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Couple of things I noticed about last night’s TUF Finale show on Spike TV…

By Zach Arnold | December 14, 2008

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  1. It’s not a factor right now, but UFC is going to have to upgrade their production values over the next 1-2 years. The danger? They’ll end up like WWE and keep using the same production values for the past decade like that company has. Given how UFC has modeled itself after some WWE-style elements, they would wise to give their production staff a break and come up with some new, fresh ideas on how to change things up. Improvements are needed on many levels — including creative ideas (get rid of the Gladiator entrance, the now-generic “one guy talks, other guy responds” black/white promos, same format and layout of fights, etc.)
  2. Part of the production that desperately needs to change is the announcing. I understand that Mike Goldberg is a favorite of UFC management, and yes, he has hung out with Dana White before at after-show VIP parties. With that stated, his persona and schtick is older than dirt. It’s beyond parody at this point. There’s being a ‘carny’ and then there’s the level of carniferousness that Goldberg unleashed last night on viewers at home. Even judging his work on a sliding-scale, the most jawdropping carny of all carny-ish statements Goldberg made on the telecast involved Junie Browning and Chris Leben. Goldberg actually made the claim, without laughing on air, about how Chris Leben became a ‘reformed’ man after ‘graduating’ from the ‘TUF house.’ I’m serious. Chris Leben, a man who went to jail, a man who just failed a steroids test coming off of his last fight against Michael Bisping, and now we’re supposed to believe in the re-writing of history about who he is and what he’s done during his UFC career?
  3. Even though Todd Harris works with ABC Sports and college football for most of his professional schedule on Saturday nights, I would much rather see the less-experienced WEC announcer pick up more UFC duties when football season is in recess. The fans at home need a change of pace. Harris and Rogan could be a good combination. It would, in my opinion, create a more professional feel to UFC events.
  4. As far as I could tell (based on what I watched of the TUF Finale), there was no update on Yoshiyuki Yoshida at all. I bring this up because Mike Goldberg thanked the fans at the beginning of the telecast for the Fight for the Troops special, mentioned about the charity that money raised went to (brain trauma victims), and left it at that. I first thought about Yoshida when Goldberg did this intro, and was quickly reminded of it when Anthony Johnson managed to knock out Kevin Burns with a left high-kick. Thankfully for Burns, he was able to recover and stand back up for the winner’s announcement by Bruce Buffer. If Burns would have had to been stretchered out of the cage, would UFC have shown it? Not that I guess it matters, since practically no other MMA web sites even touched upon the way UFC/Spike TV covered the aftermath of Yoshida’s knockout at the hands of Josh Koscheck.
  5. I agree with site comments about the pacing of the TUF Finale being better than the Fight for the Troops show, but that to me is not saying a whole lot. What is saying a whole lot is the carnage on both shows in regards to some of the vicious knockouts and submissions. It’s been a pretty good week overall for matchmaker Joe Silva. Plus, they got a 1.4 cable rating on Spike TV for the FFTT special.
  6. For all the talk by certain MMA writers about Junie Browning and what a ‘great heel’ he was coming out of the TUF show, I thought it was perfect karma that Browning got such a tepid and lukewarm response from the Vegas audience when he came to the cage and during his fight. Compared to the reaction that Ryan Bader got from the same fans… An old lesson from pro-wrestling matchmaking — you can push and push a certain person as hard as you can and maybe the fans will eventually come around to accepting that person as a star, but most of the time those same fans can see right through the push and will, in the end, reject it.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 39 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

39 Responses to “Couple of things I noticed about last night’s TUF Finale show on Spike TV…”

  1. skwirrl says:

    I agree on friggin everything man.

    Here is one way how the UFC, (OR AFFLICTION!) can bump up the quality of their promos and fighter entrance video packages.

    HIRE FUCKIN GENGHIS CON… The guy is a goddamn wizard at giving video packages some emotional value. Literally right up there with the guy that made PRIDE’s old fighter entrance vids. I doubt you’ve seen it yet Zack since it only came out a couple days ago and I just stumbled on it last night, check out his new vid “The Fast Lane: Volumn 3” on his site. Hell if you haven’t seen his last one, “The Domino Effect,” check it out too. He’s always been a great HL maker but of late he’s really come into his own and I feel is professional level talent now. Boondock is also doing great work. Pull your head outta your ass major MMA companies and give these guys some video editing work. Its alot better than the old, played out, STUPID, gladiator schtick the UFC does.

