cruz had been the ringleader, leaving a power vacuum. Liddell attempts to step into that void, but Miesha Tate has other ideas and begins laying the groundwork for a female alliance. Mousasi reads the room correctly and throws his lot in with the women. At Tribal, Liddell is kicked off a reality television show for the second time since “Big Brother.” But this time, he makes it a hell of a lot further.

Episode 7: Push Your Way To The Top

The YAMMA tribe is decimated, but not out of it. Though their numbers are few, the remaining tribe members have been bonded by the crucible of starvation and defeat. Meanwhile the newly constructed Battlecade is meshing well and making plans to pick off the YAMMA tribe after the merge.

The next immunity challenge is a topical, classic challenge: Sumo at Sea. Castaways face off on a floating platform carrying padded bags and attempt to knock each other off, scoring points for their tribe. It’s a challenge well-suited to the remaining YAMMA tribe members, and Mousasi, Harrison, and Tate run over Till, Herrig, and Hill, with only Shevchenko tripping Nunes off the platform for Battlecade. For only the second time, Battlecade is going to Tribal.

Back at camp, there are no easy votes, and chaos ensues, with nearly everyone’s name getting thrown out at one point or another. A core alliance of Cerrone, Herrig, Hill, Macfarlane, Ortega, and Shevchenko emerges, leaving Till and McKee on the outside looking in. At Tribal, the McKee, who already broke with the group once, is deemed a threat to stability come the merge and he is voted off.

Episode 8: Two For The Price Of One

Survivor is an unpredictable game, and nowhere more so than on “Fight Island.” The remaining castaways find out first hand when the two tribes arrive for their next immunity challenge and White greets them with a shocking message:

“In Survivor, like in the octagon, crazy sh*t happens,” he says. “Today, you won’t be competing for team immunity, but individual immunity. Both tribes will go to one giant tribal council tonight, where a member of each tribe will be voted off by their tribemates. Afterward, the 10 remaining castaways will return to Battlecade beach, where they will merge into HOOKnSHOOT.”

The immunity challenge is the quintessential Survivor challenge: Get a Grip. It’s a simple enough challenge: Survivor’s climb a pole and hold onto it for as long as they can, but the ego of 12 professional fighters fuels a grueling competition that sees competitors stick around for hours. In the end, Ortega claims individual immunity for Battlecade, and Rawlings earns if for YAMMA.

At the group tribal, Battlecade’s underlying power struggle is revealed. Shevchenko and Herrig are gunning for one another as strategic threats, but Herrig’s argument that Shevchenko presents more of a physical post-merge threat lands well with the men of the tribe, and Shevchenko is stunned to be voted out unanimously. Shortly afterward, Tate is revealed to be pulling the strings at YAMMA beach as she orchestrates a blindside of Nunes, who was convinced the women’s alliance was sticking to the plan.

After all the votes are cast, the new HOOKnSHOOT tribe gathers their gear and heads to their new home.

Episode 9: HooknShoot Your Shot

As with any merge, chaos ensues. The Battlecade tribe is merging with numbers, but tribal lines are very blurry. Herrig, Hill, and Macfarlane are tight, and Cerrone and Ortega are nominally with them. But when Herrig targets Mousasi as the next to go, the men get concerned about their dwindling number of Y chromosomes, and a counterplot to take out Herrig is hatched.

The first solo individual immunity challenge is another fan favorite: When It Rains, It Pours. Castaways have their wrist attached to a bucket of water overhead, and they must keep their arm over their head to prevent the bucket from tipping and knocking them out. In the end, Herrig drops out in exchange for a peanut butter sandwich, and Kayla Harrison guts out a tough win over Ortega.

Back at camp, Ortega and Cerrone are still uncomfortable with Mousasi exiting, and they attempt to cobble together a voting bloc of themselves and the former YAMMA tribe. Their plan works, and at Tribal, Herrig is caught completely off guard, causing Dana White to exclaim, “What a f*cking blindside! Now that’s how you play Survivor!” Felice Herrig is the first jury member on “Fight Island.”

Episode 10: Don’t Hold Your Breath

Back at camp, Hill and Macfarlane are taken aback and now find themselves needing to scramble. They talk to Tate and argue the next person to go needs to be a guy, or else they lose the advantage in numbers. Tate is definitely giving it some consideration as the tribe heads to the next immunity challenge.

This time it’s one of the most basic challenges, Last Gasp, where survivors swim under a steel grate and wait for the tide to come in – the last survivor who stays under the grate wins immunity. It’s a challenge custom-made for Ilima-lei Macfarlane who, knowing she needs the immunity, wins handily.

