By Josh Stein on May 29, 2009
Upon rewatching the ninth episode of The Ultimate Fighter, I realized that the story, as it often is, was in the underdog. But it’s not in the upset of Bisping’s protege: Dave “The Gagmeister” Faulkner. It’s the way he was upset.
There are so many ways I could joke about the failure of Faulkner and his hypnotist, and how irritating the juvenile Bisping can be. There are endless quips about the monotone of Dan Henderson, win or lose.
But as someone who’s been getting more and more frustrated with the Ultimate Fighter as the series has gone on, especially after a certain toe-headed Team Mir fighter from last season, there was something incredibly cathartic about watching Frank Lester, something that reminded me what I liked about the show.
There are a lot of technical guys on TUF, though less now than there were at the shows inception (in the first two seasons, we’ve seen some of the best fighters in the sport, and the talent pool now is much smaller), but what made the show was not the technical ability of the fighters, as we had nothing to compare it to.
It was the willingness to fight.
It was the understanding that this was the shot.
It was that “grab the bull by the horns” mindset.
Whether Frank Lester wins this season or not, it’s worth remembering that he embodies all of those things, and that, for many, that’s what makes this sport so great.
Sure, Dwayne Wade might fall down seven times and stand up eight, but he didn’t stand up, he didn’t step back on the court, missing the front part of his mouth. The potential for that in other sports, the potential to display that kind of testicular fortitude is what makes athletes like Frank Lester more than just fighters. It’s about being a warrior.
I use the term “BAMF ” a lot in casual discussions of MMA, and it’s really a specialized term. It’s not something that I use to talk about the best fighter. Lyoto Machida is a monster, but I have seen little to indicate that the term applies. A guy who does what Lester did, that’s what I’m talking about.
Even on watching a rerun, sitting on my coach critiquing technique like an armchair general, Monday morning quarterback-ing SOB that I am, I still get a little slack jawed watching Lester talk about how happy he is to get another shot, my eyes focused on the gummy mass attempting to resemble a mouth. This is what makes the show great, and what makes the sport great.
The reality of MMA is not always captured on TUF. It’s not a secret that the reality show is not about showing reality. Still, every once in a while the producers let something more interesting, more significant than Mikey Burnett vs. the Wall slip onto the airwaves, and it’s worth a mention.
All of the Junie Brownings, the annoying, semi-talented drunk, loudmouth punks that make their way onto that show may annoy the crap out of me, but, every once in a while, the Frank Lesters make it worth watching.
Filed Under: MMA
About the Author: Joshua Stein is a writer and editor for MMA Opinion. He has worked as a photographer and journalist and has a number of print journalism credits. He also works as a moderator for MMAForum.com and a grappling columnist (covering judo, collegiate wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and submission grappling) for profighting-fans.com.