    Check it Zack – its truly impressive work

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    I don’t think getting rid of Goldberg is the answer. Todd Harris is pretty bad when it comes to announcing MMA. He constantly messes up the words “shoot” and “shot”. He obviously has little knowledge of the sport and his learning curve seems to be very steep.

    I watched 3 boxing shows last night. HBO, Versus, and Showtime. All 3 had what some would consider more “professional” announcing teams. And all 3 telecasts almost put me to sleep. The UFC would be at danger of alienating their key fanbase if they changed the style of announcing.

    With that said, I have always thought the announcing team needed a 3rd member. Would love to see a “facts guy” who gave random tidbits on fighters and the fights throughout the contest.

    As for production values, I completely agree. They need to do a few things with their production:

    1. Have a big difference between UFC PPV’s, UFC Fight Nights, and TUF. The graphics and sounds are nearly all identical for all 3 (minus smaller acceptions). When I watch HBO BAD, I can tell the format is differen then HBO WCB.

    2. Graphics & Music. There needs to be an upgrade. I don’t mind the beginnings of the UFC PPV’s. However, there needs to be changes in other areas.

    3. 3rd Announcer – As I said before, I would love to see a 3rd announcer who gives “random facts”. This same announcer would also give pre-fight interviews like they did on the EliteXC telecasts. Only this announcer needs to be really good, because if he is bad, it just becomes a waste of time.

  3. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    Drunk posting: bad idea.

  4. e40 says:

    carniferousness is not a word.

  5. catch says:

    But it should be. I plan to start using it so eventually it enters the lexicon by virtue of common use.

  6. Jonathan says:

    I was there live and disagree re: Junie. He got a good response. Badr’s loud fanbase was made up of college friends and family.

  7. ilostmydog says:

    Why would the give an update on Yoshida? Do you want them to kick off every show by updating everyone on how everyone injured in the last show is faring? If anyone cares enough they’ll just hop on the internet to find out.

  8. Fluyid says:

    “Why would the give an update on Yoshida? Do you want them to kick off every show by updating everyone on how everyone injured in the last show is faring?”

    I would only hope that they might mention, at some point, those who appeared to be seriously injured.

    It doesn’t seem appropriate to do as you mention and “kick off every show by updating everyone on how everyone injured in the last show is faring,” but when a guy is out cold for such a long time and concerns over the guy’s well-being linger, it would be nice to hear from the most direct source about how the guy is doing.

  9. ilostmydog says:

    And on their website they mention that he was released from hospital after being diagnosed with a concussion. If people care enough to find out what’s up with him, they can.

  10. Chuck says:

    I agree about the UFC announce team (especially Goldberg). I MUCH rather most boxing commentators. Like on Versus that Huddle mentioned; the commentators were Barry Tompkins (VERY underrated commentator, IMO) and Wally Mathews (who is in the Teddy Atlas of the “straight shooting, doesn’t give a fuck and speaks his mind” school of commentating). I thought they were great together, and I hope Versus picks up Tompkins for good, because Fox Sports Net (Tompkins home) hardly ever does boxing shows anymore. The Showtime guys; Al Bernstein is probably THE BEST boxing commentator out there, and Steve Farhood knows his stuff. But Nick Charles…..he’s good, but he talks WAY too much! It’s like he gets paid by the word. Mike Goldberg is the same way.

  11. IceMuncher says:

    Put me in the camp that loves Goldberg. At least once a night there’s an exchange between him and Rogan that leaves me in stitches. It’s a personal taste though, so I’m not going to argue over the point.

    Speaking of production improvements, it’s good to see that the UFC is doing a 24/7 style promotion for Penn vs St. Pierre. They should have done it for Lesnar vs Couture fight, but better late than never.

  12. Grape Knee High says:

    So I finally got to see the TUF back episodes yesterday and understand what everyone was complaining about with the Junie Brown situation.

    First off, let me say that I agree that Dana is being a hypocrite and I do not agree with the way that Junie was being handled (ie, coddled).

    However, I think something everyone seems to be overlooking is that I do not think Dana necessarily kept Junie on to keep ratings high (and thereby encourage future contestants to act like morons). Spike, I’m sure, thought otherwise.

