While “The Ultimate Fighter: Live” did not prove a massive ratings success for FX and the UFC, the season and Friday night’s live finale provided several talking points for this week’s edition of The Sunday Junkie.
In the latest installment of our weekly reader-feedback feature, MMAjunkie.com readers discuss all aspects of “TUF,” Mike Chiesa’s tournament win and the impressive Martin Kampmann.
This week’s winner, James from New Jersey, focused on Chiesa, who he believes may not necessarily be getting the recognition he deserves.
For his winning entry, James wins a free one-year subscription to “Fighters Only” magazine, the world’s leading MMA and lifestyle magazine.
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(Pictured: Mike Chiesa)
MIKE CHIESA’S INCREDIBLE STORY DOESN’T END WITH FATHER’S PASSING
This season of “The Ultimate Fighter” may have had the lowest ratings in series history, but it produced the most inspiring story of all 15 seasons. By now, everyone knows the story of Mike Chiesa’s father. What has been overlooked, however, is the caliber of competition he defeated in the final four weeks of the season to earn his win. He defeated early favorite Justin Lawrence in near-dominating fashion in the quarterfinals. He then defeated highly-touted James Vick in the semifinals, and in a final testament to his heart and ability, he defeated his teammate, overall first pick and team Serra-Longo member Al Iaquinta in the first round. Chiesa might not be the most technical fighter, but he unarguably defeated the three toughest guys of the season in one month and proved he has the heart to make it in the UFC.
Kendall Park, N.J.
THE KEY TO SUCCESS FOR “TUF” IS MORE DRAMA, NOT LIVE FIGHTS
The new format of “The Ultimate Fighter” was unveiled with a bang as part of the FOX and UFC partnership announcement. It was going to be bigger, better and most importantly – live. And it was very live, but sadly it wasn’t bigger or better as far as the ratings go. In the past few years, the UFC has been trying really hard to clean up its act in order to become more “mainstream,” but sadly this hasn’t done “TUF’ any favors. Gone is the reality-TV type drama from the first “TUF” house, and in its place remains TV time filled by long training practices followed by, on a good day, a Facebook-quality type fight. In its quest to become mainstream, the UFC has failed to recognize that reality TV drama has become mainstream. Facebook quality fights without the drama sadly have not and probably never will.
“TUF” NEEDS A COMEBACK SEASON, AND IT NEEDS HEAVYWEIGHTS
I heard that Dana White was flirting with the idea of having a follow-up “comeback” season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Season four of “TUF” was a great concept, not only due to the fact that it featured former UFC fighters given a second chance but because the winner was also granted a title shot in each of their respected weightclasses. While one winner, Travis Lutter, came up short, the other, Matt Serra, went on to pull off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history. In my opinion, another “comeback” season should feature the heavyweight division. Heavyweights are a fan-favorite, and it would be the perfect recipe to resurrect the drop in ratings. The most important name that comes to mind is Tim Sylvia. It’s no secret that Sylvia has been actively campaigning for a return to the UFC, so why not give him the chance to show us what he is made of?
WILL INJURIES AFFECT FUTURE “TUF: LIVE” SEASONS?
With the first live season of “The Ultimate Fighter” now complete, I can’t help but think of how lucky the UFC is to have made it through the season without losing a fighter to injury. Al Iaquinta was fighting for the third consecutive week this past Friday, where in past seasons the contestants would fight no more than two weeks in a row before having months off to recover for the finale. Both James Vick and Vinc Pichel, who lost in the semifinals, weren’t able compete this past Friday. What would have happened if either man had won but not been cleared to fight in the final? I loved the live fights every week, but with all the medical suspensions that come with every UFC event, I just don’t see how they won’t run in to this problem in the future.
BUMMER FOR BONNAR
Dana White officially shot down Stephan Bonnar’s public plea to coach opposite fellow “The Ultimate Fighter 1″ cast-mate Forrest Griffin. Bummer. Watching them share stories on “UFC Live” a few weeks ago was like catching up with a couple of old friends. Obviously, the culmination fight at the end of the season wouldn’t have changed the 205-pound title picture, but a full season of Bonnar and Griffin coaching would have been a blast. It would have been much more fun than the constant trashtalking and bickering between rival coaches that by now seems stale and contrived. At least Bonnar and Griffin are quick-witted guys that would have genuinely clever things to say, not to mention knowledgeable fighters that would be great coaches. It’s a shame the idea got shot down. The UFC has tried everything to get “The Ultimate Fighter’s” ratings up, so why not try making it fun again?
San Jacinto, Calif.
“THE HITMAN” PROVED AGAIN HE IS ONE OF THE WELTERWEIGHT DIVISION’S ELITE
Martin Kampmann on Friday night proved to the world that he is in the division to stay and is determined to get a long-awaited title shot. He was rocked early by Jake Elleberger but bounced back in brilliant fashion and stopped “The Juggernaut” for only the second time in his career. Kampmann often goes unnoticed in the welterweight division given his persona and character, but he definitely raised some eyebrows on Friday night and should deservedly be given the fight with Johnny Hendricks to determine the No. 1 contender. With Georges St-Pierre and Carlos Condit set to wait for each other, this makes perfect sense. Kampmann has stopped Ellenberger and Alves in his past two fights and needs to keep his stock high. One thing for sure is that Kampmann is definitely in the mix as one of the best 170-pounders in the world.
