by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy NBC)
Earlier this year former Playmate of the Year Tiffany Fallon made her mixed martial arts broadcasting debut as part of MyNetworkTV’s “IFL Battleground” series, and for the most part, silenced any preconceived notions anyone would have of a model new to the sport taking up a mic position.
Months later and the International Fight League season is over and Fallon has moved on from the promotion to other projects, namely as one of the contestants of NBC’s “The Apprentice: Celebrity Edition,” which debuts this Thursday night.
Fallon, along with the other contestants – including former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz, former undisputed heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis and KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons – vie on behalf of their charities to survive the whim and achieve ultimate approval of New York billionaire Donald Trump.
“I’ve never been one to turn down opportunity,” said Fallon of her inclusion on the reality TV series. “With this Celebrity Apprentice I wasn’t familiar with the format, much like I wasn’t with the world of MMA, but I dove right in and had fun with it.
“Any time you have fun with your job, that’s important.”
Her inclusion on The Apprentice comes shortly after having parted ways with the IFL.
According to Fallon, her time with the promotion was very positive and she anticipates returning to the MMA world after taking time out for her current pregnancy.
“It was just a great experience,” she commented of her time in the IFL. “I was just in awe that the fighters have so much respect for one another and their coaches.
“For people like me, TV hosts, reporters and journalists alike, it’s just a real positive example of where professional athletes and athletics should be today. It was really just a positive experience and I look forward to diving back into the sport.”
Not does Fallon look back fondly on her time with the IFL, she continues to keep up with her former co-host Bas Rutten and has high expectations for the promotion’s future.
“He (Rutten) was nothing but extraordinary to me and we still to this day keep in contact,” she commented. “I’m just so blessed to work with him and the IFL.
“We were able to do such great things, like the USO tour and be on the Navy ship, that was a stellar example of what the league is and I’m looking forward to seeing more of that in the future.”
Having worked with one of MMA’s most colorful individuals in Rutten, the conversation then turned to another one of MMA’s most unique personalities, Fallon’s castmate on Celebrity Apprentice, Tito Ortiz.
Ortiz, as many longtime MMA followers know, has had, at times, a volatile relationship with other fighters, fans and even the top brass at the UFC, namely company president Dana White.
Fallon, however, saw a side of him that many people do not get to see during the taping of the show. According to her, Ortiz was on his best behavior, even while showing his ever-present determination to win that he possesses in the MMA world.
“I had never met him (Tito) before, and to be honest with you, I had nothing less than a great experience with him,” admitted Fallon. “He is absolutely charming, very kind, very sincere, and we hit it off right away, as did most of the celebrities.
“I actually found him to be quite refreshing to be around. He was incredibly kind and himself throughout the whole show and he’s very focused too. He came in saying he wanted to win, and would I expect nothing less from him, because he’s a great competitor.”
Competition, personalities and cameras aside, Fallon’s main focus on Celebrity Apprentice was to do well for her charity, The Walter Reed Society, a charity that became close to her heart during her time with Playboy.
“I got to visit The Walter Reed Hospital when I was Playmate of the Year (2005) and these folks obviously rehabilitate and take care of the wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan (among other U.S. military conflicts),” said Fallon.
“I was just so moved by my experience there that I wanted to give back in some other way than signing autographs and just paying a visit. So this is my way of spreading a positive light on Walter Reed and hopefully will gain enthusiasm for other people doing the same thing.”
With a successful run with the IFL under her belt, an appearance on what may be the biggest reality show of the winter season, and an upcoming return to Playboy, it’s been a stellar year for Fallon.
“Being a newcomer to this sport this year and the fans were so great,” she concluded. “They embraced the show, and I just really appreciate their support and continued support in the things I have coming up.
“Speaking of which, I will be on the cover of Playboy for the February issue which hits stands on Jan. 19 I believe. I really appreciate the fans in general, it’s been really fun and I look forward to seeing them in future in person.”