Season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter started this week and I thought It only fair that I wrote about it. Not about this season in particular, but an overview of it. I am a massive TUF fan. I think its fair to say that it revolutionized the sport. In my opinion, TUF has brought the the sport to the masses, and without it, maybe the sport would be dead by now. The sport is continuing to evolve and some say that TUF should too. What would you do to it? I think generally it has been great. It gives people the opportunity to compete on a TV network and attempt to make a name for themselves.
Believe it or not it, it does improve the UFC and the talent pool it has. I think with the UFC saturating the market with content, it’s easy to forget how important a tool TUF is. Obviously the first season was the most successful in terms of talent. I believe it also still has the most fighters than any season still competing today. But today, the UFC has such a huge turnover of fighters. Being in TUF doesn’t even guarantee you a fight on the finale, let alone after the finale. That is the major difference between TUF1 and today. You just get one moment to shine.
Fighter experience must also be a factor. People like Forrest Griffin already had fights over or approaching double figures. The new blood of today rarely have that luxury. This may be a blessing for genuine UFC fighters. Fighters like Amir Suddula may fight their entire careers inside the Octagon. Matt Riddle might have too, until he got busted for weed and generally talking crap. But that really is the exception. Unfortunately if you want to be in the UFC, you have got to be able to fight. You can’t learn to fight in the Octagon, not anymore anyway.
In a sense, that was what TUF was built on, the face that you could learn and losing didn’t necessarily mean the end for you. This may be the reason why people are frustrated when they invest so much time in a season of TUF, watching 16 people develop, when in all likelihood only four of them will make it past the finale. For me, it’s the coaches and the fighters that make TUF great. UFC generally gets the coaches spot on. There are only two seasons I can think of when the coaches really stank.
For Mir v Big Nog, not only were the coaches rubbish but the fighters were forgettable too. And TUF Smashes, which was a great concept was let down by awful boring coaches. Ross Pearson for the UK and George Sotoroplis for Australia. I can’t think of another UK v Aussie pair right now, but it was bad. Thankfully the fighters on both teams were actually really good. Every other coach pairing has had moments of greatness, hilarity and warmth.
Michael Bisping is TUF gold. He has been involved with three seasons so far and he has been great in all of them. I would have loved him to coach opposite Chael Sonnen. How great would that of been? Instead you had Jon Jones. He is arguably one of the most talented fighters in the world, but outside the cage he is terribly dull. Forward to now and we have female coaches and a house with both men and women. Potentially this could be an amazing season.
Both the coaches have beauty and charisma and both are great fighters. On this season more than any other, it is going to be the fights that will make or break the show. Ronda Rousey has already played an interesting move. The first fight for next week is the two first pick female in each of the teams. I’m intrigued and I will definitely be watching this season. I truly believe that the women will outshine the men but I think this is the point. Similar to the first season of TUF, the majority of the women are hugely experienced. Time will tell.
Arun Paul Smith