Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks
Friday, November 05, 2004
Mixed Martial Arts--- On Thursday night's episode of "WWE Smackdown" on UPN, the latest segment aired on Tough Enough, which this year includes a contestant named Daniel Puder who claims to be "a former Ultimate Fighter." What they've been doing so far with this edition of Tough Enough is having current WWE wrestlers come out every week and brow-beat the wrestlers for having the opportunity to win a million dollars without having really earned it or paid their dues. Last week it was The Big Show, and this week it was Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle. Angle got in the face of each of the remaining seven contestants as part of the story line and said he could kick all of their asses.
After having an impromptu match with one of the Tough Enough contestants and easily winning in less than ten seconds, Angle asked the other contestants if anyone else wanted a piece of him. Daniel Puder, who had said he was a "former Ultimate Fighter" just a few minutes earlier before Angle had come down to the ring, raised his hand to volunteer, and the crowd in St. Louis, Missouri popped big-time at the thought of seeing Puder and Angle in a "fight." This was still a pro wrestling match in the sense that they were cooperating with each other and not really trying to hurt each other, but they had Puder hold his own with Angle in the clinch for several seconds, prompting the crowd to break out in a brief but loud chant of, "UFC! UFC!" When the match went to the ground, Puder was going for a key-lock from the bottom but both of his shoulders were down and the ref counted to three.
Unlike the live Raw shows, Smackdown is pre-recorded two days in advance and allows WWE to regularly manipulate the audio to add chants they like or remove chants they don't like. This is worth pointing out because WWE could have easily edited out the "UFC" chant if they had really wanted to, but they chose not to. Also, it was very clear that this was not a fake chant added in post-production by the so-called "audio sweetener," as you could actually see fans standing and enthusiastically chanting, "UFC! UFC!"
The only problem with all of this is that despite Daniel Puder's on-air claims, he has never been an "Ultimate Fighter" and has never been associated with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It is common for the mainstream media to refer to anyone who has ever been in an MMA fight as an "Ultimate Fighter," but normally the fighters themselves aren't as openly deceptive as Daniel Puder has been on Tough Enough, implying that he has anything to do with the "Ultimate Fighting Championship" when he has never been in the UFC. As for his experience on smaller MMA shows,both the Sherdog and FCF databases said that Puder's MMA record is 1-0, with that one fight being against a fighter who is 1-1 himself.
Nonetheless, any way you look at it, it's good exposure for the UFC to have the words "Ultimate Fighting Championship" spoken under any circumstances on a WWE telecast and even better exposure to have a crowd chant "UFC" on primetime network television. Smackdown is watched by three to four million people each week on UPN.
On a side note, many people wonder how "tough" Kurt Angle really is, and we'll never really know how tough he is outside of an amateur wrestling background since he never entered mixed martial arts. However, it's worth noting that when Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar were both in WWE one day about two years ago, they decided to have a little contest in the ring during one of the many long afternoons where wrestlers have to sit around waiting for the TV taping to start in the evening.
Both Angle and Lesnar had been championship-winning amateur wrestlers and had become good friends in WWE, and they wanted to see who was the better amateur wrestler. They had several of these unofficial exhibitions in the ring with no cameras present, and amazingly enough, Angle was said to have completely manhandled Lesnar despite the fact that Lesnar is 75-100 pounds heavier and ten years younger. It was just a friendly exhibition with a handful of other wrestlers watching, but both guys were trying their damndest to win, and the exchange was said to have humbled Lesnar a little bit and added to Angle's "tough guy rep" behind the scenes.
By the way, any rumor that you have heard in the past or may hear in the future about Kurt Angle one day entering MMA competition is false. Angle's severely injured neck, which has endured multiple risky surgeries, is one bad landing away from potentially ending his pro wrestling career, much less starting a new career in MMA.