The Ultimate Fighter serves two primary purposes for the UFC. One, is to aquaint fans with the sport of MMA and the UFC brand through exposure on SPIKE TV and a reality show. Second, to bring in new talent into the UFC. The Ultimate Fighter 10 has been a huge success from a ratings stand point and it may even be good from a talent infusion stand point. However, I believe there has been a lull in the success of previous seasons. The first 3 seasons were fairly successful. Season 5 was successful from a talent standpoint. However, very few fighters have come into the UFC from TUF 6-9. I believe there are a few reasons for that…
1. A Lack of Fresh Ideas – With the exception of the US vs. UK idea.
2. Too Much Focus on the House Antics – a la Junie Browning
3. Too Many Lightweight Seasons – right or wrong fans like heavyweights. Its true in boxing and it is true in MMA. TUF 10 case in point.
So what can the UFC do to keep the rating up. I have a feeling after this season they will need to do something special. Dana White hinted at that in a recent interview and he said he was halfway done with the idea and that TUF 11 would be a good season. Let me give a few ideas.
1. Have a season that taps into the Japanese fighters and the Brazilian fighters. Both countries are producing a vast amounts of fighters and the UFC could really do well to use them. The UFC was on to something with the US vs. UK, but perhaps a more global season. Heck, they could use TUF to tap into other places as well. The UFC has shown a serious desire to go global and what better way than through TUF. I believe that this is possible. The UFC has held TUF seasons in other countries such as the Philippines, but I have heard nothing about it. This would fit their expansion plans. The language barrier would be the only obstacle. They could have TUF 11: World’s Collide. They could have coaches representing their continents (e.g. Yushin Okami or Yoshihiro Akiyama from Asia, Wanderlei Silva from South America, Bisping from Europe, and Marquardt from North America.)
2. Have a marketable star on the show – Kimbo Slice has boosted ratings greatly. I believe it is possible on TUF 11 to see BJJ wiz Robert Drysdale, but that does not mean much to the casual MMA fan. They are likely also to feature some UFC vets on future seasons. David Loiseau has expressed his desire to fight in TUF as has Rob Yundt.
3. Have a marketable coach – I personally enjoy most coaching selections. I loved Nogueira as a coach. However, guys like Hughes and Henderson lack the charisma. Rampage and Forrest were okay as it Rashad and Team Jackson. The best answer may be Brock Lesnar. I do not know what he can contribute, but he comes from a good camp and can certainly draw ratings.
A note to the UFC, please do not do another comeback season.
here is what I want in TUF…good and competitive fighters who have a real future in the UFC and who may really one day challenge for the title, good coaching for those fighters, some star power, and some entertainment.