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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts > Sports > Special Interest > Ultimate Fighting Championship – The Ultimate Fighter: Season One + UFC 52 – Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell 2 (Sports)

Ultimate Fighting Championship – The Ultimate Fighter +

UFC 52 – Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell 2 (Sports)



Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-/C+     Main Programs: B-/C+



One sport that has been kept underground is that of extreme fighting, easily the most hardcore sport around.  Too violent for some, just right for others, it is a growing sport whether anyone likes it or not.  So many fictional feature films fain the toughest and best fighting around, but most of them are posers.  Even as compared to the best action film choreography, the world of the Ultimate Fighting Championship actually offers the most extreme hand-to-hand combat around and two new DVD releases give us a closer look.


The five-DVD Ultimate Fighter set is a television series in brutally uncensored form as a group of men compete to be the next major champion in a game competition not unlike the few seasons of the MTV/WWF (now WWE) series Tuff Enough, in which the “reality” cast has to take on each other to win the grand prize of being the best and getting a contract.  While the MTV show was brutal, it was also humorous and had time for asides.  With the kind of even tougher work required for the UFC, the humor is much less as they display multiple martial arts skills, while both series offered an inside look at how physical and punishing it is to make it in either organization.  Of course, the UFC has less theatricality, as if that makes the WWE less demanding.  The UFC is obviously even more dangerous, which is amazing, so why would anyone want to get into the field?


It is a huge challenge and there are huge rewards, with any of the participants beyond the threshold of pain.  They are going to have to be desensitized and disciplined enough to make a long career out of extreme fighting and that is why the 16 men chosen to have the opportunity to be the next champ all seem somewhat shy early on and need a pep talk like you have never seen before by UFC President Dana White.  Mr. White is present throughout the series.  To its credit, although it follows what might be seen as initially a reality TV formula, these guys were chosen for a reason.  The fact that they are so uncompromisingly men without pretense in this day and age of political correctness is actually refreshing and they are more for real than just about any “reality TV” cast you will see.


The first 4 DVDs have the thirteen shows, including the finale episode, while DVD 3 is solely extras including training tips, conditioning, definition of an ultimate fighter, technique of the week, fighter profiles and final preliminary bouts.  This would likely be the most popular show of its kind if it could actually be broadcast more often (something the Spike TV Network has been doing often so far), but makes for a solid viewing experience, though it has some major violence and very brutal language to boot.


The two teams the men are split in are named after their coaches, who are the top men in the league and pretty much the sport: Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell.  They are the best and for good reason.  If this set does not show why, then the UFC 52 sold separately featuring a major championship bout between them should convince you.  It is a special interest title featuring the fight with highlights like Spanish commentary and behind the scenes of the event.  There are seven bouts before them, but the Couture/Liddell battle is the kind that puts this sport on the map as legitimate and impressive.  The great Ken Shamrock also appears in the final fifth disc.  It takes real technique and skill to do what all these men do, so it is not senseless pure violence, no matter what it may look like otherwise.


With the WWE in flux, despite its intensity, the UFC could be the next big thing unless some censorship creeps in.  Maybe if more people became comfortable with seeing the martial arts (and simply recognizing it) over just writing it off as violence, nothing would surprise me.  The 1.33 x 1 image is all analog NTSC videotape that is nice and clean for the format, while the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no real surrounds in any case, but the combination is good enough for the material at hand and it is inevitable that this sport will go digital High Definition sooner or later.  But don’t let that stop you if you have become suddenly interested.  After al this programming, you too (like this critic) will have a whole new respect for what the UFC offers.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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