By Zach Arnold | March 30, 2011
On a night that turned out kind of interesting for MMA news (more on that later), Brock Lesnar’s debut on The Ultimate Fighter with Junior dos Santos largely proved to be free of emotional fireworks. I’m not sure where it sets the table for the rest of the season, but if show one is an indication of things to come then I suspect we’ll be seeing wins traded back and forth or Brock lose his mind with his guys losing (ala Ken Shamrock-style on the show). It’s pretty clear that Junior’s team isn’t hitting the skids.
The contrast between the two men was what you would expect. Junior pointed out in the obvious in saying that he values how someone performs in the cage for examining talent as opposed to Brock who focuses mostly on conditioning (and less on taking a punch, a preview that we saw during his ESPN media car wash.)
Brock was largely quiet and laid back. Erik Paulson is a great trainer but I’m not sure how things will play out during the season for him. JDS came across ridiculously relaxed throughout the show and incredibly likeable. The big question is whether or not casual fans stick with him or get bored because of his even-tempered style.
As for the first fight on the show (between JDS pick Shamar Bailey of Indianapolis and Lesnar pick Nordin Asrih), the less said the better. All that needs to be said is that Shamar used a lot of wrestling, pinned the guy down, and won by decision. He claimed he was holding back his best skills for later in the competition. That does not make for good television.
Onto more exciting news
Bad news (or good news depending on your point of view): Jon Fitch has reportedly withdrawn from his July 4th fight against BJ Penn due to a shoulder injury. Good news: Carlos Condit may step up as the replacement opponent. Initial reaction to a Penn/Condit fight — a lot of happy faces.
Bad news for Bellator: M-1’s telecast on Showtime last Friday from Virginia drew more eyeballs than Bellator’s MTV2 event last Saturday night (189,000 versus 150,000 viewers). The bad news for M-1 is that they aren’t back on Showtime until July 8th, but at least their ratings didn’t tank. UFC’s Spike show last Saturday night from Key Arena in Seattle, in comparison, did a 1.5 cable rating (2.4 million viewers). Dan Hardy was the ratings champ there. The obvious point to make regarding Bellator’s ratings on MTV2 is that the idea of moving the show around on Saturday nights and not having a consistent timeslot because you want to avoid running head-to-head against Zuffa is a bad idea. Yes, people who watch Bellator are aware of what is happening with the UFC. However, you can’t confuse your fans and make it a struggle for them to figure out when to tune in, how to find you on their DVR, so on and so forth. If accessing your show becomes any sort of challenge or requires any sort of effort (Americans can be lazy), it will hurt the ratings. If you’re a half-glass full person, I suppose you can say that Bellator retained 75% of their viewers despite the moving time slot.
I’m not a half-glass full person.
Half-glass full of fake urine bad news: Thiago Silva admits that he tried to alter his urine sample for a Nevada State Athletic Commission drug test that he had to take because of his UFC fight against Brandon Vera. Brandon, naturally, is rejoicing his good fortune.