COMMENTARY | Fight Master: Bellator MMA aired it's second episode on Spike TV Wednesday night and the early word is that the ratings increased from a bit of a disappointing debut. This is Bellator's first step into the muddy waters of reality television and after two episodes it may be time to call an audible.
First of all, let me just make one thing clear, I root for Bellator to succeed. Bjorn Rebney was one of the first guys that I was able to interview when I first started covering MMA in 2009. Thus there is a small connection. I also appreciate the use of tournaments to determine number one contenders and the fact that the tournament format sets Bellator apart from the UFC. It makes them an alternative to the norm.
So you can imagine that I was excited to watch Fight Master's premier episode in hopes that it could spring Bellator a few steps closer to success.
As I was watching the show it was revealed that the coaches were not selecting the fighters but it would be the fighters that would select the coach they want to train under. Of course that was no revelation as that was one of the tag lines during the promotion of the show, but still, seeing how it would play out was intriguing enough.
I soon found myself texting a friend who is a fellow MMA fan. I tried to explain the fact that on Fight Master, the fighters would select the coaches. To that he replied, "so it is like The Voice?" Wait, what? While I had absolutely zero clue about the format of The Voice, my expectations lowered immediately upon this revelation.
Disappointed that what I hoped was an innovation was actually borrowed from another television show, I continued to watch hoping to see some of what MMA is all about, great fights.
However, for Fight Master it appeared that the shots just kept missing. The fights seemed to be glazed over in favor of airing the extended dialog between the coaches and the winning fighter during the selection process. This was interesting the first two times we went through it but it became dull and repetitive after that.
From the beginning of the show, Fight Master just seemed to be over-edited. The fights were cut. Then every single time a guy is about to utter the name of his choice for coach, they cut to a commercial. I realize that is done to build anticipation but the only thing that was built in me was frustration. Mix it up a little. Cut for one selection and stay with the next.
Another obvious edit was the order in which the coaches were selected. Now, it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility that the orders were not edited but it just seemed too likely to be the case. By the end of the first episode every coach had at least one fighter. If it is true that the order was edited, how could they take the reality out of a reality television show?
One thing that I do like about the show is the selection of coaches. Some fans have buried the choices but the reality is that each guy brings a little something to the show. Randy Couture and Greg Jackson are renowned coaches. Jackson is MMA's manager of champions and Couture is a two division UFC champion. Joe Warren is also a good coach and brings a little personality. The casual fan probably had no idea that Warren even coached at all. Frank Shamrock is, well, Frank Shamrock. Tons of experience and he has name recognition in the world of MMA.
Hopefully as Fight Master progresses they will shift more to a focus on the fights and the training of the fighters. It was a bit shocking how Fight Master ran right through the fights and made them feel like afterthoughts. Did Bellator forget that MMA fans tune in to MMA shows to see MMA fights?
Look, the show is only two episodes in and perhaps I am being a little harsh. We have to give it some time and see where it goes from here. You can watch Fight Master: Bellator MMA every Wednesday night at 9:00 p.m. central time on Spike TV. Give Fight Master another chance, I will.
Greg Garcia has been covering MMA since 2009 on various sites and has covered live events in Texas held by the UFC, Strikeforce, and Bellator. Read more from Greg here.
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