Thursday, June 21, 2007

TapouT on versus

You know, during the WEC event recently, they were heavily hyping promos of the show TapouT, featuring the people who run the eponymous clothing store travelling and interacting with fighters while running their business. The premise is they're looking for fighters to sponsor, tho I'm not too sure how that works out in practice, as so far two of the three episodes I've seen feature fighters from established camps and with relatively decent records. My first reaction was "Wow, that looks ridiculous", mainly because of the three hosts, "Mask" "Sky Scrape" and "Punkass". Mask wears face paint. All the time. Anyways, the show looked like a joke. But then I read Sam Caplan's rundown on 5 oz. of Pain and thought I'd give it another shot.
I'm going to spoil episodes so don't read any further if you don't want to know. I watch most MMA on DVR except UFC events, so I assume I'm behind everyone.
The episodes featuring Damacio Page and Matt Major have some interesting items, some feeling more staged than others. The staged bits feel like mini-infomercials, as much of the show does. Everything possible has a tapout logo on it, including the crotches of the models Mask shoots some catalog pics of in the first episode. The crew does some business, running a warehouse and acting confused by where things are. Then Mask calls Greg Jackson, one of the most well-known MMA trainers in the country, and asks if he has a fighter in one of the light classes who's "tatted up" and hispanic. Wouldn't you know, he does! There's a funny moment where Mask is going on and on about what he's looking for, then realized the call got disonnected. When he gets Jackson back on he tells him he's got just the guy.
The interesting part is when they show up at the gym, and You see the fighters working, with their coach instructing. At one point Diego Sanchez is chatting about his personal philosophy, which is kind of a lame and uninspired "Kill or be killed", as if that's some revelation. Page himself is smaller, tatted up hispanic guy. They decide he's driving with the Tapout kids from New Mexico, where Jackson's gym is, to Iowa, where the promotion is being held (It's Extreme Challenge 74, by the way. It looks like it was a regular card mixed in with a four-man tournament). Page's opponent's nickname is "The Mexicutioner", which makes me giggle. Page utterly destroys this kid, with a KO coming by way of elbow from the mount after nearly breaking his arm with an armbar. The other guy is a hometown boy, and Page is greeted with near silence up entering and leaving the cage. The real reward for Page is watching his opponent get helped gingerly making his way down the stairs, his cornermen saying "One at a time, one at a time". Like he's going to go skipping down stairs after getting his head nearly clean plucked from his body by a completely viscious elbow.
The last episode I watched featured Chuck Liddell's personal assistant Antonio Banuelos, the Iceman himself, John Hackelman (Chuck's trainer and longtime MMA legend, proprietor of The Pit), and a number of smokin' hot ladies. Chuck Liddell has a stripper pole in his house. And the base is all scuffed up from use. I'm going to pray it's chicks, because the thought of Chuck on that pole makes me a little woozy with dismay. This kid Banuelos is really endearing, he speaks earnestly and gets super-hyped for his bout. They show him talking about his past, training, doing his work ("I'm basically Chuck Liddell's bitch"), cleaning jocks ( don't need to see that again, by the way, TapouT crew), etc. They also show him going through cutting weight, which is intense. The fight itself is a tough one, and he gets caught by a wild uppercut in the scramble and flash-KO'd by Valencia, who all the people on the show say is "Really tough". Banuelos runs to the locker room and is quite emotional. Not quite "pulling a Wang" emotional, but close. To me it looked like he got hurt by Valencia's power and never really recovered. The KO came after Banuelos nearly secured a choke. Watching Chuck trying to console a fighter was fascinating, frankly. You never see the losers on most MMA shows outside "The Smashing Machine" and The Ultimate Fighter, and then it's pretty short. "That little bastard" crybaby Matt Wiman comes to mind. The TapouT crew is kind of silly too, with too many "Bro"s thrown in for my comfort. That's the emotionally skurred word to use when you're dealing with a man who's hurting but you're terrified of sounding like you have or understand feelings. "Bro, it's cool" "I was like bro, bro" "Brobrobro". Bro?
The thing is, even the obnoxiousness of the hosts in some cases doesn't take away from the fact that we're getting a look at the regimen and dedication these fighters need to prepare for a fight. The one exception was the Matt Major episode. This kid looks like an idiot. He was basically fighting a large brown marshmallow and was dead set to show off how well he could do spinning kicks. So instead of listening to his corner and finishing the guy, he lets it go to the cards. He wins, but seems to be more concerned with his own coolness than with winning. Add to that a near brawl after he gets in a much smaller man's face in the dressing room (kudos to the smaller guy for not backing down), yelling "Do you know who I am?!" Who cares, jerk. Frankly, guys like that piss me off, and they usually end up in jail. Or getting K'd the FO.
Overall, I'd recommend watching an ep or two, give it a shot. If you've got the DVR grab it. Try to get past the foolishiness of the opening credits and get to the actual fighters. That's where the meat in this sandwich is.

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