I was browsing channels this week and caught a commercial for Bushido Battleground premiering on the El Rey network. It looked interesting enough that I set my DVR to record not knowing what really this was going to be about. It was a new show, so I figured I would give it a shot.
The show is made by Executive Producer, Robert Rodriguez and it follows two MMA fighters as they prepare to face each other. The narrator of this documentary style approach is Michael Jai White. The fighters featured were Ivan “Choko” Castillo and Chris “Taco” Padilla. Castillo trained with coach Arafat Torres out of AVT Blackxicans from Baja California, Mexico while Padilla trained just up the road at Systems Training Center in Encino, California.
They show training clips of each fighter preparing for the fight while talking to each of the fighters and their coaches. Some of the clips are repeated several times. It shows Castillo doing clinch training with him pressing his coach in the clinch and going for takedowns. While in Padilla’s training they show him working on mostly his striking where they feel he will have the advantage. The camera work is great and they show some great overhead shots of the cities. I must say that the production value is top notch.
As we get closer to the fight they show some of the pre-fight checks of the fighters and preparations for the weigh-in. They show that Castillo is .8 pounds over the lightweight limit of 156 pounds with only 20 minutes until the weigh-in. They get to the weigh-in and Padilla makes weight and his coaches are happy and feel confident that he will have an advantage in cardio due to Castillo’s weight struggles. Castillo goes to weigh-in and misses by .6 pounds. He has 2 hours to make weight or he loses 20% of his purse or possibly not fight at all. They show a weakened and tired Castillo in the sauna trying to get that last bit of weight off. Castillo makes his way back to the weigh-in and apparently, he makes weight, but they gave no announcement of his final weight.
Next it shows Tony Parrish and Nate Quarry interviewing the fighters and discussing the upcoming fight. They discuss Padilla wearing a Jason mask for weigh-ins and talk to Padilla about that. They also ask Castillo about the mask. I don’t know if they were just looking for something interesting to talk about or if they thought it would affect either fighter.
The location of the fight is the Caliente Bull Ring in Tijuana, Mexico. The facility is shown and talked about as it has caged animals surrounding the outside of the arena. Tony Parrish gets excited about the animals, but Nate calms him down and talks about the fights inside the arena. The fighters are shown coming out and the announcer is introducing them. This is shown still in documentary style and not shown like a traditional fight is normally shown. Once the fight started they did have the announce team of TJ DeSantis and Nate Quarry calling the fight traditionally, but the camera angles were very different and sometimes took away from the fight.
Round 1 starts with Padilla going early for the clinch against the cage and he eventually gets a takedown, but is immediately reversed and they get up and end up in clinch again. They separate and Castillo is landing hard overhand rights and a nice leg kick. Padilla goes for clinch again as he was getting hit pretty good in the stand-up. Late in the round Padilla gets a takedown and gets to mount and drops some elbows but there was only 10 seconds in the round. The round ends with Padilla on top.
Between rounds they cut back and forth to each corner with no audio from the corners just captions of what is being told to each fighter.
Round 2 starts and Padilla quickly looks for a takedown. They end up in the clinch against the cage. They had a couple of spots where Padilla would get the takedown, but Castillo would pop right back up and they would end up in the clinch against the cage. The announcers were discussing whether the referee should break them up. Nate said he doesn’t feel the ref should do anything and to let the fighters just go. Round 2 ends with them against the cage. This was not an action-packed round, but Padilla did control most of the round in the clinch.
Round 3 starts with Castillo looking good striking and trying to keep his distance and not get caught up in the clinch again. He manages to succeed for a little while, but eventually Padilla closes the distance and ties him up in the clinch. Padilla eventually works to secure a takedown and kept Castillo down. It was hard to keep up with everything going on during the ground sequences because the cameras kept going to the coaches of both corners. They transitioned to mount and Castillo gave up his back, but he recovered back to mount and then recovered to half-butterfly and from there he got up. That was the end of the round and we go to a decision.
The judges gave it a split decision to Padilla. Castillo was disappointed in the outcome and felt he won the fight based on his striking and that Padilla really did not do damage in any of the positions. Padilla did hold the dominant positions, but he did not really attack with any kind of solid strikes besides the end of round 1 when he had mount. I still think Padilla won due to his dominant positions, but he didn’t do much damage. The show ends with ending narration from Michael Jai White.
Garcia’s Analysis: I thought the show had an overall great production feel. The lead up to the fight was better than the actual fight, but it’s tough to predict how a fight is going to go. The camera work in the fight was tough to watch because they would have extreme closeups and they would cut to the corners of each fighter during the fight. The fight itself was slow, so maybe they were trying to get the emotional feel and experience of the fight rather than present to the audience the whole fight. The narration was great for this. Overall, I don’t know if it will be on the top of my list of things to watch, however I will keep it queued in my DVR and watch them as I can. If you are looking for something to watch that gets behind the scenes of training and fighting then this show will scratch that itch. I give this show 3 stars out of 5. I would have gone higher if the fight was a little better.
Have you watched? If so, what are your thoughts? Did I miss something? Let me know on twitter @JZGarciaMMA