It all started nine years ago on a little known TV network, at a time when people still thought of the UFC as barbaric and even went as far as labeling it human cockfighting. If you were in the small group of people that followed the sport, you knew it was far removed from those days and had evolved into a legitimate sport instead of a spectacle event.
Fast forward to today and the names Josh Koscheck, Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping, Chris Leben, Kenny Florian, and Nate Diaz just to name a few, are recognized by even casual MMA fans. They have all gone thru the TUF house and gone on to have successful careers in the sport
Three champions, eleven title challengers, two Hall of Famers and that was from the first five seasons. These guys on the early seasons came in the house with a fire in their eyes and determination in their hearts and it was obvious in every fight.
Somewhere along the way that was lost. Now you’re proud of yourself if you can remember who the winner of the season was and its almost impossible to name two or three fighters that didn’t win. The fights are forgettable and the house is more like MTV’s The Real World except that the fight they tease about all season happens at the end of every episode.
It’s apparent to everyone that the quality of the show has declined but it’s hard to pinpoint what the cause of this is. It could be the over saturation of the show, the fact that it seems like the personalities of the fighters are taken into consideration more than fighting skill, or that the focus now revolves around the rivalry between the coaches instead of the fighters themselves. White himself is aware of the product as well as the fighters it produces becoming stale and tried the live format and started the international versions which in my opinion have been failures
What a better approach would be is to hold the tryouts in all these countries and bring them all together on one show, while the language barrier might exist it would produce better quality fights which in essence is the whole point of the show and not ratings. The show has turned into one long promotional tour for a fight that if we’re lucky and no one gets injured we get to watch at the end of the season.
If you asked me what I remembered from the most recent season I would probably name off a few instances where Ronda Rousey showed how awful of a person she really is. If you asked me the same question about the first season obviously the Forrest and Stephan fight but also Chris Leben sitting alone outside crying after losing his fight to Koscheck or Bobby Southworth going through hell to try and make weight. The love and passion for the sport isn’t as noticeable now as it was back then and that shouldn’t be an issue for young and hungry fighters.
There’s always an exception and it’s no different in this situation. John Dodson recently fought for a title, T.J. Dillashaw isn’t too far away from a title shot either, and Brad Tavares is beginning to make some waves in his division but you don’t see more than a few stick around the promotion for very long. A lot of them fight in the finale and we never see them again.
With all that said I’m still a fan of the show and grateful that it’s been taking up my Wednesday nights for years now but I still hope that it one day returns to producing Hall of fame fighters and serious contenders instead prelim card fillers and guys that clearly weren’t ready for the big show (I’m looking at you Kody Mackenzie).
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