    Junie, in my eyes, is clearly the most talented 55er on this past season, and he was pegged by Zuffa as being the star of the show from the start. By being a moron, I believe he actually tied Dana’s hands because White saw a future star in Junie and did not want to simply kick him off the show and lose any momentum in his marketing. Sure, Zuffa must’ve liked some of his fireworks, but at the same time I’m sure they wanted him to keep things entertaining but not go so far that they had to consider throwing him out of the house.

    I believe they would have tried to make Junie a star, moronic behavior or not, and actually made Zuffa’s job more difficult by making them scramble to devise a stupid ploy to keep him on the show.

  13. Ivan Trembow says:

    As I wrote in the other thread about Leben: I am so sick of hearing the re-writing of history when it comes to Chris Leben. It was bad before his C-level kickboxing match against Michael Bisping, and somehow it has gotten even worse after he tested positive for steroids, as Mike Goldberg actually said on the show tonight in a serious, non-joking tone of voice that Chris Leben has been “a model citizen” since TUF.

    Really? A model citizen? Does a model citizen get arrested for drunk driving? After getting a slap on the wrist and no prison time for that drunk driving offense, does a model citizen fail to meet his court-ordered requirements to take certain classes (which is what he got instead of jail time) and instead move to Hawaii without fulfilling his slap-on-the-wrist requirements? Does a model citizen fail to inform his employer that he won’t be able to travel to the U.K. to fight in the PPV main event that he signed to fight in because of his outstanding arrest warrant? Does a model employee cheat by taking steroids?

    I might be more forgiving of this ridiculous re-writing of history if it was a one-time slip-up. But all of the above were things that Leben did before the Bisping fight (other than the positive steroids test result), and yet he was essentially portrayed as a model citizen in the build-up to that fight as well.

  14. Ivan Trembow says:

    Also, lol at this hilarious headline: Ultimate Fighter Finale Morning After: Bader, Escudero Are Stars; Browning Stole the Show (unless by “Stole Show” they meant “Stole Fight of the Might Bonus”)

  15. Dave says:

    Zach man, take a Xanax on the whole Yoshida thing. There are brutal knockouts every few UFC shows, and the general impression is ‘oh hey that guy got a concussion.’ What else is there to be said? I’m sure if he fell into a coma they would be quick to talk about it, but he didn’t. He was fine afterwards.

    They might as well start off every show talking about every injury from the last show then. “So and so was knocked out, concussion, so and so broke his arm in an armbar, etc.” They brought up the leg break because it is something really uncommon and was a freak accident that ended up making the media rounds and on celeb gossip sites like TMZ, etc.

  16. Zack says:

    Goldie is great comic relief.

  17. Ivan Trembow says:

    “However, I think something everyone seems to be overlooking is that I do not think Dana necessarily kept Junie on to keep ratings high (and thereby encourage future contestants to act like morons). Spike, I’m sure, thought otherwise.”

    You’re overlooking the fact that Dana White made it very clear in public interviews earlier this season (after Browning’s third incident that warranted being kicked off the show) that he (Dana White) has full authority on who does and does not get kicked off the show, and that everyone involved with the production was shocked when he didn’t kick Browning off.

  18. Grape Knee High says:

    Ivan, I’m not sure which part of my statements your comment was meant to address. That I don’t think Dana entirely kept Junie on to keep ratings high, or that Spike probably liked Junie’s antics?

  19. Ivan Trembow says:

    If the implication was that Spike kept Browning on the show, that’s what I was refuting. If that’s not what you were intending to say, then I apologize for misinterpreting your post.

  20. Michael Rome says:

    He kept him on because he liked him. Sam Caplan had some report saying they’ve been in close contact since the show.

    I have such a hard time getting worked up about this. It’s a damn reality television show, what a shock that people act out on them to get attention. Junie has by far the most star potential of anyone on the show, the fact that Bader and Nover brought whole cheering sections of fans to the show doesn’t prove anything.

  21. Grape Knee High says:

    Ivan, it wasn’t what I intended to say, but reading what I originally wrote, I think I wasn’t being very clear.

    I fully believe it was Zuffa that kept Junie on, it is just my opinion that while Spike probably liked his antics for ratings, Zuffa was just scrambling to do whatever it could to keep him on the show due to his level of talent (and the potential to be a future star).

  22. Grape Knee High says:

    Michael, it was clear from watching the last episode that Dana likes Junie. There was a level of mentorship and fatherly behavior there that you rarely see with Dana.

