Judge Cynthia Boris takes off the kid gloves and goes head-to-head with the mixed martial arts masters of UFC Presents The Ultimate Fighter: Season One
Sixteen men from across the Americas travel to Las Vegas with one dream, one goal—to become The Ultimate Fighter.
They punch, they kick, they slam each other to the ground—and that's just before they leave the house! Each of these sixteen guys is out to prove the same thing: that he is the best mixed-martial arts fighter on the planet! A combination of Survivor, The Real World, and the WWE, The Ultimate Fighter gives you plenty of sports action along with the angst and agony of defeat. Get out the bandages, guys, because UFC Presents The Ultimate Fighter: Season One.
Facts of the Case
The UFC began in 1993 but didn't really catch on in the U.S. until 2001. The goal was to find a fighter who embraced all forms of combat, from martial arts to wrestling, boxing, and more. It was a tall order, but I'll be darned if they didn't get it done. The UFC brand is on its way to becoming a major competitor to the often mocked WWE by combining the tried-and-true sport of boxing with the flash and flair of a top-notch Martial Arts competition. In its early days, UFC was all about the matches. Staged in Vegas for Pay-per-View, they played out like any other major sporting event. But like its close cousin the WWE, UFC has more recently added drama to the sport.
In 2003, UFC champs Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, and Tito Ortiz hit the big screen when they performed a fight scene with Jet Li in the movie Cradle 2 the Grave. This huge, no-holds-barred battle inside a cyclone fence cage grabbed hold of movie audiences and helped push the UFC brand to a mainstream audience.
Fast forward to 2005, where Couture and Liddell act as coaches to a pack of wannabes in a new reality TV series. Sixteen men start out at the UFC National Training Center in Las Vegas, where they are truly put through their paces. Brutal conditioning is followed up by one-on-one training with experts in a variety of combat styles. The team members are divided into two weight classes, and those classes are divided over the two teams. Over the course of seven weeks, the teams train and compete in a weekly challenge. The challenge winner gets to choose which fighters will face off in the "Octagon"—one of which will be eliminated in battle and sent home. The two remaining men are then pitted against each other in a final match to determine The Ultimate Fighter.
The teams are:
Team Couture (Light Heavyweight)
Team Couture (Middleweight)
Team Liddell (Light Heavyweight)
Team Liddell (Middleweight)
So it goes: The weak are eliminated. The strong will survive. Only one will be left standing from each weight class…The Ultimate Fighter.
The Ultimate Fighter begins with all the elements of a typical reality series. Sixteen guys from various backgrounds (with various levels of ego) are put into a plush house in Vegas, where they must eat, sleep, and play together when not at the gym. Like all of its predecessors, The Ultimate Fighter makes good use of hundreds of spy cameras located throughout the house. Just to get things rolling quickly, it supplies the guys with a fully stocked bar. As anyone who's ever lived with roommates can tell you, it's the small things that niggle away at the fighters. From household chores, such as why no one ever takes out the trash when it's full, to larger pranks, such as soaking an already upset (but sleeping) Chris with a garden hose, it doesn't take long for things to heat up.
Frankly, I thought I would be put off by the reality series antics as the guys go on three solid weeks of nothing but each other for company. But I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I was drawn in by the overblown and somewhat comical emotional outbursts, and I admit to being amused by Chris Leban putting his hand through an expensive glass window pane. It's car crash mentality: You shouldn't gawk, but you do. I guess we're all human in that way.
It takes several episodes before the show settles into its promised routine of train, challenge, and fight. People get injured, egos get bruised, and there's more than a little vomiting (okay, could have lived without that). Guys who are supposed to be training for the fight of their lives are routinely drunk and up creating havoc at two a.m., making me wonder at times if I hadn't accidentally switched the channel to Animal House.
Antics aside, these guys really put it out there. Just the concept of being able to box, then wrestle, then take out your opponent with a flexible martial arts move is amazing. And though I'm told there are rules when the actual fight begins, I couldn't see it. Except for the lack of biting, these fights sure look like anything goes.
This is five-disc set features the original thirteen episodes—uncut, untamed, and uncensored! Yes, you heard me. All that stuff that was bleeped on TV is left intact on this DVD. There is so much foul language that I wondered how it could have hit the airwaves in the first place, since a few scenes would be nothing but one long bleep.
In addition to the series, there are three hours of bonus materials. Most of this is taken up by preliminary fights and fighter profiles. The most interesting feature on the DVD is the close-up look at a few of the specialized training sessions with the top men in the field. Boy oh boy, the pros sure make it look easy.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
If you like your sports without soap opera drama, you'll want to fast forward to the end of each episode and watch the fights. Better yet, skip this set and invest in a couple of Pay-per-Views. The Ultimate Fighter is much more about the attitude and the angst than it is about who's the better fighter (which I imagine in some books is a point against the series). And if you're thinking of viewing this DVD with your kids you may want to think again, because it is loaded with foul language and bad habits.
I'll admit I had an ulterior motive for asking to review this DVD. My teenaged son adores the show and begged me to do it so I'd be forced to watch it with him (I had sloughed off watching it when it was on TV). It wasn't that I had any real distain for the series. I actually was on the set of Cradle 2 the Grave when they filmed that huge match, interviewing the stars for Inside Kung Fu magazine—so I had (and have) a great appreciation for UFC fighters. No, my real objection was the reality series wrapper that incased the series. I had no interest in watching men get drunk, call each other names, and pee on each other's bed (yes really). So it was my son who got the last laugh when I got totally sucked in. "He is such a loser!" I yelled at the TV. "Oh, please, tell him to go home to mommy." "What is that guy's problem, anyway? He totally instigated that whole fight!" Like I said before, I put it down to car crash mentality. You know it's gruesome, you know it's not nice to gawk, but you gotta—it's only human.
I hereby find UFC Presents The Ultimate Fighter: Season One guilty of drawing me in with their reality show antics! I sentence them to a second season—which will undoubtedly top the first.
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Scales of Justice
• Finals preliminary bouts
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