Although ESPN’s 2004 show “Cheap Seats” may have narrowly missed featuring the magical world of regional MMA, hosts Randy and Jason Sklar see potential for a crossover somewhere down the line.
With a pitch to ESPN so successful that it led to an immediate “hiring,” the Sklars spent the next two and a half years commentating some of the most gripping action in the world of spelling bees, Muhammad Ali vs the world events, racquetball and even “Rattlesnake Roundups.”
“It was like an old western movie almost,” Jason explained. “It was shot on film and these guys, all old dudes, all dudes who look like the cracked Oklahoma Earth, they would go out in the wilderness where there were rattlesnakes. With a stick-like claw they use at stores to get stuff off the top shelf they’d grab these snakes and throw them in a sack and bring them back to weigh them and sell them for like five bucks. I was like, ‘This is sports?’ It was so weird and so funny and there was so much space.”
Space to let the action speak for itself would help the Sklars lay on the sarcasm-coated commentary on the events that only the brothers seemed to be able to make funnier than they were in their rawest form.
Even land-speed record-breaking attempts that appeared to be as serious as can be were no match for the wit and sarcasm of the Sklars.
The show met it’s end in 2006 over a half a decade before the McGregor Mania would explode the sport of MMA into the mainstream sports psyche. Although they unfortunately never crossed paths on the show, the St. Louis-based comedy duo are appreciative of the sport today.
“I also love that they make the fights you want to see and, for me, as a father of daughters, I love the female fights,” Randy said. “Guys watch the female fights as much as the guys. The women are just like another weight class. I mean, you could have a (Valentina) Shevchenko fight at the top of the card that’s what everyone is paying to see. In what other sports do you see a bunch of dudes rooting for or against women? Tennis might be the only other one.”
Almost consistent PPV watchers, Randy and Jason are exposed to MMA enough to not only know the Poiriers, Oliveiras and McGregors; they are also almost equally enamored by the regional MMA circuit. Not the LFAs and Cage Warriors, but even deeper into the scene.
A recent re-introduction of Cheap Seats on Patreon sees the boys dabbling into combat sports for the first time.
“The first episode was an international slap fight; that’s what it billed itself as,” Randy said. “It took place in Missouri and both people were from Missouri. I’m like, ‘How is this international?’ But it doesn’t matter. It’s just two guys open palm slapping each other in the head.”
While describing the lack of form, technique, rhyme or reason, Randy couldn’t help but draw comparisons to Alaska Fighting Championship.
The Sklars keep themselves busy with more than their fair share of appearances in television and movies, as well as their podcasts “View From the Cheap Seats” and “Dumb People Town” where they keep the same dry delivery and emotion that they had on Cheap Seats over 15 years ago, and there is still a lot of hope that there will one day be a “Cheap Seats” of MMA.
“Maybe we’ll dig into the bowels of MMA and find something,” Randy said. “Maybe some of the regionals. Remember when Kimbo Slice, may he rest in peace, would go into a boat yard and knock some guy’s eye out? That to me sounds like what we’re all about. So anytime there is that, we’re going to find those clips and we’re going to go with them.”
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