Why Fans Should Still Tune Into The Ultimate Fighter
By Calum Christie
The Ultimate Fighter 28: Heavy Hitters season finale is approaching us live from The Palms Casino Resort with Rafael Dos Anjos (28-10) vs Kamaru Usman (13-1) confirmed to headline the card in Las Vegas on the 30th of November.
Many MMA fans have fallen out of love with the TV Show with viewership ratings at an all time low. Let’s take a look at why The Ultimate Fighter should still be apart of mainstream viewing for UFC fans.
Let’s paint the picture, it’s 2005, The UFC is struggling to draw viewers and the Feritta brothers are ready to pull the plug on the debt ridden UFC. Step up The Ultimate Fighter which made its debut on Spike TV thirteen years ago as a last resort to save the company, nobody knew what this was going to be or where it would lead to but it was a major success.
Many believe that it was the Ultimate final finale between Forrest Griffin (19-7) and Stephan Bonnar (15-9) that saved the UFC from closing the doors which drew millions of viewers and launched the sport into the mainstream. It’s easy to forget with the past few years of the Ultimate Fighter seasons that it was a major part in the companies history and for that sole purpose UFC fans should be grateful that the reality TV show kept the product alive for viewers to enjoy to this very present day.
As fans we love to experience the story and the journey of fighters. The Ultimate Fighter is fantastic for this with the TV shows production, from viewing home videos about the fighters family to how they got involved in MMA and what keeps them hungry to become a UFC Champion. You get to view the hardship and struggles of the fighters having to be at the TUF house away from their families for a long period of time and you get to experience the highs that come when they achieve success. Once the show is over and the contestants who are lucky enough to get an opportunity inside the octagon outside of TUF then you will know exactly who they are and what their story is, and that will build up interest when it comes to their big opportunity rather than being another fighter on the card you are not familiar with.
In terms of quality the Ultimate Fighter has produced 8 UFC champions (2 inaugural) and many contenders during the shows 13 year existence. Such names as: Robert Whittaker (20-4), Rashad Evans (19-8) and Michael Bisping (30-9) have all endured the Ultimate Fighter process and came out at the pinnacle of the sport standing with a UFC title around their waist at some point in their career and the Ultimate Fighter must be credited for that.
TUF really pushes the fighters to grow their technical abilities and also be mentally tough therefore once the show is complete it makes that transition onto the main roster a lot more easier and manageable which sets the contestant up for success.
This Friday night at The Ultimate Fighter 28 finale, Kamaru Usman with a victory over Rafael Dos Anjos could find himself next in line for a crack at Tyron Woodley’s (19-3) 170lb strap – ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Usman who was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 21: American Top Team vs Blackzilians with a victory over Hayder Hassan (7-4).
Each season there is 2 coaches appointed who usually then compete against each other at some point down the line. Take for instance the coaches of this years show: Robert Whittaker vs Kelvin Gastelum (15-3) who will headline UFC 224 for ‘The Reapers’ middleweight belt. The show helps build up the rivalry between the two coaches and TUF 25 really showed that when it was T.J Dillashaw (16-3) vs Cody Garbrandt (11-2) where numerous times there was arguments and physical altercations which made for great viewing and really built up the hype for their original bout at UFC 217 at MSG where T.J dillashaw left Cody ‘No Love’ sprawled across the canvas to ensure he became the bantamweight champion for the second time in his UFC career.
And finally for all the lovers of the Pride and K-1 days the Ultimate Fighter has a knockout tournament format. Many fans first time falling in love with the sport was due to the early pride tournaments and more recently Bellator has enjoyed a lot of success with Bellators Grand Prix tournaments which are great for bringing excitement and competitiveness to our TV screens. Tournaments are also great for the fans imagination because it’s great to sit down and look at the brackets and look at all the potential matchups that may possibly happen down the line.
The Ultimate Fighter 28 has had one of the lowest viewership rates with the average rating on FS1 being around only 170k viewers. Is the Ultimate Fighter lacking in freshness? Is DWTNC Series getting more a push? Is there a lack of advertisements for the recent Ultimate fighters? Nobody is sure, but one thing for certain is that it would be a real piece of history being pulled if they turn the lights off and shut the door on the Ultimate Fighter series.