Season 16 of Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) reality television series "The Ultimate Fighter" (TUF) kicked off Friday night (Sept. 14, 2012) with the standard cutting in half of the original field of 32 competitors, all foaming at the mouth and looking for an opportunity to be top-notch professional fighters.
It's the first season that the UFC and FX have opted to switch back to the standard, delayed format, after trying out the LIVE format in season 15 and finding it to be a swing and a miss with fans.
The initial fights featured were a dynamic grouping of results. There were a few brutal knockouts and some spectacular submissions, but there were also some absolute yawners as well.
After it was all said and done, UFC President Dana White was quick to point out the fighters who emerged victorious in dramatic fashion, which was not only a compliment to that particular group, but also a bit of a warning flare to the rest of the pack, signaling the need for them to step their game up.
When the dust had settled, here's how the draft picks lined up and the teams were aligned:
At first glance, Team Carwin would appear to have the more athletic and exciting team. But, we know mixed martial arts (MMA) fights aren't won on paper (or on Twitter), they're fought in the Octagon.
Based on the preview clips, there appears to be a large amount of drama and in-house fighting in store for the viewers this season. It may have just worked out that way, but it also could be a strategic move by the UFC to heighten the interest after last season, which seemed to veer away from that bent and more towards the actual live fights.
One thing's for sure: the onus will be on the fighters to keep things fresh and exciting this season, because if it's up to the coaches, TUF 16 may end up being sponsored by Ambien and Nyquil. Nelson and Carwin have both been a part of some very exciting and memorable UFC fights, but their respective personalities are not going to be great for ratings.
On the bright side, this season should give fans some great opportunities for devising drinking games. How many times will Roy Nelson's gut be brought up? How often will Dana White roll his eyes when "Big Country" makes off the wall comments? How many minutes into the next episode will it be before a fighter states that he's "doing this for his kids?"
In the meantime, feel free to leave your bold predictions in the comment section. Who is your early favorite to win it all and take down the glass trophy and the six-figure UFC contract?