When I watched the new episode of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 18 last night, I realized something: it’s actually not complete garbage. The recycled vomit crust that had enveloped the series has actually been crinkled loose, and its luster has been restored to a status not seen since TUF 1. What other season has featured so many competitors who can be accurately described as pioneers? Hell, I listened to a Sherdog Radio interview with Shayna Baszler in 2008, and I’ve had my Roxanne Modafferi t-shirt (courtesy of Fightlinker) for multiple years as well. Lining up a similar roster of noted fighters (and less noted ones who end up kicking some of their asses) will probably never be possible again for either gender, but especially for women, as female fighters of various weights all seem to try to shoehorn themselves into the single cash cow of the 135-lb women’s division (such as it is).
Further, the portrayal of Ronda Rousey on the show, much ballyhooed as negative beforehand, does not actually seem so unfavorable to her, at least so far. She really just seems kinda intense. In a way, it might even make her even more marketable if she embraces the “cray cray image” she conveys, as her edict of “I will retire undefeated” and hysterics about Meisha Tate’s joy at seeing Baszler lose (to which Tate replied, “Dude, she’s my friend”) were delivered with a conviction that could end up growing on people.
This confluence of factors, combined with the atrociously low ratings the series has gotten, may actually portend doom for the series’ long-term viability. Simply put, the show is firing on every barrel it can, yet ratings are at an all-time low. The Sonnen vs. Shogun card did excellent ratings, so it’s not like people don’t know how to tune to Fox Sports 1; it seems to be a problem with the actual programming. UFC President Dana White launched into a massively analytical breakdown of the situation instead of swearing, meaning he must actually be extremely fearful about it. The obvious answer here is for White to emphasize that in addition to the appeal factors listed above, the fighters might actually fuck. The implication that things could escalate into a full-scale porno practically guarantees my continued viewership.
Last night was episode two of TUF: Ronda vs Miesha and while the coaches haven’t hit nuclear bitch levels yet, this episode set up a nice foundation upon which all future crazy mean girl shit will stand upon. It also featured a fight between submission goddess Shayna Baszler and Julianna Pene – a fight which Baszler not only lost, but lost via submission! It was a pretty shocking way for Shayna to go out, so naturally we turn to her TUF blog for answers:
Julianna showed up that day and fought for her life. I didn’t. Bottom line. Like her or not, she fought for her life at a time when I felt she didn’t even deserve to be in the cage with me. I still to this day say 99 out of 100 times, I win this fight. She just happened to do whatever it took to have her 1/100 happen on that day. The most frustrating part of all of this being that all the new fans of WMMA and of the QoS will only hate because I was so confident going into this fight, it comes off as arrogant. Julianna Pena is not better than the Queen of Spades. But many will believe it after this…foolish mortals.
I was devastated. Over 11 years of work. Of fighting for gas money. And here it is, what I finally deserve. And I couldn’t get up??? WTF? It’s over. My shot. I still say I was the best female in that house. And for whatever reason, I didn’t fight like it. Watch it again, people. I had zero urgency. And I would pay for that by losing to arguably the girl with the least amount of technique in the house.
So Ronda took me out of the locker room and into the lobby of the gym. They showed a small part of our conversation, but they didn’t show the parts that were the most important to me. She said, “Shayna, this isn’t the only way to get what you want, it’s just one way. And, honestly, for you, it isn’t even the best way.” She told me that the reason I was her No. 1 pick wasn’t just because she believed I would win, but because I was her biggest threat on the show, and it’s wise to keep me close. I looked straight at her and said, “You will see me across the cage from you.” She replied, “I know I will,” with 100 percent belief, “…..and I will beat the shit out of you.” We laughed. It was huge that as a potential rival for her belt one day, she was completely understanding. In this sport, more than any other sport, the best fighter does not always win. That’s the simple truth. And it’s why so many love this sport.
My favorite part of that conversation was when Ronda pointed out that there were a lot of TUF winners that went on to do nothing, and even more TUF losers who have done great things. If Shayna gets another chance on the TUF finale (and it would be almost criminal for them not to give her one), I’m sure she’ll show off what she’s really capable of – tapping nearly any female fighter in the league in under a minute.
If it weren’t for testing positive for pot pee, Riddle would be riding a four fight win streak. And if it weren’t for his big mouth, he might still have his job with the UFC. As it stands, he’s 2-0-2 instead and definitely isn’t welcome back with the organization after basically accusing them of tampering with his drug test and shit talking Dana White.
