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I bet you all thought I was just too busy masturbating to update the site today. While jacking it did take up a good half of the morning, we also got something productive done : our very own podcast. Hey, everyone and their dog has one so why not us? We’ve put together the test run of Fightlinker’s soon to be weekly podcast, the Low Blow. Chock full of the same ignorant and irrelevant commentary, we might not be very enlightening but we promise to be entertaining. The first show (or actually episode zero, as this version has no bells and whistles) weighs in at a svelte 32 minutes, perfect for listening to during a nice long shit or while waiting for your medication to kick in.

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Download the podcast here!

Things haven’t been going great ratings wise for the Ultimate Fighter reality show. TUF4: The Comeback started strong but quickly slid in the ratings, panned by the general public as the dryest and most boring season yet. The fighters were too cautious in and out of the ring, and it spelled for terribly dull television. So I can understand where Dana and the gang were coming from when they put together the fighters for this season’s iteration. 16 emotional, hot headed guys … just what the show needs to create drama and excitement.

Unfortunately this tweak to the formula has not helped TUF’s ratings, and it’s now stuck around a 1.2 rating share when Zuffa and Spike had been hoping for 1.5. To put these numbers in perspective, here’s a quick little summary of TUF’s ratings from Ivan Tremblow’s blog:

Over the course of its first five episodes, the fifth season of TUF has averaged a 1.2 overall rating. At the same point in each of the previous TUF seasons (five episodes in), the first season was averaging a 1.5 overall rating, the second season was averaging a 1.6 overall rating, the third season was averaging a 1.7 overall rating, and the fourth season was averaging a 1.4 overall rating.

While the ratings aren’t ‘terrible’ by any means (anything over a 1 is considered a success for a cable channel), one can’t help but wonder what has to be done to get TUF back up to it’s heyday and 1.5 ratings. Zuffa thought that adding drama back to the show would help, but it hasn’t. And already their plan to have Matt Hughes and Matt Serra as the coaches for season 6 has drawn indifference from the MMA community as a whole. If the show doesn’t have a few tricks up it’s sleeve, it might not be around for much longer.

So because I know everything and am fucking awesome, here’s my list of things I would do to shake up The Ultimate Fighter:

1. Get rid of the losers
This was one of my biggest gripes from season 4. Keeping the losers around is breaking one of the holiest of holy reality show rules. After a fighter is beat, he should be sent packing with his tail between his legs. This gives the fights a much bigger significance, and it also allows the show to focus on the remaining fighters. With 16 fighters in the house from start to end, it’s impossible to get to know anyone.

2. Get a new fucking backdrop
Get a new house. For that matter, get a whole new location. I’m sick of the TUF house, and I’m sick of the show taking place in the house and in the gym. Fly these guys around the world. Train in Hawaii for a week. Train in South America. Train in England. Train in Japan. Now that would be something every week that people would be interested to see. The format of “Hang at the house, train at the gym, pick a fight, fight, the end” is so stale I’d rather cut my penis off with a butcher’s knife than watch another season of it.

3. Bring back the challenges
Yes the challenges are stupid, but that’s the point. You force a group of people to compete in some stupid challenge because it’s entertaining for the viewer. Your color commentary guy is Joe Rogan for fucks sake. Feed those bastards cow testicles. Make them race up to the top of a 20 storey building. There’s thousands of challenges you could have, MMA-related or otherwise. Not only does it give the show back the variety it desperately needs, but it gets rid of the dumb ‘Hammer’ concept.

4. Ditch ‘the Hammer’
You hear this all the time. No, there is no physical hammer, but whichever team wins the fight gets ‘the Hammer’, aka the right to choose the next fight. And this is a terrible idea. Why? Because the first team that gets to pick the matchup always wins over and over again. In a sport like MMA, the game will always be fixed for whoever gets to pick the match up. And so the team that wins a fucking coin toss in episode 1 gets to string together a number of fights that would make Eddie Sanchez vs Mirko Crocop seem fair. How is that fun to watch?

5. Force the coaches to interact more
BJ Penn and Jens Pulver were good choices for coaches this season. They’re both likable and they both hate eachother. But past the first episode when they were picking teams, these guys haven’t really had the opportunity to get in eachother’s faces. There’s 1001 things the show’s producers could do to force these guys to deal with eachother. Again, if the hammer were up for grabs and there were challenges, this would change that dynamic greatly. Instead of having the teams compete in one episode, have the coaches compete.

6. Give the fighters rewards
Here’s a tried and tested one from the classic reality show Survivor, which ties into the challenges: rewards. Reward the fighters who finish their fights, reward the guys who train the hardest, reward, reward, reward. And don’t just give them money. Send them out on the town. Have them host a big party at a Las Vegas hotspot. Let them spend the day with their favorite UFC fighter. Again, this brings back the variety that the show is starved for. The fighters aren’t the only ones bored out of their skulls just sitting around the house. It’s boring fucking TV.

