Chuck Norris Presents WCL: World Combat League

Chuck Norris may be the superhuman hero of a thousand ”Chuck Norris Facts” jokes and a pal of Mike Huckabee, but when it comes to creating sports franchises, he’s got a ways to go. The retired fighter is backing a mixed-martial-arts tournament, and as Chuck Norris Presents WCL: World Combat League proves, the results are mighty uneven. Norris’ motives are solid: He wants his version of MMA to be more punch-and-kick, less hit-the-mat-and-grapple, because the latter, with its slow, crablike clinches, can be a bore. Out of 168 fights on the DVD — comprising the full first season of the WCL’s TV series, broadcast in 2006-07 on something called the Versus network — some are rock-’em, sock-’em knockouts. But the fledgling WCL has yet to produce a star as charismatic as, say, Tito Ortiz or Bas Ruttan from the sport’s dominant Ultimate Fighting Championship league. I like WCL’s crisp three-minute rounds; I don’t like the ring, shaped like a soup bowl without ropes (combatants can go flying over its lip — ouch!). But if Norris reads this…um, that’s not my real name, Chuck.

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