“I would like to see him show up a little more for his guys…guy showed up [to] half the practices.”?
Thus Urijah Faber laid out his chief complaint about Conor McGregor’s coaching style (or lack thereof), in their “testy” joint interview to kick off promotion for the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter. In a session where Faber did little but sing McGregor’s praises (while hardly receiving similar treatment), the dig stuck out as particularly sincere. And it became even more convincing when teammate T.J. Dillashaw repeated it on Monday:
“He was hardly there. He didn’t even really show up. He was just there for the weigh-ins and fights it seemed like. He wasn’t there for his team at all.”
Here we see a clear story line developing: McGregor’s head has gotten too big for his own good, he’s just in it for a paycheck, he doesn’t care about anyone but himself. Clearly, if you were Conor McGregor, it would be in your best interest to take to the media and rebut this immediately.
Or, come out and confirm ahead of time he doesn’t plan to attend a single training session, and furthermore that the whole idea of TUF is “bullshit.” You know, either/or.
And you know what? To this fan’s ear, all of McGregor’s points ring true. Does anyone really think that fighters who spent years perfecting their craft are going to pick up some amazing new skill sets in less than six weeks? Or that professional athletes are going to be duped into loyalty to a “team” whose members will all be fighting each other once the quarter finals begin?
I’m willing to give this season of TUF a chance, but even with the McGregor persona driving it, my expectations are low. While each successive season moves the quality needle up and down, the trend over the past ten or so has been steadily declining, and most of this can be attributed to the UFC’s own success.
See, the appeal of the early TUF seasons was that many of the show’s participants were anything but professional. Many of them were early enough in their training to make great leaps in ability in the house, but most of all their mental games were undeveloped. They got emotional, they failed to make weight, they got drunk and pissed in…well, you get the idea.
But now, there’s too much at stake. MMA is a mainstream sport, and the talent pool just below the UFC has reached a level where the fighters will (mostly) no longer sabotage themselves with such shenanigans. The production crew knows this, which is why every season they try to inject some fake drama into the mix. But there’s only so much they can do to distract us from the fact that we’re seeing what amounts to one UFC fight with a fifty minute intro sequence per week.
My advice? Accept that the era is over when “up and coming MMA prospect” and “good reality show contestant” overlap, and move on to better things. Like this reality show that Dana White is apparently filming with Matt Serra:
Yeah, it might not be introducing us to the next generation of fight stars, but man, I’d watch a show similar to that clip for an hour a week. Or two or three. Hell, if you started a 24 hour network showing only Serra, White, Bruce Buffer in full party mode and various other MMA guest stars jetting around the country doing whatever the hell they wanted, I’d probably have it on more often than not. At its worst, could it really be as bad as TUF: Latin America?