Beginning tonight and continuing into next week, we are going to experience something for the first time in history. It’s not really a big deal to anyone else, but it’s pretty big to those who follow mixed martial arts on a regular basis. The sport of MMA will be represented on mainstream reality television.
Photo courtesy of NBC.
Now I’m not talking The Ultimate Fighter, TapouT, or another MMA-related reality show that has aired to date. More people will be watching Tito Ortiz and Ricco Rodriguez over the next few months than probably each of The Ultimate Fighter seasons combined.
Ortiz will be trying his hand on Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC while Rodriguez will be checking into “Celebrity Rehab” on VH1. The connection between the two is quite obvious. They are best friends and former training partners under the Team Punishment banner.
Now the million dollar question - Will the sport of MMA be affected in a positive or negative way because of all this?
In reality (no pun intended), it’s all going to depend on two key things - The behavior of the two and how they are portrayed. Now if we just the past as an example, we’re screwed to put it lightly. Both are brash, cocky individuals. Ortiz is loud and likes to talk trash. Rodriguez has struggled with substance abuse problems in recent years. However I think things might go a little differently.
I’m not really all that worried about Ortiz. I think we’re all aware that he’s a pretty intelligent guy and I’m sure that’s going to be evident on the show. Ortiz has been working with charities for years now and I’m sure that he wouldn’t want to hurt his chances of having a good amount of money go towards St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by acting up. He’ll most likely shine on the show.
Rodriguez is a different story. These VH1 reality shows usually make you or break you in terms of how you behave and how you are portrayed. You can have your career jump-started again like Hulk Hogan or you can be made out to be a complete psycho like Joanie Laurer (Chyna).
So is all of this going to be good or bad for MMA? I don’t know the answer to be honest. Do you? Personally I’m going to have to wait to see how this all plays out. It’s going to be interesting to watch everything unfold without a doubt.
The upcoming season of “Celebrity Apprentice” begins tonight at 9 PM EST on NBC. Rodriguez and “Celebrity Rehab” will debut on January 10th on VH1.