By Jake Cochran
Sept. 14 was the premiere of Season 16 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” and it had the lowest ratings of any season’s debut, while 947,000 isn’t terrible for a Friday, it’s a far cry from it’s glory days.
A common sentiment with fans of the series is that, they just feel it’s blurring together and it’s just not an interesting format anymore, and it’s just over done after 16 seasons.
Every season there is always going to be a ringer whom no one really recognizes and then delve a little deeper into the fighter’s history. The person has a fight against a current champion and it turns out he is miles ahead of everyone else, like Jonathan Brookins.
Then the producers put the fighter in the house just to mess with everyone and that person ends up having minimal talent other than the fact that he has a knack for getting under the skin of everyone. Sometimes this person ends up turning it around after a couple fights in the UFC but during the series he is hopeless. Still, he somehow manages to make it to the quarterfinals, like Josh Koscheck or Matt Mitrione.
By far the most frustrating thing about the series recently though, has been its emphasis on staying in the lighter weight classes. While I’m well aware the organization has recently added bantamweight and featherweight and was trying to expand those divisions, there is absolutely no need for another season on lightweights.
The lightweight division is arguable the most competitive and deep division in the sport, UFC does not need to be using a reality TV series to gain new competitors for this division. It can just take any number of lightweights from any other promotion because when you are 155 pounds, you don’t have a ton of sports options. You really can’t be a linebacker like the heavyweights can.
UFC needs to get back to what gave them the best ratings and give the people what they want to see. They need Heavyweights. For chrissakes, UFC 146 was an all-heavyweight main card and sold like gangbusters. Make another heavyweight season.
The talent is out there and the fighters want to get back to the UFC, so make them go the same route Kimbo Slice had to go, send them through the TUF house. Tim Sylvia wants to get back in the UFC so badly, make him live in a house with Andrei Arlvoski, Brett Rodgers and a bunch of other guys and have them fight for a contract. That season practically just sold itself.
The coaches could be practically anyone, they could have literally the most boring coaches on earth and the fighters in that house would sell the season, because at this point how many of the past few coaches have actually fought each other. Then to narrow that down, how many of those fights were actually competitive or good fights?
Faber and Cruz never fought, Junior and Brock never got to fight, Chuck and Tito didn’t fight, Rampage-Rashad and Serra-Hughes took about a thousand years to happen, and most recently Vitor and Wanderlei coached TUF Brazil, and they didn’t fight. So really why even bother building all this animosity between coaches when in the end, they don’t even fight each other.
Then if you think about when Rampage and Evans finally did get to lock horns, Rampage looked like he should have stuck with acting and saved himself that embarrassing fight. I’m not saying that Rashad outclassed him; I’m saying it was a poor performance on both fighters.
But if you want to find a fight that showed someone who did get outclassed, that would be when season 14’s coaches fought, or to be more correct, when Michael Bisping beat up and emaciated Mayhem Miller. I’m not sure what the circumstances were that lead Mayhem Miller to look so terrible but he never seemed to get his mojo back and went on to lose one more fight in the UFC before getting cut and retiring.
To sum up the points I’m trying to make here though, The Ultimate Fighter can still be successful, it just needs some tweaking and for the love of all things holy, take the series off Friday nights. The target demographic is not at home on Fridays at 10pm.