    What I was trying to do was divine why that would be. I truly believe that if Junie did not have the potential to be a future star, he would’ve been out of the show with his first errant swing. Dana likes Junie because he has the potential to make him a lot of money.

    Either way, you’re right, it’s not something over which to get worked up.

  23. Sean says:


    I just checked out your blog.

    While your writing is good, and you make some excellent points, I can’t help but notice that virtually everything is critical of the UFC. Is there anything about the company that you like??

    I agree with the comments folks have made that the UFC needs to change up production values, they are a bit stale.

    Regarding Leben: Yes, he got busted for rroids and Mike Goldberg made a dumb statement, but Leben is has really improved his overall life. I give him credit for going back to Oregon and facing the music regarding his violating probation. By all reports, he is a focused, clean guy these days.

    He did roids and deserves the penalty, but bringing up his old DUI is just stupid.

    He is not a model citizen, but he has worked to straighten out his life.

  24. Fluyid says:

    “Regarding Leben: Yes, he got busted for rroids and Mike Goldberg made a dumb statement, but Leben is has really improved his overall life.”

    There is NOTHING objective out there to support that.

  25. Ivan Trembow says:

    Leben went back to Oregon and faced the music only after he had no other choice, after his employer found out (and not from him) that he had an outsanding arrest warrant and would not be allowed entry into the U.K. That happened like six months ago; it’s hardly bringing up old business. It was also just this year that he cheated by using steroids.

  26. Dave says:

    If you are just going to criticize Ivan about ‘hating’ UFC you have missed the point, I think.

  27. skwirrl says:

    Ivan just isn’t a shill for the UFC like so many others online are.

  28. Sean says:

    Leben was a drunk with a ton of problems while living Oregon (including his early days in the UFC). He took the job in HI to get away from places and people. He sobered up and has focused both on training and teaching since then.

    He, along with TJ from Icon, tried to get the probation moved to the islands.

    Is he a “model citizen?” No, but those that know him know he has cleaned up quite a bit since those early days. A few pals of mine say he is a completely different person.

    If the UFC made him go to Oregon, good for them. It was my understanding that he went back in hopes of getting clearance to fight in the U.K. and it was his call.

    I never said Ivan was “hating” the UFC. I said he makes some excellent points, but that virtually every post on his site goes after the UFC. I am wondering why this is.

  29. Michaelthebox says:

    Sean, skwirrl: Trembow isn’t a UFC hater. He’s equal opportunity with irrational hatred. He’s just a hater in general.

  30. klown says:

    Ivan plays the role of watchdog, as does Zach and others endowed with critical thinking capacity. Stick to your guns, brothers.

  31. Zack says:

    Ivan is at least consistant with hating everything, not just the UFC. I think he was definitely a lifeguard in another lifetime…enforcing a no fun policy.

  32. Jonathan says:

    I don’t really understand Ivan’s goal here. Is there some petition out there to make sure reality television rules are enforced fairly? If not, perhaps that might be more productive? The UFC never played fair, bringing Leben back on the very first season because they wanted him to win. Complaining about it when it continues years later with Junie seems odd to me.

  33. Ivan Trembow says:

    I spoke out about Leben not being kicked off the show at the time as well. But comparatively, Leben certainly didn’t do five different things that warranted being kicked off the show.

    On a broader level of whether it’s “okay” or not for all of these Trash TV antics to not only be tolerated by the UFC and Spike TV, but actually encouraged and rewarded, it depends on what you’re looking at the show to do. If it’s just supposed to be gutter-trash television that draws a 1.3 rating instead of a 1.0 rating, then it’s justifiable. But using the UFC’s own definition of what the show is supposed to be (as Lorenzo Fertitta said to Spiegel Online, “People were surprised to find out that the fighters work hard, that they’re not crude thugs but great athletes, intelligent and with good manners”), it’s moving farther and farther away from that all the time.

    The idea seems to be out there that you need to have these kinds of Trash TV antics or else nobody would be interested in watching, but that is a false choice. It’s not a black-and-white choice between Trash TV and no show at all. Luke Thomas on Bloody Elbow put it better than I could: “There is an enormous universe of interesting content between watching fighters train and watching them ingest one another’s bodily fluids. It’s nothing more than a poverty of imagination and reliance on the lowest common denominator that prevents Spike’s producers from delivering that sort of content. Hopefully some of the pushback from this season will scale back the boorish nonsense we were subjected to this time around.”