These are not big changes to the format of the show. With the exception of #2, all of these items used to be done but aren’t anymore for whatever reason. You might say that all this stuff takes away from the MMA aspect of the show. I say that so long as there’s a fight at the end of every episode, who gives a shit?

P.S. : The theme song’s got to go too.

Our bearded comrade has posted the following on his website:

I have sold my house and have sold or given away everything I own except my books and my memories. Great accomplishment requires great sacrifice. [This] morning we’ll be driving south to begin training.

Again I’m going to give you all a scoop: Evan Tanner’s official plan to win back the middleweight belt.

Step 1: Sell everything you own
Step 2: Drive south
Step 3: ???
Step 4: SUCCESS!

Hat Tip: UFC Junkie

With all the mishaps going on with the Gracie Fighting Championships this weekend, I’ve been overlooking MMA’s other big disaster event of 2007, K1’s Dynamite USA card. Let’s take a look at some of the wacky things going on with that:

Booking a 70,000 seat stadium: Proof that whoever’s in charge is smoking crack, smack, or some super combination called crasmack. Current North American MMA attendance record is held by the UFC at 19,000. Current North American K1 attendance record : 276 people.

Booking Brock Lesnar: Not that bad of an idea, but might be more successful if this was done 5 years ago when people knew who that was. Also would be better if Brock didn’t have a penis tattoed on his chest. Also not the best case for being taken seriously when your main headliner is a former pro wrestler.

Booking Hong Man Choi: The Hong is a big favorite around the world because he’s like 10 feet tall or something. Unfortunately no one in the US knows this, and they all assume asians are 5 feet tall max.

Booking Royce / Sakuraba 2: I know many media writers like to appear gentrified and say this was the best match in the history of mixed martial arts. But trust me: the average joe would hate this match. And while a always enjoy watching Royce Gracie get pummelled, after 60 minutes I passed out from sheer boredom. Lets ask the magic 8 ball how this 25 minute fight will end: A decision? Stupid magic 8 ball. The correct answer is that this fight won’t even happen because Sakuraba’s brain is a big pile of mush held onto his spinal cord by twist ties.

The undercard sucks: With Gina Carano KO’ed by Thai food, the undercard is stacked with talented but unknown fighters. The best names they have are Jake Shields and Johnny Morton. Which is bad. I’ve seen more star power at fairground brawls. Mind you it’s not every day you see Jake the Snake in a fairground brawl … personally I’ve only seen that twice.

They’re doing this in the US: The irony of all this is that if they did this card in Japan, they would get 30,000+ people easily. Lesnar vs Choi and Gracie vs Sakuraba are huge dream matches in Japan, but here they’re laughed at. Pro wrestlers, genetic freaks, and two former heros past their prime. Things American audiences just don’t go for, but the Japanese eat up.

As it stands, Dana White must be peeing his pants with glee as his competition continue to burn large piles of money trying to get even a quarter of the viewers the UFC does. It’s now a dogged three way race between K1, Bodog, and the IFL to see who can lose the most money the fastest.

Chris Leben says he can’t wait for his UFC contract to expire so he can use other promotion companies as leverage for more money. This again proves that Leben isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. So far his greatest contribution to MMA was popping the ‘boys don’t cry’ cherry on The Ultimate Fighter, paving the way for countless others to break out the ladyshines. Another notable career experience was being ground up and fed to Anderson Silva, a fight anyone with half a brain would have turned down. Past that his only noticable win was a razor thin split decision over UFC washout Patrick Cote. After getting choked like a bitch by Jason MacDonald he’s on the edge of being back in the dark matches, fighting at UFC71 against Kaleb ‘Smelly’ Starnes. So what’s his complaint?

“I hate to say it, but I’m counting the days on my contract- because then I’m going to be able to cash in with this contract because I signed a contract on the show [The Ultimate Fighter]. I just got a raise. I’m up to like $10,000 and $10,000 now after like 8 fights in the UFC. There’s going to be people that want to pay me a lot more money and hopefully the UFC will realize how great I’ve been for them and step up to the plate,”

First off, at 10/10 Chris would have made 80k last year not including bonus and sponsor money. Of course that’s chump change compared to the coin I make off this blog, but there’s a lot of better fighters doing far worse. Secondly, the last guy who tried to use another promotion as leverage to get more money from the UFC was Brandon Vera and we all know how that turned out. Third, this is Chris Leben, who washed out of TUF1 twice! If being a shitty crybaby loudmouth punk is all it takes to make big bucks with the UFC, then I’m packing my bags and heading to Vegas.

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