Being a fan of combat sports means, at a minimum, accepting the weird. This is a world that exists on the fringe of main stream sports. Some fans love all the strange aspects, the mismatches and freak show fights. Long retired boxers? Sure, there’s an audience for that. Three-on-one MMA? Fight Circus in Thailand will satisfy that fix. At a certain point, anything goes!
Triller Fight Club pushed the boundaries further than anyone else, which should be exciting. Unfortunately, the event did so in a new, terrible direction.
The premise seemed simple enough. Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren is not a great fight by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s intriguing. Paul is annoying, and watching him get his ass kicked would be satisfying. Askren was a terrible enough striker in MMA to keep the outcome unpredictable. Both men sold the fight well enough.
I guess the primary audience for the main event was Paul’s large YouTube fan base, bolstered by MMA nerds who liked Askren?
Looking at the rest of the card, there’s really nothing else that appeals to those groups. Regis Prograis vs. Ivan Redkach was a good fight for actual boxing fans. Frank Mir vs. Steve Cunningham was clearly aimed for fans of the geriatric. Fournier vs. Reykon was a squash match, an 8-0 boxer vs. a reggae musician supposedly set up over some club drama.
None of these things have anything to do with each other. The fan bases do not overlap.
As if the card itself were not strange enough, the pacing was an absolute disaster. In the first two hours — 120 minutes! — of the show, there were six minutes of boxing (the reggae murder). What filled up the rest of the time? A half-dozen performances from all over the musical spectrum, Ric Flair, and slapping matches.
No one likes all of these things! Jake Paul’s YouTube following does not give a shit about Ric Flair. As one of the MMA fans tuning in, I can promise you I did not care about the many musical guests whose names promptly faded from my memory. Even if I did ... Look, I like Ice Cube. The man is a hip-hop legend. Did his performance add to the broadcast? No, not when I can go on YouTube and watch an entire Ice Cube concert for free at any time. Justin Bieber sang love songs before the main event.
More damningly: NO ONE FORKED OVER $50 TO WATCH PETE DAVIDSON! Somehow, the broadcast cut away from an actual boxing match to show him walking around ... and he later interviewed Ben Askren?
Regarding the overall broadcast, it was a mess in every way. The camera repeatedly faded away from the boxers at random moments, making it impossible to know who was landing punches. The commentary crew made Bellator’s team look professional in comparison. A gaggle of goofs who barely talked about the mediocre boxing matches going on, they actively distracted from the boxing. Oscar De La Hoya showed up for the Mir fight, and he was agonizingly hammered. The crew made overeager marijuana references like a seventh grader who has never actually smoked the devil’s lettuce.
Nothing made any sense. There was no string that tied it all together. Someone at Triller has a great deal of connections to a ton of stars, but they have no idea what to do with all these names and talents.
I watched this event for free as a media member. After witnessing Triller Fight Club, I remain baffled regarding their target market, and so I can only ask our readers: Did you pay for this? Was it worth it? Are you excited for the next show?
Just ... why?!?
For complete Triller Fight Club PPV results, including “Paul vs. Askren” play-by-play updates, click here.