(Hilo dogs are broke-ass.)
So begins the first episode of UFC Primetime, the "St Pierre vs. Penn 2" promotional mini-series that reportedly cost $1.7 million to produce, with each episode being completed just hours before it airs. The effort was worth it — if you tuned in last night, you saw a tightly paced, slickly edited documentary feature that rivaled anything HBO has done with their 24/7 boxing-hype series. Here were the highlights:
— Georges St. Pierre is immediately set up as the stoic hard-scrabbler in contrast to BJ Penn‘s spoiled playboy persona. Already waking up on Las Vegas time and working out like a maniac at Montreal’s Tristar Gym and Grant Boxing Gym, GSP offers this summary of Man’s condition: "I don’t believe there is pleasure in life. I believe there is only a relief of pain."
— BJ Penn’s training setting would seem like a vacation for any other fighter. He runs through sunny Hilo with his training partners, greeting everyone he passes like a local politician. And in fact, Penn’s bro-manager JD describes the setup of his training camp at the all-in-one Penn Training and Fitness Center in political terms: Penn is the president, his coaches are his cabinet, and JD is the chief of staff.
— On GSP, Penn says: "Is GSP a great fighter? Yeah he’s a great fighter, but he’s a quitter, he’s a front runner, he’s that bully guy that’s big and strong, but once you push through, once you get through all of that — and it aint easy — but once you get through it, he’s gonna fold, and he’s gonna quit." St. Pierre responds later: "BJ thinks I’m a quitter? I’m not the one who come from a wealthy family. I come from a poor environment. I’m the one who worked three jobs at the same time in the past. I’m the one who didn’t have money. I’m the one who has struggled to be where I’m at right now." St. Pierre had nothing handed to him in his life. He had to quit school in order to work long days as a garbageman in order to make ends meet. So, the "quitter" label bothers him.
— Dana White makes his first appearance to talk about Penn’s enormous talent, which he previously squandered on a party lifestyle. "It’s hard to stay motivated when you already have plenty of money," he says. Penn admits that before he re-committed himself to MMA, he never trained more than an hour per day; now it’s five hours per day. Though the Penn family was wealthy, they at least lived near a bad neighborhood, with plenty of rough characters looking for fights. Even in his youth, BJ never backed down from anyone.
— There’s this slo-mo club scene where GSP struts through some Montreal hot-spot, soundtracked by French rap music. He says he doesn’t take drugs or drink alcohol, but he likes to go out at night to get his mind off training.
— What does BJ do to get his mind off training? Leave the camp for five straight days to unwind in Kona. He says that he felt his body slowing down, so he needed to take it easy for a while so he could "peak" on the 31st. Word gets back to Dana White, who’s not happy. DW calls BJ’s cell phone a couple times; BJ chooses not to answer. DW calls JD to make sure BJ is not vacationing three weeks before the fight. JD denies it. DW knows JD is lying. DW knows everything about everyone, at all times.
Awesome first episode, from top to bottom. Very little time was wasted on St. Pierre and Penn’s careers as a whole; everything related to their controversial first fight in March 2006 and their upcoming rematch at UFC 94. The production quality and use of music was superb, and a good amount of suspense was left for the next episode, as we’re left wondering if Dana White’s fury could convince Penn to cut short his five-day layoff.
What did you think?