I’m not sure what’s more troubling: that the juvenile hall antics sell the show, or that the show has yet to evolve beyond them. With several more seasons contracted, "TUF" risks a greater sin by simply becoming repetitive and stilted. Even the primal humor in "Jackass" grows stale after a few seasons. (You’ve seen one staple gun to the testicles, you’ve seen them all.)
Even more unsettling: to think that the real paradigm shift in this sport’s young history was the conceit of showing fighters one step from hurling feces at each other like monkeys -- that this perversion of sportsmanship is what it took for a mass audience to take notice of an otherwise complex and beautiful thing. MMA was apparently beyond anyone’s interest until its participants began peeing on pillows for basic cable.
Was this really the secret saving grace of combat sports? Does our culture really need actual, literal poo to fertilize a sprouting athletic event? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall any footage of Muhammad Ali taking a dump in an opponent’s toilet tank.
The idea that this sort of behavior is necessary for the show to succeed is little more than a poverty of imagination. Worse, the idea that this is all somehow forgivable because it's neatly packaged within the confines of a reality show is wishful thinking. There is opportunity cost to airing these sorts of images and creating these impressions. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
I will give this new season of the reality show the benefit of the doubt early on, but if Spike and the UFC continue to traffic this lowest common denominator dreck, the gloves come off.