Final Fight - April 15
When Joe Van GInkel asked me to help him cover the finale of the Ultimate Fighter, I thought it would be cool, but I didn't think too much of it at the time. As I wasn't able to catch all of the shows when they first aired, I sat through the entire marathon of the shows on Spike TV.
I thought the series itself was ok, as there were things that I liked and disliked. What I liked? I was pleasantly surprised by the actual strategy that is involved in UFC matches. The characters (well, most of them) were both likable and compelling. Most of the show was based on actual fighting instead of superficial drama, and the drama that we did see either led to a match or resulted directly from one.
What I didn't like? The dismissal of 2 people without them even able to fight was silly, and I have yet to see a fighting show that does the player vs. player elimination correctly - but The Contender (with a system that guarantees that everyone competes the same number of times) has come the closest. There was drama, but it seemed like it came more from people's stupidity than anything else.
To sum it up, it was a decent series with a cool premise and characters who were colorful enough to keep it entertaining. I would have given it a B.
Then came the finale.
The finale was 3 live bouts stretched over the span of 2 and a half hours. It was more like 30 minutes of actual fighting and 2 hours worth of fluff and filler. After realizing that everyone else was fighting earlier on in the competition, I just wondered if it wouldn't have been too much to even have the results announced on the air (yes, the results were on the web site later), but it would have been nice to give those people recognition.
As for the fights that we were able to see, the first fight was to be expected, as Diego routed his opponent. Next up, we have Forrest Vs. Stephen. I was watching this wth Joe as well as conversing about it with people in the Palace (and let me give a shout out to the Palace People). We thought we were getting a good match. We didn't realize how the next 20 minutes had us all in awe.
We didn't see just a 'match'. We saw a battle of wills - a technical start that turned into a primal fight for survival and a 'Who Wants It More' attitude. At the end, Forrest wins it, but everyone who was watching the bout from The Palace all thought that the match should have gone into Sudden Victory and it was justified that both people got contracts.
What I witnessed was nothing less than amazing. I saw, in the words of Larry Zybyzko, a human game of chess. You got to see the psychology of the match and you saw how much more dimensional this was than boxing. What was even more impressive is that the referee and staff go out of their way to make sure that no one is hurt, as during the series and even in the main event, the ref stopped the match the second it looked like the competitor could not defend himself.
What I saw was the birth of a new potential cult sport exposed into a target mainstream audience. From the reaction that I got in the Palace and from other friends who saw this, I am not alone. It's possible that Spike TV, who has not renewed their contract with the WWE (who will be going to USA in the fall), may have agreed as well. Hopefully, they will have taken notice and instead of pulling a GSN (which always finds a way to mess something filled with potential up), will actually find a way to cultivate it and make it the next new must-see reality spectacle.
Due to the overwhelming popular response to my Chaos Theory column, I will continue to write mini Chaos Theory blurbs at the end of each column. We start with the departure of Nadia Turner. This is not a surprise, and neither was the dropping of Bo Bice at the bottom. Those 2 events will determine who is safe and who is in trouble. How so?
Nadia - Well, you did everything we told you NOT to do. You picked a song that no one heard of, you catered to...I don't know exactly who you catered to in particular, and both Vonzell and Anwar outperformed you. You should have at least learned from your stint on Star Search that song selection is everything. You'll be able to learn it again if 30 Seconds to Fame comes back during the Summer....or was that 30 seconds of Fame? Or was is just Fame?
Bo - You are probably the safest person this week. Based on all of the gasping that I heard, your fans were shocked to see you at the bottom and they will make sure that it doesn't happen again. Of course, this all changes if you suck, but you won't. To ensure it, go with something you know and sing the snot out of it. Give us some emotion, while you're at it as well.
However, because your fans will be voting for you, then they will obviously not be voting for other singers, who will see their votes drop to possibly dangerous levels. Who will be affected?
Vonzell - As one of only 2 R and B singers left - and the only female R and B singer left, you are quite safe. You need to continue to be creative and try to take some votes away from a suddenly vulnerable Carrie. Could you blast out a rock song? Now would be a good week to try to find out.
Anwar - Like Vonzell, you are in R and B, and it seems very unlikely that you would be affected by a Bo Bice vote swing. That being said, you are trailing Vonzell in the R and B vote and you need to outsing her. Stay in the high registers and pick something that is challenging. Above all, you have to outsing Vonzell, because when we get down to 5, you may be going up against her for survival.
Carrie - 2 weeks ago, I would have put you at the top of the safe list, but the past 2 weeks have seen you forget or mangle the words to the two songs you were performing. Fortunately, most of the audience who watches American Idol were born after those 2 songs hit ther heyday, so they probably haven't noticed, but the judges have - and they have called you on it. You can't afford the judges to call you out again - and you can't afford to screw up the words to a song that people actually do know, or you may lose some of that country vote to Bo. If you lose enough of it, added to the fact that most people assume that you are safe, you could see a trip to the bottom three for the first time.
Constantine - This week, we will get to see just how strong your fan base really is. Remember when we were talking about dichotomies? We are now up to the 2 rocker dichotomies, and most of the rocker audience know that Bo is in trouble, so they will vote for him. Who will they not be voting for? YOU. I am sure you thought of this ahead of time, hence the cross to pop - and I hope that you have collected enough pop fans. It is VITAL that you have your BEST PERFORMANCE EVER this week, because a bad performance + people assuming that you are safe (and then voting for Bo) could lead to this year's BIG UPSET - which would be you leaving. You are definitely in trouble this week.
Scott - If Constantine is in trouble, then you are REALLY in trouble. ALL of the fans knew that you were in trouble last week - and the best that you did was third to last. That also happened to Nadia, and she's gone. The only saving grace that you have is that I think you are going to get some of her vote. That being said, you HAVE to outsing Anthony, and you may have to outsing Constantine as well. You also have to hope that your past does not rear it's ugly head this week - and you MUST keep that temper down, or it will spell the end of you.
Anthony - This is where the the move to pop is really ging to help Constantine - and is really going to hurt you. If Constantine sticks around this week, it's because he has a pop fan base - the same base that you have. I think the split vote between you and him has greatly helped, but this week, thanks to Bo, that Pop base is what Constantine will be using - and be desperately trying to take away from you. You MUST outsing EIITHER Constantine or Scott to stick around, because you don't have the luxury of your audience thinking that you are in danger - since you clearly are.
To sum this up - Vonzell and Anwar should be safe, and although Carrie and Bo could be at risk, they should also be ok, barring either of them not doing anything stupid. Just due to the genre overpopulation, the three people who are clearly at risk are Constantine, Scott, and Anthony, and whoever of the three that performs the worst is likely heading home.
We'll see on Wednesday how accurate I am, and we'll also go back to retrogaming and look at your suggestions on games to bring back. I have already gotten some very good suggestions, and you have until Wednesday to turn in more of them.
Gordon Pepper can be reached at