1996 was the 12 months Senator John McCain infamously referred to blended martial arts as “human cockfighting” when he sought to have the game banned in all 50 states earlier than it might actually take off in america. United.
UFC 1 had taken place simply three years earlier than, on November 12, 1993, marking the beginning of MMA, and from the beginning there was curiosity as to what this “final struggle” was. There have been no weight lessons, no gloves or uniforms, and basically no guidelines. It was not sanctioned in all states. It wasn’t even known as blended martial arts but.
In the meantime, additionally in 1996, “Mates” wrapped up a profitable second season on NBC simply earlier than the summer season. The present – starring Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer – was already a smash hit because the third most-watched primetime TV collection (at a time when so much folks watched common TV) behind solely #1 “ER” and #2 “Seinfeld”.
Being featured on a present like “Mates” would undoubtedly be huge publicity for the game and particularly the UFC. However why would this have occurred again then? What does a sitcom about six younger adults residing in New York have in widespread with brutal fights that happen contained in the octagon?
Not a factor.
And but, the inventive workforce behind “Mates” got here up with an concept for an episode wherein Monica (performed by Cox) has a boyfriend named Pete (Jon Favreau), who desires of turning into an final fighter. They even leaned instantly into the UFC storyline by titling the penultimate episode of Season 3 “The One with the Final Preventing Champion,” which premiered 25 years in the past this month on the 8 Could 1997.
Given McCain’s campaign towards MMA and his ‘human cockfighting’ comment a 12 months earlier, John McCarthy could not consider the chance for a ‘Mates’-UFC crossover offered itself. by some means when he was approached to be on the present.
“Truthfully, I used to be like, ‘You have to be kidding,'” McCarthy lately informed MMA Junkie. “‘They need to put us on ‘Mates’?”
Along with McCarthy, celeb announcer Bruce Buffer, veteran Tank Abbott and eventual UFC champion and Corridor of Famer Tito Ortiz made appearances as themselves.
The episode begins with Monica assembly the entire associates on the Central Perk cafe to share the frustration that Pete did not ask her to marry him like she had hoped. As an alternative, what occurred?
“He needed to inform me that he was going to take part in an final preventing competitors,” Monica stated. Guys cannot consider it. The women have not heard of it, so that they ask Monica, who describes MMA as “form of like wrestling however with out the costumes.” She clearly meant skilled wrestling.
Joey (LeBlanc) provides that “it is not flawed” and “completely brutal”. Chandler (Perry) explains that the last word struggle is “two guys within the ring, and the foundations are… [pauses for dramatic effect] … There are not any guidelines. Ross (Schwimmer) provides that “something goes besides eye gouging and phishing.” Listening to all of this worries Monica, so she visits Pete in coaching to specific her concern, however Pete assures her that he will likely be cautious in his subsequent struggle.
Monica and Ross witness Pete’s struggle towards Abbott, with Buffer asserting their intros and “Huge” John serving as referee. When Pete and Abbott meet within the middle, Abbott picks up Pete and runs him by way of the cage and slams him towards the fence. It is the entire struggle scene. Afterwards, Pete lets Monica know that although he received his ass kicked, he is not accomplished attempting to turn out to be the last word preventing champion. And so she breaks up with him.
The struggle scene lasted 2 minutes, however the taking pictures took two days. McCarthy and Buffer recalled a enjoyable filming course of.
“They have been attempting to give you completely different concepts of how they have been going to make Jon Favreau look viable,” McCarthy stated. “They needed Tank to do sure issues, and Tank is like, ‘I’ll decide him up and run him by way of this fucking cage. I’ll slam him towards the wall. Proper? Jon Favreau goes, ‘I am 200 and one thing (kilos). I do not suppose you’ll be able to simply decide me up. Tank picks him up, carries him – so it was fairly humorous the entire time. We had fun.”
Buffer added, “It was actually cool, and we have been all simply tickled pink and felt so honored to be on the present.”
Learn on for extra from Buffer and McCarthy about different features of filming “Mates,” what it meant to them, and what it meant to the UFC.
McCarthy did it his method
One factor McCarthy did not settle for was his authentic costume concept.
Within the scene, “Huge” John is carrying his authentic, old-school, all-black referee outfit, however that would not have been the case if he hadn’t spoken.
“They needed to place me in a wardrobe and have me put on a black and white referee jersey, like a WWE referee jersey,” McCarthy recalled. “I stated, ‘I am not carrying this. That is not what we do. I had a shirt with me, I introduced it the subsequent day, I wore what I usually put on.