Back at camp, Hill and Macfarlane once again try to get the women to align by targeting Ortega, who has proven to be a very strong challenge competitor. Meanwhile, Cerrone and Ortega are targeting Hill for an easy vote as the only non-immune player who was not in on the Herrig blindside. Ultimately, Tate, Rawlings, and Harrison decide that the combined threat of Ortega in challenges and potentially losing their numbers advantage is too great and Ortega becomes the second member of the jury.

Episode 11: Voted Off Into The Sunset

These days, camp life is pretty miserable for tribe HOOKnSHOOT. Nearly a month into the game, fighters are starting to really feel the affects of starvation, and Darren Till jokes that after this he may add the lightweight title to his ambitious championship plans. Fortunately, the next immunity challenge is meant to test this hunger and the fighters’ resolve. It’s Perch, and it requires castaways to stand on a perch over the ocean while White tempts them down with lavish food rewards.

The chaos surrounding recent votes has made it so that no one feels safe, and White’s initial offerings of pizza fall on deaf ears. After one hour in, though, White brings out a six pack of beer, and Cowboy and Till leap into the ocean immediately. Ten minutes later, Harrison loses focus and falls and at the two-hour mark, Tate and Rawlings bail in exchange for chocolate and peanut butter. After three hours, White presents a cheeseburger and fries, which Hill and Macfarlane agree to split, leaving Mousasi with immunity.

Back at camp, Cerrone, Till, and Mousasi are obviously on the outs, but they still try to make inroads with all of the women. Not much traction is gained, though, and the women’s alliance targets Cerrone or Till as the next to go. Ultimately, the decide to oust Cerrone, as Till has yet to show much strategic gameplay and at Tribal, Cowboy becomes the third member of the jury.

Episode 12: Fighting For Your Family

With only seven castaways left, HOOKnSHOOT camp is excited about the potential of a visit from their loved-ones, and they are correct. At the next immunity challenge, White reminds everyone that “this isn’t a f*cking team game. You’re playing for yourself and your families, so why not let them get involved, too.” The challenge is a combination loved-one visit, where their friends and family members assist them in a maze and puzzle. During the challenge, Hlil and her podcast partner Jessica Penne jet through the maze and crush the puzzle, granting Hill her first immunity win.

Back at camp, though Till or Mousasi present an easy next vote, but Rawlings decides she’s ready to make a move and presents the idea of blindsiding Tate. Hill and Macfarlane are on board, and they rope in Till and Mousasi as well, leaving Harrison out of it for fear she would alert Tate to the impending blindside. At Tribal Council, the plan goes off without a hitch, and Miesha Tate becomes the fourth member of the jury.

Episode 13: Now That’s What I Call Overkill

With only six castaways left, thoughts are now turning toward jury selection votes, and more importantly, who Survivors don’t want to sit next to at final tribal. But before we can get to the social politics of it all, there’s an immunity challenge to be contested, and this one is Snag, Bag, and Drag, a contest where Survivors race to retrieve balls and then navigate those balls through a table maze. Gegard Mousasi quickly retrieves all of his balls and drops them into their spots in the table maze with relative ease, granting him his second individual immunity.

Back at camp, Hill, Macfarlane, and Rawlings set their sights on Harrison, as no one wants to sit next to her at final tribal – or at least that’s what they tell Rawlings. After Rawlings orchestrated the betrayal of Tate last vote, Hill and Macfarlane are concerned about her resume heading into final tribal, and in turn, plot to backstab Rawlings with the assistance of Mousasi and Till.

At Tribal Council, the best laid plains of mice and Macfarlane backfire though as Till outs the subterfuge to the group, causing pandemonium. Last-minute scrambling takes place with Rawlings apoplectic at her near blindsiding and Harrison upset that once again she was left out of the planning. In the end, Harrison, Rawlings, Till, and Mousasi vote Angela Hill out of the game, making her the fifth member of the jury.

Episode 14: Never Leave It In The Hands Of The Jury

After over a month on Fight Island, only five remain: two Bellator fights, one UFC fighter, one Bare Knuckle FC fighter and one PFL fighter. It’s a varied group from all aspects of the combat world, and the penultimate immunity challenge is one that will test them in a completely different manner than their previous challenges have.

The Survivor Quiz Show is one of the most common challenges in the game and tests the castaways on their knowledge of local culture. But on “Fight Island,” the only culture is fighting, so this challenge will test their knowledge of the history of MMA. This format massively favors Mousasi who, though he’s still only 36, has been fighting since 2003 and thus lived much of MMA’s history. He outpoints Ilima-Lei Macfarlane en route to his second straight immunity win and third win overall.

