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UFC: The Ultimate Fighter Season 4 DVD Review



24 February 2008

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the ultimate fighter season 4 dvd cover

 

Cert: 18

Length: 11 hrs 54 mins

Discs: 5

 

"Charles McCarthy..... it is not yooou!" I challenge any and everyone who'll ever indulge their senses with the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter- subtitled "The Comeback"- not to chirp "it is not yooou" every time they hear the name of the man known as "Chainsaw" for the remainder of their existence. Heck, I caught myself spontaneously and randomly hollering it out in the shower the other day. Thank you, Shonie Carter, for making me feel an utter plank in the privacy of my own home.

Fighters:

  • Travis Lutter
  • Charles McCarthy
  • Gideon Ray
  • Jorge Rivera
  • Pete Sell
  • Scott Smith
  • Patrick Côté
  • Edwin DeWees
  • Rich Clementi
  • Mikey Burnett
  • Jeremy Jackson
  • Pete Spratt
  • Shonie Carter
  • Chris Lytle
  • Matt Serra
  • Din Thomas

DVD Special Features include:

  • Finalist profiles
  • Cast interviews
  • Deleted scenes

Indeed, "The Comeback" would've been served no greater a misnomer had it been named "The Ultimate Fighter 4: The Matt Serra and Shonie Carter Show." Based around the premise of sixteen also-ran UFC veterans vying for a shot at the Middle and Welterweight championships, the central dynamic of the first three series was emphatically stripped away when Zuffa placed a school of experienced professional fighters in the environment where the zany antics of Chris Leben earned the one time "Cat Smasher" a cult following. Simply put, the muted and focused assembly give us very little to get excited about as each episode stumbles along to it's conclusion. Whilst the format of the show was beginning to clamour for a shake-up at the tail end of season three, by the time the alumni were finished, the concept appeared to have well and truly run it's course. Thank the supreme being, then, for small mercies in the form of "The Terror" and "Mr International".

Another aspect that affected the ebb and flow of the series was the lack of specific team coaches- given the nature of the cast, though, Dana White had pretty much backed himself into a corner on that score. Career instructor Serra throws the series a bone in the early going, positioning himself as de-facto captain of the grey team- Team Mojo (or Mo'Fo, had Spike TV not intervened- check the extras)- and his outgoing pilotage and organisation certainly appears on the surface to be the compelling factor in Mojo's total dominance, as the team attains victory in seven of the eight preliminary fights. The man who would go on to affirm the credibility of TUF by lifting the 170lb strap is the backbone of most episodes, with the main narrative points stemming from his desire to get his "win back" from team mate Carter (an awesome first fight, by the way- seek it out now!), and of particular note later on, his distaste for assigned grappling coach Marc Laimon. Bad blood between Laimon and Serra stems from Laimon's vocal disdain for the Gracies, which comes to a head in the latter episodes when the New Yorker calls Laimon on that old chestnut "you've never done it (ie. fought) so what you say doesn't matter". Whilst the likeable Serra is easy to side with given build and perspective, as anyone out of primary school would be able to tell you, one could fly a fleet of Boeing 747 through the holes in that logic. Still, it's a rare peak amidst the vastest of valleys.

The string of guest coaches give Serra another chance to shine- witness his bemusement as Rich Franklin suggests he start his preliminary round fight with Pete Spratt by dropping to one knee where "The Lethal Weapon" would be unable to utilise his trademark kicks. These highpoints aside, Serra's constant ribbing of Charles McCarthy ("It is not yooo...."- damnit!!), upon whom is bestowed the gimmick "Captain Miserable", as well as his gruff impersonations of Jorge Rivera make him one to take to heart.

Shonie Carter's offbeat, cartoonish shenanigans play off Serra's persona in the classic goofball/straight man fashion- in otherwise frustratingly stoic surroundings, Shonie is well and truly the comic relief, his ongoing quest to irritate and antagonise the other housemates culminating as he repeatedly deposits scores of used water bottles into the outside swimming pool amidst vague intentions of building a raft. These incidents aside, the only time pulses are set a-racing lands as Jeremy Jackson is unceremoniously booted from the competition for jumping the wall for a midnight liaison with a female pool lifeguard. While Chris Lytle, Mikey Burnett, Din Thomas and Charles McCarthy ("It is not....." f***'s sake!!) offer up the scantest of viewing sustenance, I struggle to remember any contribution made by the likes of Edwin DeWees, Travis Lutter, Pete Spratt and Gideon Ray outside of the cage.

The sole aspect in which the weekly episodes here within can boast one-upsmanship over seasons past is in fight quality. From the first batch of preliminary outings, it is abundantly clear that these are accomplished and evenly matched fighters, comfortable in their environment. Carter's victory over Rich Clementi and the bloodbath of DeWees vs Ray are easily the choice moments of the first disc, whilst the eventual and inevitable meeting of the stars of the show in the semis (that's Serra and Carter, in case you weren't paying attention) is quite simply the best TUF fight to date that wasn't for a contract and a big glass plaque. Unfortunately, this trend wasn't quite able to mosey on into the live finale, which constitutes the entire fourth disc, bookended as it is by a hopelessly tedious strike/back off-fest between Martin Kampmann and Thales Leites, and a soul crushingly disappointing fifteen minutes of fence crushing between Serra and the generally underrated Lytle. The event is only spruced up by a lively Din Thomas vs Rich Clementi scrap, and one of the most awe inspiring finishes in MMA history, as Scott Smith indulges in a spot of fighting spirit-esque no-selling to knockout Pete Sell, only to crumple to the mat from a previous blow after the stoppage.

In comparison to Season Three, the extras are pretty sparse, with the profile segments on the four finalists comprising mainly of recycled footage from the previous discs with occasional voiceovers from Dana White, whilst the deleted scenes amount to little more than Shonie Carter antics considered too improvident for the final cut. The casting interview cuts, too, suffer from a lack of turns from the unsuccessful applicants, a feature which highlighted the previous set of this nature.

This isn't an actively bad set, by any stretch of the imagination- there's enough here to keep you watching at a steady pace until the conclusion; it's just that next to the other season's of The Ultimate Fighter, both before and since, "The Comeback" looks startlingly lacklustre.

Points: 6 / 10

Stew Boyd

Buy It:

UK: DVD

USA: DVD



.

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