If it wasn’t for The Ultimate Fighter, we wouldn’t be here right now.
As in all of us. The UFC probably wouldn’t be around. I wouldn’t be here writing this blog post, and you wouldn’t have 30+ too many MMA events to complain about on a Monday morning. It’d be terrible.
Fortunately, The Ultimate Fighter did exist. And on April 9th, 2005 a strange confluence of random chance propelled the finale fight between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin into the most important 15 minutes in UFC history. Tons of people caught it while channel surfing past Spike TV, and they in turn called tons more. Next thing you knew, an entire generation of young adults got into this MMA thing, making ratings and PPV buys soar. It saved the UFC from shutting down. We affectionately call that time the ‘TUF Era’ now.
Nearly 15 years later, it ain’t the TUF Era no more. After 27 more seasons, even the UFC had to admit the format had gotten stale and they were giving the tournament reality show series a break. But Dana White isn’t one to let anything from the early 2000s go easily. One day I swear he’ll spearhead the re-emergence of nu-metal, but right now he’s focused on reviving TUF.
“[Craig] Piligian and I are working on “The Ultimate Fighter” right now,” White said after last week’s Tuesday Night Contender Series event (via MMA Fighting). “We’ll figure [the timeline for the return] tonight. They’re waiting for me for dinner right now.”
“We’re going to switch some things around, do some things different but I truly believe that The Ultimate Fighter is so key in building young talent. This show is fun and guys come in but what they have to go through with cameras in their face 24/7, being away from home, being away from their families and all the bulls**t, hardcore training everyday with these dream camps that are f**king built, cutting weight, staying on weight, you’ll never go through anything harder than The Ultimate Fighter.”
Some have said the format is flawed because it requires too many cuts too quickly and sequesters fighters away from their entire life for no real reason, taking interesting people and dropping them into a bland monotonous training montage where the only entertainment comes from the losers soaking their sorrows in booze.
But White thinks that pressure ultimately creates diamonds.
“So if you can make it through The Ultimate Fighter and actually win it, if you go back throughout history and look at The Ultimate Fighter and the fighters that have come off their, it is just the greatest training ground ever for up and coming fighters. It can’t go away ever.”
Hopefully Craig Piligian has some fresh new ideas to revitalize the show. We won’t deny a lot of good talent has gone through the TUF house, but it’s been a real chore watching the same thing over and over again for 15 years. The continued existence of ‘Bring The Pain’ exemplifies the UFC’s resistance to change, but here’s hoping this time they recognize an overhaul needs to happen and it needs to be complete.