Why you should be watching ‘The Ultimate Fighter’
Since 2005 “The Ultimate Fighter” (TUF) reality show has given us nine seasons of great television. It is the best and most realistic reality show on the tube. The show has changed it format over the years, but the concept remains the same. Put sixteen up & coming fighters in an elimination tournament, winner gets a six-figure contract with the UFC. Some have taken the opportunity to propel themselves to stardom, others not so much.
We’ve seen the best in people and the worst. With the good always comes the bad. Over the years there has been an ugly side to the show. An ugly side put in by the producers to make it “more entertaining.” What do you expect to happen when you put sixteen men in a house with no contact to the outside world? No TV, phone, computer, newspaper- just an unlimited supply of alcohol. When the booze flows and tempers flare, fists are gonna fly. Some seasons are tamer than others.
Harmless practical jokes like hiding clothes or fight gear in some. Piss filled fruit cups and cum drenched sushi in others. Most of the time, I don’t give a shit about what goes on in the house. It’s what goes on inside the cage that matters! I have watched every episode of every season and I will continue to do so. Why? Because “The Ultimate Fighter” is the ultimate tournament and you have an all-access pass. Some of the earliest fighters from the show are UFC stars today. UFC fans have watched them grow from up & coming fighters to big name superstars. Is there a better way to become a fan or hater of a fighter? Lets take a look back at some of my favorite seasons and fighters from the past as well as a quick look into the future.
Season 1– Do you want to be a fucking fighter? The show that launched the UFC to the next level and introduced the world to Dana White. His ass kicking “do you want to be a fighter” speech may be the most inspirational in sports history. The coaches for the first season were UFC legends’ Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell. During the show the teams competed in challenges to determine who would fight. Challenges like chopping wood or completing an obstacle coarse. From the beginning, you could see the torture the fighters put their body through. You could see who had what it takes and who didn’t. Those that did survive the training and showed they had the heart of a fighter, were greatly rewarded. UFC stars Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian, Mike Swick, Chris Leben, Stephan Bonner and Josh Koscheck were all contestants on season 1. The standout moment from the season came from its live finale. The LHW showdown between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonner. The fight that Dana White has said “is the single most important fight in UFC history!”
Season 2 of TUF introduced the world to future UFC stars like Rashad Evans, Keith Jardine, Joe Stevenson and Marcus Davis. The highlight of the show however was not the fighters, but the coaches. Unlike most seasons of the show, the coaches had no issues with each other. They weren’t even scheduled to fight after the season. Why so memorable then? Coaches Matt Hughes and Rich Franklin, both then champions in their weight division, were polar opposites. Franklin was laid back and easy going. Hughes came off as a hard ass drill sergeant. He also came off as quite cocky while Franklin seemed very humble. It was very interesting to see two champions completely different approach to coaching.
Season 3 may go down as the most dominant and dysfunctional of all. Stars such as Michael Bisping, Matt Hamill, Kendall Grove and Ed Herman all participated. Coaches Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock had a long standing, unresolved feud. It didn’t take long for Tito to get under Kens skin. Hall of Famer Shamrock demands respect and he got none from Ortiz. By the end, he got none from his team either. Right off the bat, Team Ortiz dominated the fights and eliminated Team Shamrock one by one. In fact, Ed Herman was the only Team Shamrock member to win a fight. As Kens’ team started to dwindle, they began to bicker and fight with their coach. The season was total anarchy!
Season 5 was very entertaining, a bit different and extremely funny. While it did have the feuding coaches in BJ Penn and Jens Pulver, season 5 was the first dedicated to just one weight class- Lightweights. Yes, the heat was great between Pulver and Penn and the show introduced us to LW sensations Nate Diaz, Gray Maynard and Joe Lauzon. However, none were the highlight. When I said we sometimes saw the worst in people, I meant Gabe Ruediger. By far the funniest moment in series history has to be Gabe trying and failing to cut weight. You can’t script that kind of comedy!
What the future holds for contestants from seasons 6 through 9 is still unclear…
Guys like Ben Saunders, Matt Brown, Mac Danzig, Tim Credeur, C.B. Dalloway and Ryan Bader are fast rising stars. Lots of talent came out of each season and ratings for the show are still decent. The season 9 premier was the highest in 2 years and the finale did even better. But that doesn’t matter, it won’t compare to next season. Season 10 of TUF may be the biggest ever. Not only are all the fighters heavyweights. Some are known, some are not. Four members of the cast are former NFL players. Also part of the cast are former IFL HW champion Roy Nelson and UFC bad guy Wes Sims. But the biggest member of the show is internet sensation Kimbo Slice. It’s going to be a ratings juggernaut! If you haven’t been watching the show, you should. You may see a future champion starting his career.
About Phil Devine Phil is a producer and co-host of "Sirius Fight Club" which airs on Sirius 127 / XM 105 @ 5-7pm ET Live Tuesdays & Fridays.