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The 7 - Movies & TV - [TUF] Life Without Leben...
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Boston Idol
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#1 Posted on 1.3.05 1348.52
Reposted on: 1.3.12 1349.11
This week's episode of "The Ultimate
Fighter" was the first episode without
Chris Leben. Apparently the producers
found it as dull as I did because it
looks like they are planning to bring
Leben back next week in a violation
of their own "elimination" format.

I didn't miss Leben's juvenile insults
and combative nature at all, but since
he had featured heavily in the previous
two episodes there was a large void to
fill and unfortunately the producers
chose to fill it with less entertaining
bickering and complaining.

But first, Team Couture had sucked so
hard that Team Liddell needed to send
them a less regarded fighter the way
RAW sent their castoffs to SmackDown!

Liddell, chose to send Josh Rafferty
to Team Couture. Liddell's frustration
over having to essentially sell out a
member of his team was understandable,
but sadly he wasn't able to articulate
it beyond a few bleeped out expletives.

The stipulation kills off the concept
of teamwork because the better a team
does, the faster they will be torn
apart. Dana White, not the sharpest
knife in the drawer, seemed to sense
the inherent weakness in this plan and
rhetorically asked "is that okay?" in
a reflection of his own embarrassment.

The team challenge followed. It was
a convoluted tug of war, sort of like
an eight-man tag team strap match where
the straps were tangled up. Fighters
struggled and lurched and tried to grab
flags placed in a circle around them.
The challenge screamed out for a high
angle shot from a boom camera, but all
they showed were confusing low angles.

Team Couture won the challenge so they
got to book the light heavyweight fight
for the week. Stephan Bonner, who is
naturally unlikable, chose to represent
Team Couture. While tempted to pick a
weak opponent to improve his chances
of collecting a knockout/tapout bonus,
Bonner eventually chose to target the
fighter he saw as the strongest light
heavy on Team Couture, Bobby Southworth.

Throughout the show they aired B-roll
of the other fighters complaining about
each other, laying around, or messing
around at the gym. The basketball
clips were an improvement over endless
shots of fighters laying on couches,
but they still appeared listless.

The focus of the complaining was Team
Lidell's mistrust of Sam Hoger, who
they felt spent too much time buddying
up with fighters from Team Couture,
but since they had twice sent members
over to Team Couture, it was hard to
sympathize with their position.

What difference does team alliance
make when fighters can be regularly
reshuffled to maintain balance? The
producers need to answer questions
like that on the show, though ideally
they should have asked the question
while developing the show and should
have realized they needed a different
plan to protect the team concept.

The fight between Bonner and Southworth
was better than the "highly anticipated"
fight between Josh Koscheck and Chris
Leben. Bonner and Southworth landed
more strikes while standing and also
displayed better overall ground skills.
Bonner almost caught Southworth in a
guillotine choke but Bobby escaped.
Southworth hit Bonner in the face with
some hard jabs and got some takedowns,
though Bonner also made some escapes.

In the end it was a pretty even fight
with Bonner perhaps taking the first
round by dominating the final minute
after Southworth appeared to blow up.
Both fighters were clearly tiring in
the second round, but kept working
in a round that was tough to call.

After two rounds, the judges awarded
the fight to Bonner on a split decision.
The decision was not obviously flawed,
but it was disappointing, especially
given the promise of another good round
from these two fighters and the chance
for a more decisive ending.

Southworth, who had earlier chastised
Leben's complaints about the decision
in the Koscheck fight, found himself
on the short end of the decision and
complained vigorously that he had
never been hurt in the fight. While
that may have been true, MMA bouts
are judged on more than just damage.

Dana White was again stuck offering
up mealy mouthed admonitions against
"leaving the fight in the hands of
the judges." White was right, but
the cumulative effect of two straight
decisions where the audience probably
wanted a third round instead will not
help sell MMA and UFC in particular.

The fights on this show aren't a true
reflection of the UFC product, but the
"Ultimate Fighter" is a free sample for
new and returning fans and the last
two samples aren't going to win over
many converts, despite the quality of
the action in this week's bout.

Vince McMahon proved years ago that
his viewers were more concerned with
hype and results than with the quality
of the action in between. This week's
fight offered quality action, but it
probably appealed mainly to existing
fans and whether it encouraged anyone
to pay for more remains to be seen.

The previews for next week's episode
had White telling Southworth "You will
not disrespect me!" and also teased
the return of an eliminated fighter.

Shuffling fighters from one team to
another weakened the team concept that
is central to "The Ultimate Fighter."
Bringing back an eliminated fighter
will kill off the elimination concept
that is key to "The Ultimate Fighter."

Whatever Leben offers in terms of his
trash talking charisma, he lost and
he was eliminated. If "The Ultimate
Fighter" reneges on that stipulation,
this show will be on its last legs.

Frank
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ColeKingsly
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#2 Posted on 2.3.05 1313.45
Reposted on: 2.3.12 1321.55
I assume you are totally speculating that it is indeed Leben who returns, I personally don't think it will be him. My guess is Nathan's MRI comes back showing damage and he is done and a previously dismissed fighter takes his place, but not Leben.

Also, even if it was Leben I would hardly consider that putting the show on it's last leg, I highly doubt many viewers would tune out because the felt betrayed that the rules of the show weren't followed.

The show so far is a runaway success, the Leben / Koscheck fight pulled down a 2.0 rating making it the most watched UFC fight ever with over 2 million viewers. Mondays rating was down to a 1.7 but still higher than they anticipated and except Raw (and maybe CSI reruns) it is the highest rated show on Spike TV I believe.

Cole

(edited by ColeKingsly on 2.3.05 1433)
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#3 Posted on 2.3.05 2238.37
Reposted on: 2.3.12 2244.22
It isn't so much about betrayal as it is about
removing the drama from elimination bouts by
showing that elimination is meaningless.

How much of the value of Leben vs Koscheck was
"I want to see them fight" and how much was
"I want to see who gets eliminated?"

Put another way, if fighters who lost were never
eliminated, would it change the dynamics of the
show for you as a viewer?

Granted, Quarry can be fobbed off as a "one time
exception", but once that step is taken, who can
say that there won't be more exceptions?

And yes, I'm merely speculating that it's Leben,
though bringing back any eliminated fighter seems
problematic on a show where elimination is one of
the major plot devices.

Frank
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#4 Posted on 8.3.05 0741.51
Reposted on: 8.3.12 0741.53
Well, good call on it being Leben, once they said it was up to Nate to choose I knew he would be bringing back Chris. I'm not sure how I feel about it, I think it just shows a lack of planning on behalf of the creators and producers of the show. This is atleast the second time that it seems they have just made up rules on the fly, the first major one being where one team has to give up a fighter to even out things. These situations should have been thought of before and these rules put in place.

Cole
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