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Random Rant: Time to get excited about “The Ultimate Fighter” again (TUF 7)

In case you missed it, our friends at broke the news yesterday that it appears that one of the new wrinkles for “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV show promised by UFC president Dana White is that the final cast has been expanded from 16 fighters to 32. And all fighters must fight and win before they can be assigned to a team and allowed to take up residence in the TUF mansion.

I have no inside info on the concept in which Spike plans to deliver the possible addition of 16 fights to the show’s season. However, the news has me extremely excited and curious. Curious enough that I’ve actually been trying to envision how the new format will look and how the additional fights will be presented.

I envision two scenarios:

1) The fights will all be recorded and shown in a montage. The show opens with Dana White in front of 32 hungry fighters saying, “Do you want to be a f#$%@#* fighter!? Well, we made some changes for this season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and one of those changes happens right now. You’re going to have to fight your way into the house… right now!” They then cut to a reaction shot of some fighters being excited about fighting right away while others react and go, “Oh crap, I have to fight right now!?” Then we’ll see some confessional interviews and a minor buildup of some of the more interesting fighters. From there, Mr. Narrator will say some words, they’ll cut to a commercial and when they come back we’re blitzed with a montage of the finishes to the fights and Mr. Narrator voice talks about who goes into the house and who goes home.


2) They take a huge departure from the show’s format and they show wall-to-wall fights for the first 3-4 episodes. What if TUF became a fight show and we see ALL 16 first-round fights in their entirety with no editing? What if the initial drama was simply winning and losing and who stays and who goes? No drama over who ends up on what team, who misses their girlfriend, angry outbursts, etc. What I envision with this format is similar to BodogFIGHT’s format with a bunch of fights taped in a secure location. Many hardcore fans have asked for a weekly fight show that isn’t a reality show. It’s a tremendous asset for a promotion to have a weekly TV presence as opposed to a periodical one. One day we’ll see a live weekly MMA fight series like the old Tuesday Night Fights on USA and the Friday Night Fights that currently air on ESPN2. But a live weekly series isn’t in the cards right now and the Bodog format of showing first run fights that are taped might be a better concept than some people want to give credit for.

I am hearby publicly begging the UFC and Spike TV to go with scenario two. Blow us away by completely revamping the show and showing us every single first round fight. I don’t think this concept is too radical. Look at American Idol. They don’t start with the final field of contestants and instead take you inside the final casting process showing everyone the good, the bad, and the ugly. Showing every single fight for the first 3-4 episodes is similar in that viewers will be brought into the final round of casting by seeing who actually makes the final cast of 16 and goes into the house.

One request though; if the UFC and Spike TV go with a wall-to-wall fights format I hope they use announcers. No announcing for one fight at the end of a show is fine. But I find there’s an overwhelming lack of energy when multiple fights are shown with no announcing and no crowd. Hearing Matt Serra yell, “I need you to breath for me! DON’T YOU TAP!” is okay for the first few minutes but ten minutes of nothing but communication from the corner becomes a little stagnant. I understand there can’t be a crowd there due to the risk of someone running to the Internet and immediately spilling the beans, but the announcers can be sworn to secrecy. Hell, why not have Forrest Griffin and Rampage do the announcing with Mike Goldberg for the first round of fights before anyone is assigned to their team? It would be very interesting to hear them talk about fighters they may end up “drafting” and it would be a great way to expose more of the public to their personalities.

Wow, suddenly I am excited about “The Ultimate Fighter” again!

While I am in beg mode, let me also politely request that Spike TV turn the April 2 UFC Fight Night 13 telecast into a three-hour extravaganza. The card is way too stacked to just show four matches. There are usually repeats of “Unleashed” at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. that serve as a warmup before the live broadcast. But what better way to get us hyped for the feature matches by showing us some live prelims? I realize a three hour Fight Night telecast and a season premiere of TUF 7 means four hours of first-run MMA programming but real fans will hang for the entire duration.

Click here for additional information (including cast spoilers) on the upcoming season of TUF 7 from Five Ounces of Pain!

