Cung Le was the head coach for the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter: China,” but he ended up doing a lot more than training the fighters.
In an interview Sunday with the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Rewind” show, Le discussed various issues he had with the production side of the program, which premiered last December in China on Liaoning Satellite TV.
“They used their own camera guys,” Le said. “They said that was their best camera crew. Trust me, I don’t want to say too much, but at first it was like, ‘Please get up and shoot this,’ to me grabbing the camera and trying to turn it on myself to try to shoot it myself.”
Le said it got to the point that he would ask fighters to hold on when they came to him with problems.
“They were like dying to open up to me and I’m like, ‘Please, no offense. I’ll be right back. I’ll listen to you.’ And then I would go and grab a camera guy and get him there. And I’d say [to the fighter], ‘OK, explain it to me.’”
The former Strikeforce champion also had problems with how the show was edited.
“The most frustrating thing that I came across was I was able to salvage so much great footage -- I even made sure that they captured the moment on playback,” he said, “and when it came to the editing, they edited around a lot of scenarios that would make the Chinese coaches look bad or it would make the fighters who didn’t know anything, like the yoga guy, [look bad].”
Le doesn’t actually blame the editor, though, nor did he blame the UFC or producer Dan Farmer (he praised both Farmer and the UFC for their roles with the show).
“I wouldn’t say it was the editor,” he said. “I would say it’s a little bit higher on the ladder. That’s all I can say.”
In the end, Le said the show had enough drama to “outdramatize any other show that the UFC has,” but too much good material didn’t make the cut. Still, he feels “TUF: China” illustrated that the country has a bright future ahead in MMA.
“In the end what I realized is all these athletes that China has, man, they pick up fast because in six weeks, they got the game,” Le said. “They started understanding it because they were really good martial artists.”
Listen to the full interview.