IT PAYS TO BE OUTSPOKEN
Reminiscent of his submission win over Thiago Alves, Martin Kampmann defeated Jake “The Juggernaunt” Ellenberger in yet another dramatic comeback. The Danish striker survived the early onslaught by Ellenberger, landing a vicious knee to get the TKO victory. The only disappointing part of Kampmann’s performance, aside from walking away battered and bruised, was his lackluster post-fight interview. When asked about fighting Johny Hendricks, Kampmann should have called out the welterweight interim champ Carlos Condit. In addition to giving fans the same goosebumps as when Chael Sonnen called out Anderson Silva, calling out Condit would have put the welterweight title within his reach. However, much like Ellenberger’s post-fight speech in his previous fight, Kampmann chose to stay silent. By doing so, he put himself at a similar risk to take another fight and lose his chance to compete for the welterweight title.
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
ALEXANDER GUSTAFSSON THE ONLY LOGICAL FIGHT FOR “SHOGUN” RUA
This week we saw UFC 149 suffer a big hit with Thiago Silva having to withdraw from his fight with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua due to injury. We also saw the UFC attempt to replace him with Glover Teixeira but “Shogun” reportedly turned the fight down. I believe the only other fighter that makes sense to replace Silva with is Alexander Gustafsson. Some might argue that “Shogun” is coming off of a loss. But most MMA websites have “Shogun” ranked at No. 4 and Gustafsson at No. 7. Therefore, Gustafsson would be fighting a higher-ranked fighter even if “Shogun” is coming off a loss. With all the other ranked fighters at light heavyweight either recovering from injuries or already booked, it only makes sense to give Gustafsson the fight with “Shogun.” It would be an exciting fight and a fight that I do believe most MMA fans would love to see.
Port Saint Lucie, Fla.
SIDELINED CONTENDERS HURTING THE UFC
Allowing contenders to sit and wait for title shots is hurting the UFC. The UFC relies on its stars, and the biggest of these stars are at the highest level, and thus a vast majority are No. 1 contenders. I would go as far as to say that a lot of them have pay-per-view cuts (meaning they bring in lots of fans). Yet they are allowed to wait idly instead of headlining cards while the UFC’s pay-per-view numbers are down considerably. Even worse is that Carlos Condit is allowed to wait for Georges St-Pierre. Isn’t the whole idea of an interim title to keep the division moving instead of a line of contenders forming? After his win over Jake Ellenberger, Martin Kampmann is another worthy contender. But welterweight has Condit and Johny Hendricks already, so we see that the UFC is wasting its own talent and starving its own product.
MOUTHPIECE-HANDLING POLICIES NEED TO BE ADDRESSED
I’ve always wanted to post about this disturbing mouthpiece-handling trend in MMA. We all want to look out for fighters’ health and safety, and hygiene is a factor in both of those. I just don’t understand why officials can’t afford to spare a few seconds to clean the mouthpiece every time it gets dropped before getting it back to the fighter’s mouth. Imagine the dirt of shoes, blood, perspiration and all the other bacterias that are present in the ring that gets caught up on that mouthpiece every time it gets dropped. I don’t know if the athletic commission covers this, but I hope someone does something about it. In boxing, they have rules set in place for this type of scenario. I guess they can learn from it and use it for MMA.
COMBAT JIU-JITSU BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN GRAPPLING AND MMA
On May 20, a new sport was born called combat jiu-jitsu. It has the same rules as jiu-jitsu, but when the fight hits the ground, you are allowed to punch your opponent in the face. Eddie Bravo, founder of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu and also of the rubber guard, was the brainchild behind this experimental sport. It was sanctioned on an amateur level by the California State Athletic Commission. Bravo says “it is like extreme jiu-jitsu or tame MMA.” Bravo also makes the point that if an 8-year-old has trained in combat jiu-jitsu until the age of 18, he will be much more prepared for a career in MMA than that of the same 8-year-old who only trains in regular Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I tend to agree with his assessment.
Randy “RANBX” Neidich
Mt. Vernon, N.Y.
THANK YOU, MMA MEDIA
I wanted to take time to officially thank the MMA media, especially MMAjunkie.com, for their exceptional coverage of all MMA-related stories, events, interviews, etc. I used to purchase every pay-per-view event, but with the economy the way it is, cable has become a luxury I can no longer afford and purchasing pay-per-views is out of the question at this time. However, with the online media coverage the way it is, I still keep up with the sport I love so much. I can see all the interviews. I can watch fights on Facebook, and I still get to feel like I’m watching the fights with the play-by-play updates during live events. I appreciate the efforts put forth by all the media outlets. I’m sure I’m not the only one in this boat, so I’ll speak for everyone in the same position as myself.
St. Louis, Mo.
UFC EXPERIENCE MORE THAN WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION
This past weekend was my first time going to a live UFC event, and I have to say it was amazing to see just how the whole night unfolds and be a part of the crowd as Dan Hardy and Roy Nelson won their fights. I was rooting for both guys, and even though I also wanted Frank Mir to win, the energy was so intense that I found myself getting up and cheering for Junior Dos Santos after he won. To all the fans who want to go to an event but don’t know if they want to spend the money, do it. The experience is worth more then the ticket price.
REFEREES SOMETIMES KNOW BEST
This past week’s The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale had a great fight between Martin Kampmann and Jake Ellenberger, but many fans are now saying that the fight wasn’t fair because Kampmann was giving a chance to recover and Ellenberger was not. Most fans see a knockdown as just that, a knockdown, but you have to look at each fighter individually and judge whether it was a flash knockout or the fighter has really been put to sleep. Kampmann’s was a flash knockout, and he immediately starting grappling after he hit the ground. Ellenberger’s body was locked up, and his eyes rolled to the back of his head. He couldn’t defend himself from the oncoming onslaught. My point is fans shouldn’t be so quick to criticize referees when all they have in mind is fighter safety.
Erick “erick349″ Franklin
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