Buffer’s Huge Break
Previous to the “Mates” episode, Buffer was nonetheless attempting to persuade UFC proprietor Bob Meyrowitz to make him the everlasting octagon announcer after doing UFC 8 and UFC 10. So, when Meyrowitz known as Buffer to ask if he needed to be on the episode, the reply was a no brainer.
It was on set that Buffer pushed his chips all the way in which and used his portrayal of the UFC on one in every of America’s greatest reveals to his benefit.
“I stated, ‘Robert, right here I am taking part in myself within the greatest comedy on TV. That is the most important publicity you get, and I have been on the lookout for you for a 12 months and a half now to be the everlasting announcer from the octagon to develop with the game but in addition that will help you construct your model. As a result of I’m a model builder and I’ve instant relationships that do not pay any consideration to you. Everyone seems to be afraid of the UFC. You want me within the octagon. Now I am on this present, let’s make a deal.”
Buffer known as it “the most effective poker hand I’ve ever performed in my life.”
“It gave me the fodder, it gave me the ability and the punch to return in and ask for this one final time,” Buffer stated. “And that might have been the final time I might have requested.”
As an alternative, the remainder was historical past. And since UFC 13, Buffer has by no means regarded again.
On portraying MMA in ‘Mates’
Dampen: “It was nicely represented in a comedy. It wasn’t a UFC documentary. It was a comedy. So in comedy, they will go for the sizzle of comedy and all of the enjoyable factors. It isn’t like you’ll be able to count on to get an training from “associates” about what the UFC is or what blended martial arts is. We did not even name it blended martial arts again then. It was simply an final struggle, and he had his picture.
McCarthy: “I believed it was humorous, and that is what it was speculated to be. … It was speculated to be enjoyable, it was speculated to be humorous, and it was speculated to get (crushed). I believe that is what was portrayed. Total it was good for the UFC. It simply opened extra folks’s eyes to, ‘Oh, what is that this?’
On the significance of “associates” selecting the UFC over boxing
Dampen: “It is a very monumental second in UFC historical past, there isn’t any doubt about it. They might have chosen every other sport. They selected the UFC. They might have introduced in (Evander) Holyfield , (Mike) Tyson, any person else from boxing. (UFC) was such a present again then why not go for the present of him attempting to be the hardest man within the hardest fight sport there may be. Not that boxing is not exhausting. I really like boxing. However it was gladiator, and (Pete)’s entire perspective was – once more, the title. He needed to turn out to be the last word preventing champion, not the boxing champion. “I need to be the last word preventing champion.” It added drama to the present, gave him that little further edge that they have been on the lookout for.
McCarthy: “I used to be like, ‘Nicely, rattling it, at the least that is one thing persons are watching. It is good publicity.
To today, Buffer and McCarthy are nonetheless accumulating royalties
McCarthy: “I receives a commission $750 a day. I received the SAG charge. I acquired $1,500 to do that. Because of “Mates” and the dimensions of “Mates” and the way in which it got here out in every single place, I made extra money from this silly episode. I get checks to today. Typically they value 32 cents; typically they’re $320. However I am nonetheless getting checks to today for this episode.
Dampen: “They’re both $54 or $104 and typically $200, however that is wonderful when you think about the very fact (25 years) of checks for over $50 each month. It is wonderful the way it works. …Each time I open a type of residual SAG checks, the expertise comes again, so it is all good.
- Billy Crystal and Robin Williams make an look in “The One with the Final Preventing Champion”, which was not within the authentic script and purely coincidental. It comes in the course of the opening scene and has nothing to do with the UFC storyline, but it surely’s lots of enjoyable.
- “Courtney Cox hates my guts,” McCarthy informed MMA Junkie with fun. Why? He did not precisely need to share the main points, even when he did, so you must ask him about it. 😉
- On the time of filming in late 1996, Ortiz had but to make his skilled MMA debut. It was Buffer’s first time assembly him. “I bear in mind he was simply this large man, good and all, leaping up and down stuffed with vitality and pondering to myself, ‘I will be champion in the future, look.’ There you go,” Buffer stated.
- To open the struggle scene, a large shot is used of the placement of the UFC occasion that includes Pete’s struggle with Abbott. The placement proven isn’t in New York the place the collection takes place. That is the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, which was dwelling to the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL and the Minnesota Twins of MLB on the time.
- On the time of the premiere, the UFC had solely held 14 occasions, the newest being “UFC 12: Judgment Day”, the primary UFC occasion to function weight lessons.
- “The One With The Final Preventing Champion” was the final episode wherein Favreau appeared as Pete.
Watch the struggle scene