For the most part, "The Ultimate Fighter" has been a rousing success. Aside from a few embarrassing bumps in the road the reality show has provided a free outlet on Spike for the UFC to develop and introduce fighters, and even produced some the elite on its roster.
Then there's that small downside. Just about every season, there have been incidents that have some people saying the show is bad for the sport. Between fights in the house and disgusting practical jokes, UFC president Dana White has been forced to intervene and decide if it was time for the participants to hit the road. No big deal, right? Well, that wasn't the case for Marine Sergeant George Lockhart. The 27-year-old beat out hundreds of prospects to make season 11 but when it came time to leave for the six weeks of taping he was denied the opportunity by the commanding general of Training and Education Command Brig. Gen. Melvin Spiese, according to the Marine Corps Times.
Plus, Spiese worried the barbaric behavior displayed by some contestants during past seasons could become a public relations nightmare for the Corps, reflecting poorly on Lockhart and the service, according to 2nd Lt. Brian “Scott” Villiard, a TECom spokesman.
Lockhart's been a Marine since 2001 and served two tours of duty in Iraq but he's also been a fighter since age 16, which includes a loss to UFC veteran Edwin DeWees at 18. Now, because of guys like Junie Browning, Chris Leben, David Kaplan, Jesse Taylor, Dorian Price and Jon Koppenhaver, Lockhart has been denied his dream for now.
"I can’t speak for anybody else, but I can tell you that here at the MACE, as long as they are doing their job, if they want to participate with MMA on their own time, I don’t have a problem with it as long as they maintain our Corps’ standards,” retired Lt. Col. Joseph Shusko told the Marine Corps Times. "I don’t think my guys would ever cross that line because they don’t want to ruin what they have in regard to representing our country, our Corps and everything."
Marines like Brian Stann and Luigi Fioravanti eventually got their chance. But for now Lockhart will have to wait and wonder, what if?
- George Lockhart