Josh Gross gets Frank Mir to admit what an embarassment the behavior was this past season:
The message “as long as they act like a moron, an idiot, that they get to have [television] time and face time equals money,” didn’t get lost on Mir.
“They don’t need to put time into fighting,” said the heavyweight, who picked Browning, a lightweight, to represent his team, but pulled no punches in wishing he hadn’t. “I hear more people talking about Junie Browning than Phillipe Nover and Efrain Escudero,” the two lightweights in the hunt for the UFC contract. “That’s an insult to those two fighters.”
Nover, who UFC President Dana White believes could be the next Georges St. Pierre, and Escudero, an undefeated prospect out of Arizona, join light heavyweights Ryan Bader and Vinicius “Vinny” Magalhaes in the race for the reality show’s prize (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, Spike TV).
Their talents, however, haven’t tempered discussion of Browning’s alcohol-fueled actions — starting fights with nearly everyone in the house; throwing a cup that shattered and cut another fighter; having to be restrained by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Mir’s counterpart this season) after jumping the Octagon fence following a fight he didn’t have a hand in; and continually disrespecting anyone within earshot with language that would make White blush — or the decision by producers to make him a focal point of the show.
“I think it sent a bad message,” Mir said. “I hope it gets interpreted the right way. Fighters aren’t allowed to act this way.”
Well, most fighters. Mir felt so strongly that Browning was the antithesis of “mixed martial artist” that he prevented his 16-year-old son from watching the season’s final two episodes.
“This is not what you want to be,” Mir, pointing to Browning, said to his boy. “This is the exact opposite of what you want to strive for and be as a man.”
“I realize that Spike has to sell TV time, and I understand that’s part of the whole game, but as far as me as a martial artist I find it an insult,” said Mir, who fights Nogueira on Dec. 27 for the UFC interim heavyweight title and a chance to meet Brock Lesnar in 2009.
“I guess those things aren’t interesting for television to other people,” he said. “But seeing a bunch of guys do crazy things back and forth is interesting, and I knew that. This is more than just a fight, it’s also about television ratings.”
I disagree with Mir that there is an inevitability to it all. There is an enormous universe of interesting content between watching fighters train and watching them ingest one another’s bodily fluids. It’s nothing more than a poverty of imagination and reliance on the lowest common denominator that prevents Spike’s producers from delivering that sort of content. Hopefully some of the pushback from this season will scale back the boorish nonsense we were subjected to this time around.
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