His post-UFC career involved getting signed by LegacyFC, having his contract bought out by Bellator, and then getting injured leading up to his Bellator welterweight tournament fight. When the promotion refused to shuffle their cards to let him fight on a later event, he ragequit the sport on Twitter.
As you probably know, Twitter retirements are about as reliable as snap decision retirements in the cage right after a fight, so Ben al-Fowlkes tracked Riddle down and got him to expand on his decision past 140 characters. And in typical Riddle fashion, Matt had some interesting things to say:
“I’ve had multiple surgeries,” Riddle said. “I get cut open, I’m in pain, and I can’t even pay my f—ing bills. People know who I am and I’m on TV all the time, but I can’t pay my f—ing bills, so who cares? What kind of sport is this? What’s the point of being in it if you can’t even make money? Especially a sport where you get torn open, get brain damage and bleed? And then people give me s–t because I’d rather retire and get a real job. At least that way I’ll get a check every week and not worry about someone trying to cut my face open or knock my f—ing teeth out.”
“You get hurt and can’t fight? Nobody cares,” Riddle added. “They just stomp on you. People get on their keyboards and talk s–t about you. Even if you’re in the top 10, top five in the world, people talk s–t about you. It’s a trash sport, people trash us all the time, we don’t get paid s–t and it’s like you lose one fight and people say you should quit fighting anyway. Why would I want to be a part of that? I’m tired of it.”
“I’m just tired of the unethical people, the scumbags, all that,” Riddle said. “Maybe that’s how all businesses are run, but in MMA I’ve been in the UFC, Legacy and Bellator. The UFC was the best, and even they didn’t treat you that well. It just gets sh–tier on the way down. I’d rather get a real job, do some [jiu-jitsu], get my black belt and compete in some tournaments. And maybe I will fight in a year or two. But right now I’m so fed up with the people that run this sport, I don’t want anything to do with it.”
Nothing too out of the ordinary in the above rant, really. About what you’d expect from a guy whose best days are behind him and who has now basically burnt his bridges with the only two organizations offering livable salaries to fighters in North America. If I was gonna use one word to describe his general tone, I’d say “Defeat.”
That didn’t stop Dana White from appearing on UFC Tonight to dismiss Riddle’s anti-UFC opinions and gloat over what a dumb jackass Matt is. That inspirational video after the jump.
Here at Fightlinker, we’ve shat upon the stupid head of the Ontario Athletic Commission’s grand poobah Ken Hayashi numerous times over the years, basically because he’s a big stupid jerkface and his so-called commission is a joke. This week, the Canadian MMA Law Blog (sadly not written by Bob Loblaw) has dug up a couple more examples of the OAC’s dumbness.
There hasn’t been a whole lot of heat generating behind September 21st Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson fight. A lot of people don’t think The Mauler has a chance of beating Jones, and the best marketing the UFC has done is point out how Gustafsson is a little taller than the champ. From there we had a decent staredown during the World Tour and Alex trying to channel some of Chris Weidman’s iron conviction, but that’s been about it. Until today, where Gustafsson took things to the next level and got personal with Sweden’s Kimura site:
He’s a little brat in an adult’s body. A very immature boy in a grown man’s body. It is Jones. It is not always that a person is himself in front of the cameras, and there you have Jones. Are you with him for a week, as I did at UFC World Press Tour … he way you behave. He is a real bully. It’s like you give a shit kid everything. Why do not you speak up, you just say yes, yes, everything that a kid ask for. Since there are no limits. It is all haywire. No, his behavior then … No, I’m not a fan of it if I say so.
He throws out the stupid comments. We would do an interview together in England. Me and Andrew (Michael) had to sit and wait for Jones was delayed. When he comes in 45 minutes late, he asks not even apologize. Neither me or to those who would do the interview. I am a professional and have great respect for Jones as a fighter. There are not many who can do what he has done and he deserves all the respect. But as a person, as a role model, I’m really not a fan.
Funny, half those reasons are the same ones fans throw out as to why they don’t like Jones. The same thing happened when Dan Henderson was supposed to fight Jones and called him ‘unauthentic.’ Everyone paused for a moment and then thoughtfully said “Yeah, that was the word we were looking for.” It’s a good thing he typically puts on an entertaining beatdown. That’s why I’m tuning in on Saturday … to see Jones dismantle another contender in devastating fashion. That, and to see Khabib Nurmagomedov sambo the shit out of Pat Healy.