27 September 2007

Matt Hughes Has Lost His God-Damn Mind

Dana White came up with a brilliant scheme to enhance the ratings of his fight organization, the UFC. The reality show, The Ultimate Fighter sucked in viewers and helped them get connected to some of MMA's (that is mixed martial arts for you un-initiates out there) rising stars. The marriage of SpikeTV and the UFC has been great for the sport. As the number of UFC fight nights increase- that is non-pay-per-view events on regular cable-so too will viewer attachment to the personalities of the sport. MMA is rapidly becoming like boxing and that is a good thing. Not all boxing fans can box, most of them in fact cannot and have never been in a boxing gym nevertheless, interest in the sport remains high. MMA events often languished as an event only for people who aspire to be in the sport. Now thanks to some savy promotional efforts all that has changed.

And that brings me to this season of The Ultimate Fighter and one of the team coaches, current middle weight champion Matt Hughes. As a fighter and a coach, Hughes is easily one of the best in the business. Or so I thought until last night. He is still one of the greats in the octagon, but man he went off the deep, god-damn end last night when he instituted a bible study hour.
"I want you guys to study the book of Ester. And tell me who do the people in that story remind you of here?" I think that was his theological jumping off point. He was gracious enough to tell them, now you don't have to read it if you don't want to." It was with that comment that I thought about the immense ostracizing potential that situation had. Say 1 in 10 people don't believe God then you have managed to create an environment where at least one person suddenly doesn't belong.
That one person appeared to be my new hero Mac Danzig. Who walked off and slept on the edge of the ring for the hour his training time was wasted while his teamates learned about talking snakes and positively verbose and incindiary shrubbery.
Okay those things aren't in the book of Ester but the point I want to make is that bible is a damn silly book.
As the tediousness of Matt's bible hour wore down to a close Coach Matt approached the prone Mac and said "Now..you don't have to read it, but I you know...it is an interesting book."
Mac slowly pulls off his hood and gives a polite nod, (the man I wish this guy would knock off the god-damn prosylityzing nod). Matt must of have saw an opening that didn't exist and he said again, "Like I said, you don't have to, but it is a really interesting book."
Mac's response was brilliant. "Uh...its just a story."
In the personal vingettes, segments where the fighters get to chat about their views on the show, peers and coached in a more or less confidential way Mac elaborated.
"I didn't come to this show to get in touch with my fucking spiritual side. I came here to train and win a contract for the UFC. Not that bullshit."
Matt Serra, the coach of the opposing team, also echoed my thoughts when he learned of the Hughes bible study hour. He said, "What the fuck?"
Indeed.

At the end of each show the one fighter from each team is pitted against one another The two fighters have to fight to stay in the competition for the big UFC contract and to earn points for their respective teams. I was happy to see Serra's godless team win. Not because I think that proves athiesm is right, its just nice to not have to hear how it was God that gave the other team the win.
An interesting side note...Fighters swear as if the pasttime is in danger of going out of style. The often demean one another in an effort to gain obvious psychological advantages. I think it particularly hilarious that Team Hughes does this as much as Team Serra.

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