Fight Master airs Wednesday nights on Spike TV.
Written by Chris Cox (@CoxFight), Contributing Writer
So let’s get you caught up. The Bellator Summer Series has started and is now in full swing. Bellator 96 went down two weeks ago, and the main card was nothing but knockouts and retirement parties. King Mo knocked out the Kimbo Killer Seth Petruzelli in stunning fashion in the main event. Babalu Sobral took a beating from Jacob Noel in what is the last time he will ever put the gloves on. He has been on a slump for a while, and you could see it in his eyes that he was done. The show was a great card nonetheless, but that is not what has me so stoked with Bellator. What does have me excited is what they are doing on Wednesday nights.
If you are a long time MMA fan, then you know all about The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) that is produced by the UFC. It has been quite prominent and produced a couple of champions for the organization, as well as bring in a multitude of fans. With Bellator being the only true surviving competition to the UFC, it is taking the same route with their new reality TV program known as Fight Master. It essentially has the same format as TUF, with fighters living in the same house and competing for a check and a spot in the Bellator Welterweight Tournament. That tournament will get underway when season nine of Bellator commences in September.
Do not be confused, though, because this show is not just a straight copy of TUF. It takes a different approach with its competition style and by putting a focal point on the coaches. In TUF the coaches are fighters who fight at the end of the season at a live event, and it somewhat becomes a huge marketing campaign for that match-up. Fight Master adapted a different style by first choosing four coaches. Only one of them is a current Bellator fighter in Joe Warren, two are retired MMA veterans Randy Couture and Frank Shamrock, while the final coach is the internationally renowned Greg Jackson.
Fighters first earn passage to the house with an introductory fight in front of the coaches. Coaches talk amongst themselves during the contests, grading the fighter and deciding if they would want to train them. The winner of the fight is then presented to the coaches, and this is where its gets different from TUF because the fighter chooses where he wants to train. They are given control and the chance to choose what they think would be the best route to win. I immediately fell in love with this idea. There are times in TUF when some fighters should not have been sent to certain teams because they just do not fit that coach’s style, and this concept prevents that from happening.
In Fight Master, they choose their path, whether the coach wants them or not. Coaches can go into a whole speech on why they want them or why the want nothing to do with them. The coaches are completely focused on the fighters because they do not have to worry about a fight at the end. When you are presented with that heavy lineup of coaches, it has to be a tough choice. All four of them know about earning championships and the pure ways to do it.
All of the qualifying matches have been very exciting so far, and the way the coaches take a stand is what is making this show so different. They are focused on the fighter and making them better. For new fans of MMA, it opens the sport up to them. Fans learn more about what goes into a match and quickly see it is much more complicated than just stepping into the cage. Game plans, technique, cardio and focus are all being displayed and discussed by the coaches. We are only two episodes into this debut season of Fight Master, and I already have high hopes for it. It is going to be interesting once the qualifying fights are done and we see how exactly the competition is going to play out.
I want Fight Master to succeed because I want Bellator to succeed and stay neck and neck with the UFC. I am a MMA fan. I want to see it displayed in as many forms as possible. The UFC is still on its cutting spree, and people are receiving pink slips after every card. These fighters have to land somewhere, and I hope it is Bellator. I talk so highly of MMA and boxing because they never stop. There is no offseason. There is non-stop action all throughout the year. The only sport happening right now to most people is baseball while they wait for football season to get started. If Bellator and the UFC are able to maintain a high level of competition for a long time, it will do nothing but benefit the sport. The UFC has big marquee match-ups, but Bellator has the most exciting tournament in sports.
If you have yet to give Fight Master a shot, I strongly suggest you do. It has something for the long-time MMA fan, and it is great for the new fans as well.
And as always, stay tuned to Resolution Sports for all of the latest from the MMA world!