Back at camp, the ramshackle alliance of four that was born from the treachery of Angela Hill and Macfarlane – Harrison, Mousasi, Rawlings, and Till – are all in agreement to finish the job from last tribal, and they oust Macfarlane. At Tribal Council, White gives another impassioned speech about how now is the time to “dig deep and lay it all on the line, because opportunities like this don’t come along every day.” The misfit alliance stays true, and Ilima-lei Macfarlane becomes the sixth member of the jury.

The final four return to camp, on edge in advance of the final immunity challenge. There are no strong alliances among the remaining four, making individual immunity that much more important to guarantee oneself a spot at the final tribal council. The final immunity challenge is a throwback. To prove how badly the Survivors want to win, they will play Hard Idol, a challenge where each castaway puts their hand on an idol and the last one left holding on is the winner. After four hours, Rawlings loses focus and slips. An hour later, Harrison joins her. Till and Mousasi though battle late into the day, both refusing to concede. After 7 hours of standing, a muscle cramp causing Mousasi to slip off the idol, giving Darren Till the final immunity.

At the penultimate Tribal Council, there’s no consensus with who will go home. Rawlings wants Harrison gone, and as a result, Harrison wants Rawlings gone. But Mousasi and Till are split. The tribe votes, and it results in an even 2-2 split. They revote, and it remains the same at which point, White reveals one last twist:

“Instead of going to a fire making competition to decide who goes home, ‘Fight Island’ has another way to settle deadlocked votes. You want to fight to stay in this f*cking game? We’ll give you the chance, right now, inside the octagon!” A cage is dropped from the ceiling, pro-wrestling style, and Bruce Buffer jumps out from behind a palm frond. After spending a month without food or training, and on zero notice, Kayla Harrison and Bec Rawlings are about to have a fist fight.

Is this a regulation nightmare? Of course it is. But it’s also damn great television, and on “Fight Island,” there are no commissions – just the law of the jungle. Unfortunately, the laws of the jungle tend to favor the bigger and stronger combatants, and though she’s certainly a more skilled striker, Bec Rawlings is outgunned by the two-time Olympic gold medalist. Harrison hip tosses Rawlings and submits her in 3:26 seconds, securing her place at final Tribal Council and making Rawlings the seventh and final member of the jury.

Harrison, Mousasi, and Till return to HOOKnSHOOT beach still reeling from the chaotic events of Tribal Council and exultant at having made it to the last day. Well, except Mousasi, who just says, “That was a good fight. I’m glad we made it” and goes to sleep.

The group wakes up on Day 39, the final day of the competition, and sets about tearing down their shelter and reflecting on their time on “Fight Island.” In a few short hours, they will stand in front of the jury and make their case for why they should be awarded the $1M prize and the title shot.

At Final Tribal Council, White looks at the three remaining Survivors and tells them, “Haven’t I always told you not to leave it in the hands of the f*cking judges? Well, now look at you. There are seven judges, and each of them have every reason to hate you. You took a million dollars from them. So you’d better convince them right now, because there’s no appeal process for this sh*t.”

Kayla Harrison argues that she deserves the to win because she played a clean game: She worked hard, didn’t betray anyone, and held her own in challenges. Plus, she’s the only person here who had to literally fight to make it to Final Tribal.

Mousasi argues that he deserves to win because of his challenge dominance. But ultimately, he doesn’t actually care that much. Either way, he’s good with it, and now his weight cut for Douglas Lima will be much easier.

Darren Till argues he’s the most deserving because he’s the one who got these three here. Had he not blown up Hill’s plans, all three of them would’ve been the next to go. Plus, he won the final immunity challenge and, he adds, “Honestly, I don’t give a f*ck about the money. I just want to fight Adesanya. I told him I was coming for him and I f*cking am.”

After a few standard issue questions like ‘What would you do with the money?” (Harrison: ‘train’, Mousasi: ‘real estate’, Till: ‘drink’) and “Who do you think deserves to be up there instead of you?” (Harrison: ‘Bec’. Mousasi: ‘Fedor’. Till: ‘none of yous’), Miesha Tate asks the big question: “Why should we want to see you get a title shot?”

Harrison says she deserves it because Amanda Nunes has already beaten everyone else. Mousasi says he’s not sure he deserves it, but why not? He’s won titles everywhere else, and a chance at UFC gold would be a great opportunity. And Till answers very succinctly, “Because I’m going to whip the shite out of Israel Adesanya.”

In the end, Gegard Mousasi receives no votes, Bec Rawlings votes for Harrison because “she kicked my ass so I have to vote for her,” and everyone else votes for the freewheeling Scouser.

Congratulations Darren Till, you are the Sole Survivor of Fight Island.

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