  34. Ivan Trembow says:

    Also, on the discussion of Chris Leben and what he is or is not like now, I am glad that he is sober now and I don’t mean to downplay that being a significant accomplishment, because it is. I’m just saying that the whole portrayal of him in the lead-up to the Bisping fight as practically being a model citizen was a giant stretch, and then it was downright ridiculous for Mike Goldberg to actually say that he “is a model citizen now,” not long after he tested positive for steroids.

  35. Grape Knee High says:

    Condemnation of TUF for its idiocy is more of a criticism of low-brow American culture than it is of TUF, in my opinion. Everyone wants to think that what is “theirs” — in this case MMA — is above the gutter trash mentality of most other reality shows.

    Regardless of the Fertittas, White or Zuffa say or do, the reality is that TUF is worthless if no one watches. And sadly, the truth is that if they played TUF straight no one would watch. And TUF is worth more as a franchise and fan-recruiter for Zuffa as a popular, if low-brow, show than an unpopular one played straight.

  36. Dave says:

    Luke Thomas is probably the most boring and overly serious person involved in the world of MMA bloggers, quoting him for your money shot is just kinda ridiculous. I’m sure he is a nice dude, but just because other people overreact doesn’t mean you aren’t going overboard yourself.

    I don’t get what is so hard to grasp here; TUF made UFC. TUF made UFC through stupid antics, you can basically credit Chris Leben with the MMA boom for his antics. People aren’t watching TUF for “pure sport” or anything else like that. They are watching it to see guys piss on each other’s beds.

    Also, that is how fighters are. Fighters are immature jock dudes looking to one up each other. Put them in a house and you get pranks. It happened in the Lion’s Den, why wouldn’t it happen in TUF houses? It is basically just a 13 week frat house.

  37. IceMuncher says:

    TUF gets exposure for the good fighters by getting people to tune in each week to watch guys like Junie.

    My gf watched it every week with me, mostly because of Junie initially, and by the finale she kept asking when her favorite guys from the house, Efrain and Kristof, would fight next so she could watch them.

    That anecdote is pretty spot-on in describing what happened with almost every single person that became UFC fans by watching TUF. They like the entertainment, but become fans of the best fighters in the house.

  38. dave2 says:

    The UFC is going to have some problems with their international expansion after what went done on TUF. Dana was banking on Nover to be their Filipino star and now he lost to an underdog and is no longer undefeated. The fact that Nover now conveniently calls himself Philippe the Filipino Assassin even though he used to pronounce his name in an Americanized way early on TUF and didn’t have the nick name shows just how insincere Nover is. Apparently Vera is popular in the Philippines but I’m still skeptical about how warmly accepted born and bred Americans with Filipino ancestry are going to be accepted over there. The fact that MMA fans on the internet were trying to make it out like Nover could be MMA’s Pacquiao is a joke. Even Denis Kang, who IS accepted by Korean fans, doesn’t come close to the drawing power of a korean national like Akiyama or HMC. Kang is good enough to headline a Spirit MC show but if the UFC is serious about Korea, they need Akiyama. And if the UFC is serious about the Philippines in 2009, they need to find a solid Filipino national fighter. Vera and Nover aren’t going to cut it.

    At first I figured that a Efrain victory would be good for UFC expansion in Mexico since Efrain was born in Mexico and is much more genuine than Golden Boy and Huerta. But Efrain fights a very American collegiate wrestling style as opposed to the scrappy aggressive style that Mexican fight fans generally identify with. But at least putting him in Mexico would be OK whereas playing up Huerta’s heritage in Mexico would be a joke almost up there with Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis. When it comes to building international stars, the UFC really has their work cut out for them.

    The Junie push takes the cake though. Junie will lose to a good fighter, lose his temper and then wash out of the UFC. I just don’t see what’s so amazing about him. Another over-hyped fighter like Nover.

  39. Ivan Trembow says:

    In response to Michael Rome’s post, we disagree about Browning, but I think you and I do agree on where TUF needs to go in the future. I couldn’t agree more when you wrote this on Bloody Elbow:

    “I think the show does need to change, but a straight-ahead training version of what they have now would be boring as shit and lose viewers. They need to do about 10-15 of house/training, 15 minutes on background and story of each guy and who they are, and then the fight. All these guys tend to have interesting backgrounds, it’s time to focus on them.”


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