Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The beast has been freed from his cage......

By now, everyone's heard about what happened after Brock Lesnar defeated Frank Mir at UFC 100. Lesnar had a flashback of sorts to his brief WWE career (2002-04) when he flipped off the crowd and disrespected a sponsor, among other things. UFC President Dana White took Lesnar aside and virtually took him to the woodshed, prompting an apology out of his champion.

But in the aftermath, there is one glaring truth that White must deal with. He is going to run into this problem again and again in the long haul, as long as there are other wrestlers making a transition to UFC. Bobby Lashley doesn't feel he's ready for UFC yet, so he's working for a smaller MMA promotion. Smart thinking on Lashley's part. Current TNA Champion Kurt Angle, forever trading on his 1996 Olympic gold medals (which he counts among his world championships, but that's another story for another time), has claimed in interviews several times in the last three years that he wants to try MMA. With Angle's medical history, it's little more than smoke & mirrors. Kimbo Slice, the face of the now defunct Elite XC promotion, is angling to enter UFC by taking part in the next cycle of Ultimate Fighter. In White's eyes, that's the only way the internet phenom will enter his promotion, especially after Slice was exposed in a loss on Elite XC's final broadcast for CBS last November.

To that end, however, White exposes himself as MMA's answer to Vince McMahon of the WWE. UFC is the premier MMA promotion, just as WWE remains the lone major league of pro wrestling remaining. (TNA? Don't be ridiculous!) By forcing Slice to go through Ultimate Fighter, White is sending a message. He is letting personal opinions on certain fighters, such as Slice, cloud his judgment. Lesnar didn't have to go through this program to get into UFC, and he was a bigger name in terms of recognition than Slice. In his line of work, White should not, nay, cannot allow personal prejudices get in the way of long-term growth for his company.

When Lesnar entered UFC, Spike TV, UFC's cable partner, was able to generate crossover coverage by having Angle, among others, talk up Lesnar on TNA Impact. Lashley has appeared briefly on Impact, when they teased he was coming in to join Angle and his "Main Event Mafia" group, but hasn't been seen since. If he does go to TNA, I just don't see him being allied with Angle and his over-the-hill mob. Again, that's for another time. That TNA & UFC have not done enough business together in conjunction with Spike speaks volumes not of UFC, which gets bigger ratings for the network via Ultimate Fighter, but of TNA's corporate ineptitude, which knows no boundaries.

Would Lesnar eventually appear in TNA? I doubt it. TNA's more likely to fold its tent before Lesnar is even invited to attend a taping in Orlando. Of course, stranger---and in TNA's case, dumber---things have happened.


Samuel Wilson said...

I thought I'd left a comment some time ago, but I'll try again. In brief, Ultimate Fighter is how UFC builds stars, so it's hardly a dis to Kimbo Slice to appear on the program. If you think Kimbo should not have to earn a spot on a UFC card, Elite XC is an argument to the contrary. If Dana White had real animosity toward Kimbo, the man would not be on UFC television, period.

hobbyfan said...

I'm not saying that Kimbo doesn't have to earn a spot, it's the fact that this is an avenue to "legitimize" him as a MMA fighter. White felt that Slice, being an internet star, was more hype than anything else. Slice's 2 fights on CBS for all intents & purposes proved White correct. We'll soon see if Slice made the grade, since the tapings for the new season of Ultimate Fighter have been completed.