To be honest, we’re a little worried about this comics thing going south, so we feel it’s time to finally diversify The Beat and start covering one or two non-comics subjects. We looked around and wondered “What is the hottest thing going?” and the answer was clear: MMA FIGHTING! We’re with Wizard on this: the boys love to see the real grappling and striking, and a whole new class of heroes is emerging.
We’ve been watching THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER since it debuted after Raw many moons ago. The first season was highlighted by the excellent coaching of Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture’s team’s failure to win many fights, and a lot of dumb challenges, as well as the great Chris Leben-Bobby Southworth-Josh Koscheck soap opera. Season 2 had Matt “I’m a Dick” Hughes berating his team right to the top, and unlikely hero Rashad Evans. Season Three was perhaps the best, with “The Passion of Ken Shamrock” taking center stage as his team helplessly watched the hopelessly out of touch pioneer bring a nutritionist to the fray instead of a jiu jitsu coach — a weakness that master psychologist and future Jenna Jameson escort Tito Ortiz would exploit every time.
Season Four was pretty boring — it was all vets who were the kind of level-headed professionals that UFC commish Dana White likes, but many had little gas left in the tank, and a season of no drama and boring fights was the result.
This year, the lightweights have been introduced, and from the looks of the opening episode’s editing, everyone, from coaches Bj Penn and Jens Pulver on down is pretty much a weirdo.
This should be good!
Comics fans, if you want to skip this, just go to the next item. We’ll normally be posting this on weekends, but couldn’t get around to watching our “Tivo” until now.
We’re not familiar with any of the fighters this year…at least no one is wearing a utili-kilt this time, and it isn’t a competition to see who has the worst tattoos and piercings like season three. However, what they lack in body modifications, they make up for with bad haircuts: one guys is sporting a Vulcan do, and another seems to have the Ferenghi look down.
There’s a new house this season, and HOLY MOTHER! This is great! Many of the rooms are decorated with ghastly, sure-to-be nightmare including fantasy paintings everywhere. Air brushed dragons and peeping woodland elves! Who owned this house before — Saddam Hussein?
We meet the coaches, who met in the ring once before with Pulver ascendant. Penn has gone of to have the better career but that early loss still stings. Pulver has a fabulous look, with mismatched eyes (one grey, one brown), chipped teeth and a cap askew in the LIttle Rascals fashion. When the hat comes off, he’s got a fauxhawk to complete the Ed Grimly look. He mentions pissing in people’s Wheaties.
BJ is a former welterweight champ, and hails from Hawaii. He’s one of five brothers, all of whom are named Jay Dee Penn. Okay.
Dana gives them the standard “You must lead your team and be good coaches” talk to start things off. Then it’s the fighter evaluations. The cunning Pulver pulls his first mind game by exhausting the fighters in his evaluation, leaving them flopping around like Swedish fish when Penn comes in for a look. However it was all a psych, as several fighters admit they wanted to be on BJ’s team.
Dana shows the timeless nature of the sport by showing up for the team picks in what looks like an acid wash polo shirt. Or it might be crushed velvet. Either way, nice.
Penn pulls his own psych by asking straight out if anyone wants to be on his team and have nothing to so with Jens Pulver!!! Everyone’s hand goes up! Anarchy. Spanky has a lip-splitting sneer we may see again this year. He also threatens to whip his dick out! That’ll show them who’s boss.
The team picks devolves into sheer chaos to the point where they have to cut it all out since BJ just picks who had their hand up.
Back at the house 6’4″ beanpole Corey Hill is introduced as perhaps the nuttiest of the nuts. He transforms into a dog barking, head waving wild man and starts picking fights with folks. Can this be the sinister artworks’ first victim?
BJ makes everyone get up at 6 am for a workout. This is met with yawns and misery and we enter a Rocky training montage. We meet Rudy Valentino, BJ’s kick boxing instructor, Tony De Souza, a bearded mountain man wrestling coach and Penn brother “Reagan” who is a black belt in jiu jitsu.
In the confession booth, Gabe praises BJ’s multi-dimensionality as a coach and says no one really wanted to be on Jen’s team. However Gabe’s got some multi-dimensionality of his own: HE’S GOT A GUT AND WEIGHS 175 POUNDS! (Lightweight cut off is 155.) Gabe vows to give up his whey protein and go to bed hungry if that’s what it takes. Hasn’t he heard of Jenny Craig? If he gets picked, we’ll be in for another grueling weight cutting episode — our favorite!
Coach Jens says he isn’t the director of the ship — probably because ships have captains — but a representative. His coaches include Matt Pena from Team Millitch for boxing, Taisei Kikuchi a ground coach and Kirk White for wrestling. Despite his scary handyman down by the graveyard look, everyone likes Jens. It’s now time for Team Pulver to pick the first fight.
Gabe, who might get picked, wanders around the house looking hungry and saying “I’m not concerned,” so many times he may just begin to believe it. However, at the workout, Gabe discovers he has GAINED A POUND NOT LOST IT! He begins to cry, earning a shoulder tap of comfort then a hug from Rudy.
“It’s just when I get on that scale and it’s not…” Gabe begins, mirroring the life of women everywhere.
This draws derision in the confession booth. “You don’t see grown men cry too much, especially fighters, especially about losing weight…It seems to be more of a girl problem,” says Rob, showing empathy is not his best feature. “Gabe’s just a P—-. I thought he was a lot cooler than that.”
Gabe doesn’t want Team Pulver to see him crying, and tries to get it together.
Then it’s time for the fight announcement…PSYCH the matchup turns out to be lobster man Allen Berube vs. Cole Miller, one of the better prospects. Gabe smiles, visions of whey protein dancing in his head.
We had already picked Allen as someone to root for because he’s from Biddeford, ME, and apparently he bears gifts of lobster to bring joy everywhere. Actually, he moved to Florida to open a few lobster restaurants, and he began fighting just as a restaurant promotion. He’s only been fighting for a year and a half. However he says he wrestled in high school and has some “bawxing” in his background. While lobsters and horror remain Maine’s main exports, there are a few fighters from around those parts — notably ex champ Tim Sylvia and Marcus Davis, who won on UFC 69 the other night. Clearly the Maine heritage of weekly brawls down at Sulky’s Lounge are paying off for the UFC.
Allen is known as “Monstah, the Crustacean Sensation” after his restaurants. A good nickname is no substitute for a ground game. BJ admits that Monstah doesn’t have much chance, but he’ll coach him to the limit. Oh poor lobstah! He doesn’t stand a clam’s chance in a steamer pot.
Fight day. For amusement, a few people on Team Penn paint themselves Braveheart blue. Cole is shown talking about how prepared he is, and to show it, he puts his cup into his jock. Hardcore!
As the fight starts, the much taller and younger Cole throws a few kicks and Monstah looks anxious and keeps dropping his hands. After another kick, Monstah manages to drop Cole but almost gets trapped in a guillotine before getting his head out. Alas, he isn’t so lucky at escaping the triangle at 2:30, and it’s over.
“For what Monstah had, that was his 100%” says BJ after the fight.
Monstah is philosophical, saying Cole wasn’t a better man or person…but did have better technique. “I don’t feel beat,” he says. “The only thing that’s beat is my haht.” Having delivered a great closing line, Monstah rides off to be reunited with his crabboil.
Well, that was a pretty promising opening episode, but the preview of episode two promises mass insanity and breakdowns galore. These lightweights are heavyweights when it comes to mental instability and that’s just how we like it.