  • Sam Cupitt says:

    I have to say I agree with you with the whole showing all the fights of UFC Fight Night 13.

    Way too many good fights on that card, but they will probably be worried about people getting burned out before the Ultimate Fighter.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    We can handle it Sam! Put them on at 8… people will tune in when they are ready. Nobody is tuning out before any of the main events or TUF 7.

  • Jay K. says:

    I like your scenario two. However, they do need the in-house shennanigans to provide these noobs with Spike tv exposure. How many people know Chris Lytle now as to prior to the show?

  • woooburn says:

    good ideas! hopefully this is the first of many positive changes for the series. but you missed one thing: “Mr. Narrator” is mike rowe (the guy from dirty jobs). i still think they should have him guest commentate a fight night. dude is hilarious. i really like the idea of rampage and forrest commentating the first round of fights, but i think it’ll definitely be the “montage” approach. maybe they’ll show all the relevant parts of the fights, and then put them online in their entirety, after the show airs.

    oh, and did anyone predict this change to the show, in that contest you ran?

  • Sam Cupitt says:

    I’ve always thought they should get Joe Rogan involved somehow with TUF. Dana White is good as a presence but at times he has trouble co ordinating his hand with his mouth when he says “two five minute rounds”

    If you had Joe Rogan on the show, when you had those 16 preliminary fights going you could have him, Rampage and Forrest head off into some sort of sound proof area and they could commentate the fights, while getting Rampages and Griffins thoughts on the fighters and what they were looking for etc.

  • Gong says:

    Sam – That’s a really great idea about the commentating. It might also open up future commentating spots on UFC cards for either fighter if they do a good enough job.

    I’ve always assumed that they were going with scenario 1 since they seem to enjoy the mandrama so much, but scenario 2 would be fantastic. It’ll give you a fairly decent idea on who to watch out for in future fights, too. I just have an issue with an Andy Wang vs. Danny Abadi sort of fight. Here’s to hoping they cast some great people this season.

  • Jeremy says:

    Yeah, when I saw the story posted on mmajunkie I thought the same exact thing Sam. Show me all the fights!!! If it takes 3-4 episodes, that’s fine by me. Dana can still comment on each one if he likes in between. That would be a HUGE blitz to start the new season and immediately get us interested in the fighters. And it’s also a much better evaluation tool for the coaches then having them just train back-to-back.

  • Sam Cupitt says:

    I think it will be interesting to see how they set up the first 16 fights. We all think its just weed out the lesser fighters, but if it’s drawn randomly we could have some of the better fighters match up against each other.

    That probably won’t happen which will mean it will basically be Dana White saying, “You’re good… you’re a can… you’re good… you’re a can”. Should make for good viewing if one of these underestimated guys squeaks through.

  • Evan says:

    “I’ve always thought they should get Joe Rogan involved somehow with TUF.”

    I agree but I think he is always on tour between PPV’s and UFC fight nights.

  • Jeremy says:

    Sam Cupitt, I thought about the draw as well, how they would do it. I gotta think Dana is going to have a strong hand in that. In previous seasons he has tried to get the guys to take easier fights first that he thought were good candidates to win. If I remember right he wasn’t happy at all that Burkman and Guillard wanted to fight each other in their first fight.

    Personally I want the 16 best fighters on the show, but I also want the prelims to be fair here. I’d have to have some guy with a 0-0 record have to take on Tim Credeur or someone like that.

  • Sam Cupitt says:

    Yeah I remember he didnt like Guillard/Burkman or Bonnar/Southworth.

    I reckon they may evaluate the fighters in training to begin with and then Dana, Rampage, and Griffin will get together and work out matchups to see how the guys perform in real situations and which dudes they want on their team.

  • Derek B. says:

    I don’t care which house member is having sex with the ring girl.

    I want to see Fights…not drama!!

  • Nate says:

    I like that they are changing up the format. I’ve only watched up to TUF2, and am waiting on TUF3 now from netflix, but I get disappointed when fighters balk on the fights.
    I really want them to be excited to put themselves out there. I hope they show all the fights in the beginning too.


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