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Saturday, March 02, 2013

No Holds Barred: Chris Thomas On Why Robot Combat League Is The Future of Combat Sports 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman speaks with our longtime colleague and correspondent Chris Thomas.

Based in Maryland, Chris has been involved both in MMA and traditional martial arts for many years in various capacities. He also is among those of us from the combat sports who are closely following the development of the new Robot Combat League, which had its debut show on Syfy in the U.S. Tuesday, February 26.

The Robot Combat League features 12 state-of-the-art robots engaged in a tournament where they fight each other. The robots are controlled by a human fighter known as a robo-jockey and an engineer known as a robo-tech. The first season of nine weekly episodes has already been filmed. Two of the 12 robo-jockeys, Andrew Montanez and Amanda Lucas, are professional MMA fighters.

The Nielsen ratings for the debut episode of the Robot Combat League showed it drew 1.351 million viewers, with just 1.143 million viewers for The Ultimate Fighter on FX on the same night but one hour earlier.

We spoke with Chris by phone Friday to discuss the significance of the Robot Combat League and review its first televised show.

"Coming out of the gate, Eddie, with drawing 1.35 million people on the debut night, it was pretty impressive," he said in this interview.

"It really gave a lot of people, I think, a glance at the future of combat sports. With the head injuries and the challenges of athletes getting bigger, stronger, and faster every single day, gosh, I can't say I hate to see it, but It could be the future of combat sports, these robots fighting with jockeys, so therefore there's no personal injury. Is it happening now? No. Do I hope it happens now? Not necessarily. But I sure did enjoy it."

We discussed what happened on this first episode, how apparently brains defeated brawn in the first televised fight, why we like the tournament format, what this sport might look like in the future, what improvements this show can make, and more.

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