by “The Entity” Tim Stroud
The Ultimate Fighter just finished its 13th season with Tony Ferguson beating Ramsey Nijem by first round KO (punches). The 14th season of TUF will begin taping later this month with Michael Bisping and Jason “Mayhem” Miller as the coaches. Bisping and Miller will be in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale on December 3rd.
There have been rumblings in the MMA community that TUF is not relevant anymore. It’s true that the ratings have not always been up to par and the talent might seem a little watered down at times. But the majority of TUF winners, and some losers, have gone on to have a successful career with the UFC.
It’s easy to understand why people think that TUF isn’t what it once was. Just look back at the Forrest Griffin/Stephan Bonnar fight from Season 1. That fight helped put the UFC on the map.
The UFC has tried different methods to put a spark into the show. They created “The Comeback” in Season 4, which put the winners of each weight class in a title fight. Matt Serra took advantage of his opportunity and won the show & his title fight with Georges St. Pierre.
The UFC also started having fighters compete to become official cast members on Season 7. The excitement of watching the guys fight to get into the TUF house was a great way to start the season. They’ve even tried to bring in fans with street fighters like internet star Kimbo Slice on Season 10. Even though he was defeated early, the fans stuck around to see Rashad Evans & Quinton “Rampage” Jackson go at each other.
Finally, in the eleventh season, they started the “wildcard” slot. The “wildcard” fight was created to pair two losing fighters for one last chance to get back into the competition. Kris McCray benefited from the “wildcard” addition to get to the finals, only to lose to Court McGee, who was brought back in to replace an injured Rich Attonito.
Sure it’s easy to say that TUF isn’t relevant anymore, but the UFC always finds a way to keep it fresh. Yes, there will be drunken arguments, shady characters and bad fights, but that’s part of its charm. Some amazing fighters have come out of the TUF house and gone on to win or compete in title fights. Not only does the audience get to know new fighters, techniques and styles each season, but they get to see two UFC fighters coach before they go head to head in the octagon.
Here is the real question, Is The Ultimate Fighter still relevant to you?
Tim Stroud is a Kentucky-based writer. Follow him on Twitter @TheEntityMMA