Thursday, April 7, 2011

Has The Ultimate Fighter Run Its Course?

When the Ultimate Fighter first aired back in 2005 the show was meant to showcase young up-and-coming fighters in the world of Mixed Martial Arts.  The contestants were some of the best fighters not currently fighting in a major promotion and for the most part they were all extremely talented.  Most of the competitors from the first few seasons still fight in the UFC today and some have even gone on to become champions.  But that trend seems to be over as the latest crop of fighters in the past few seasons have been mediocre at best which leads me to wonder if TUF has run its course.

If you look at the first 3 seasons of the TUF compared to the last 3 the level of talent isn't even close.  The competitors on the more recent seasons seem far less experienced and in the case of the Heavyweights during season 10 unable to go more than 90 seconds before becoming exhausted.  There have been a few diamonds in the rough here and there but overall the talent just isn't there.

Here are some of the fighters from the first 3 seasons that are still relevant within the UFC:

Josh Koscheck
Forrest Griffin (former champ)
Stephan Bonnar
Diego Sanchez
Kenny Florian
Chris Leben
Joe Stevenson
Melvin Guillard
Rashad Evans (former champ)
Michael Bisping
Matt Hammill

Now compare that list to the fighters from the last 3 seasons that are relevant or have a bright future (not counting the current season)

Brendan Schaub
Roy Nelson (barely counts as he was a well established fighter before appearing on the show)
Matt Mittrione
Court McGee
Michael Johnson
Jonathan Brookins

The level of talent has clearly dropped off as all of the really good fighters have seemingly already been found and are either fighting in a major promotion or working with solid camps and on the UFC radar.  So over the past few seasons the fighters, and their performances, have been less than impressive and its starting to really hurt the show.

If you have been watching this season you know what I am talking about.  Only 2 episodes in and so far both fights have been brutal to watch.  The lack of excitement compounded with the fact that both representatives of Team Dos Santos were top picks makes me less then enthused to watch the remainder of the season.  Add that to the general lack of charisma that the coaches for this season (Brock Lesnar and Junior Dos Santos) possess and it makes for some dull television.

But the lack of charisma from the coaches showcases yet another problem with the show.  Since the fighters are so awful the show now needs to be carried by the personality of the coaches.  This has morphed the show into a 10-12 episode hype video for an eventual fight. 

This was especially evident when Rashad Evans and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson were coaches during season 10.  Each episode would feature footage of the two fighters arguing with one another, one coach pulling a prank on the other and then the last 10 minutes were reserved for the fight. 

It was interesting television and it may have built anticipation for their fight, but it detracted from the actual contestants on the show.  No fighter really got any airtime, other than Kimbo Slice, and by the end of the season I didn’t really care who won.
The latest rumor is that the coaches will be middleweights Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping.  The two would then fight upon completion of the show with the winner of that fight becoming the No. 1 contender at Middleweight.  That person would then likely fight Anderson Silva after he fights the current No. 1 contender Youshin Okami.  

Now with Bisping and Sonnen being tagged as possible coaches, the dynamic of the coaches being more important than the fighters will be multiplied tenfold as both fighters have extremely big egos and love to talk trash.   Will it be entertaining?  Of course, but I was under the impression that the point of TUF was to showcase potential UFC fighters and get fans interested in their careers, not to hear two fighters disrespect one another.

I love TUF and I will watch it no matter what just because I'm an MMA fan, but I really hope the UFC either changes the format somehow or gets a higher level of fighter to compete because if the show continues the way its been going over the past few seasons then I think it might be time for TUF to come off the air before it does more harm than good.

Random YouTube Video


Kyleevans'Brain said...

Holy shit, if you watch the recommended clip from karate kid 2 at the end of that vid, you will find out that B.D. Wong is was in karate kid 2.

Wych said...

The Nevada State Athletic Commission is refusing to allow Sonnen to do the show as he is currently under suspension for failing his drug test in California. Most recent rumour I've heard is Mayhem might switch from Strikeforce and coach against Bisping.