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The Internet is a TUF crowd… or maybe not

There seems to be a growing backlash towards the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” In seasons past, it made a lot of sense to me but it doesn’t make much sense to me now.

I can find little fault with the episodes from the past two weeks. What hardcore fans are getting is exactly what they wanted: more fighting, less drama. Between this week and last, we’ve been able to watch four total fights. The focus of each show was built almost exclusively around the actual fights.

Quick question: when is is the last time we’ve even gotten to see the “TUF mansion?” The “TUF mansion” has been de-emphasized so much the past few weeks that I’m beginning to wonder if this year’s TUF cast is living at the gym and sleeping under the cage.

Have the fights been the best? Well, yes and no. I really, really enjoyed the Gerald Harris vs. Amir Sadollah fight. It was fluid, had a lot of action, and contained a surprise ending. While Cale Yarbrough vs. Patrick Schultz was a little sloppy, it wasn’t a bad fight and it beats the heck out of contrived drama.

Fight quality is still an issue but it is an issue for which there is no obvious cure. I will say this, this year’s talent pool is infinitely better than last year’s, but it still does not rival the all-star cast from TUF 1. When the first season of TUF debuted, there were a handful of national promotions. Now, there are tons of them. More prominent national spots for fighters means that the talent pool on the regional level will be much thinner.

In additional to the regional talent pool not being what it once was, some fighters are simply saying no to TUF. There are fighters that simply do not want to spend six weeks in seclusion and would rather get into the UFC through conventional means. More managers are also advising their fighters to pass on TUF over concerns of getting locked into an extended contract that prevents them from re-negotiating until they’ve fought 9-12 times for the UFC.

For example, fighters such as Jake Rosholt and Mike Massenzio are future stars at 185 pounds but aren’t involved with this year’s cast. Both are worthy of fighting in the UFC and will likely have the option to do so without spending six weeks away from their friends and family. And should they sign, they will be able to put their John Hancocks on a contract that is much more favorable to them financially in the long-term.

But the cast is what it is, and it’s certainly not bad. Fighters such as C.B. Dalloway, Matt Brown, Dante Rivera, and Tim Credeur will prove to be solid additions to the UFC roster. We also have two of the most dynamic coaches in the history of the show. So we’ve got entertaining coaches; good fighters with upside; and less drama with more fighting. What else is there? To say Internet fans are fickle would be an understatement. Aside from pumping a ton of money into the show and going live, is there really much that the UFC and Spike can do to satisfy fans?

I think the problem is the fact that when TUF first started it was a fresh and unique concept. We’re now seven seasons in and it’s largely the same music, same logos, same format, and the same stories over and over again. We’ve gotten two seasons a year since 2005 and I think the public is simply burnt out on the show and that there might not be anything that can be done to save the show. It’s kind of like the Star Trek television franchise in that the quality of the shows become irrelevant, as  it simply gets to a point where people just can’t buy into the shows anymore because it becomes overkill.

Plans for TUF 8 are already in motion but Zuffa and Spike TV might want to explore the possibility of expediting plans for their new live fight series because TUF might be a concept that is ready to retire.

27 COMMENTS
  • recently.reaped says:

    personally, I always liked the ‘drama’ of the house and seeing the personalities. I know that’s against the grain of most MAM fans who frequent fiveounces of pain and other hardcore mma sites, but I enjoyed seeing both aspects. Getting to know the fighters beyond the ring and training was appealing to me and this season has less of that.
    the only bad thing from the early seasons to me was the challenges. Some were alright others were disaterous to watch.

    All of the negative reactions on mma forums and sites just goes to show you can’t please these fickle internet warriors who seem to always find something to bitch about.

    it’s really sad how great the internet can be and how badly so many ppl act on it.

    I’m a fan of TUF and I’ve watched every espisode and will continue to do so as long as it’s on.

  • Evan says:

    I enjoy the show. Always have and always will and this season so far has been the best IMO.

  • jaydog says:

    Watching the fight between Cale/Schultz last night, I felt embarrassed and wondered if there wasn’t something productive I should be doing with my family, job, etc. The stand-up looked like two rejects from a Tuff Man competition. Was there a single jab or combo thrown? Or just haymakers from five feet away? One more round? Seriously, coaches?

    Being from Richmond, you’d think I’d be pulling for Amir (apparently another Richmond native). But seeing a really well conditioned, humble, and talented GNP wrestler (and the only person of color in the competition) getting laid out put a damper on my viewing experience. Maybe that’s why I’m so hard on the guys in the second fight. Amir has some charisma, but it’s sad that we won’t see more of Gerald’s slams in episodes to come.

    Aside from these two points, I agree with Sam. I’m only glued to the TUF screen when they’re fighting, training, or featuring the witty coaches. The fact that this episode held my attention (dispite its disappointments) says something about the composition, which is at least a step in the right direction.

  • matt says:

    I personally feel that this season’s fights are the most exciting we’ve had since the inception of the series. All but 2 have finishes and some of these fighters have legit futures in the UFC.

  • the sheik says:

    the format change is nice, I enjoy them showing the fighting aspect more, one of the best season so far

  • Davey D says:

    I was thinking that last night’s episode could’ve been edited better after seeing it. To me, this season has been little different and in essense, it has right from the very start. Maybe just one season per year would be better now that MMA is so big now? That’s for the UFC to decide. Either way, I am a fan and will watch it as often as I can.

    I agree that a lot of the “better” fighter’s will start choosing other method’s to get to the UFC if they want. Some may not want to take the TUF route. To each his own ya’ know.

    The two fight’s last night were entertaining, the first one was more so I think. Amir showed he has a lot of heart after absorbing those slams. Gerald should focus more on his striking and jits, he’ll be a lot better in a year. Cale won his fight with Pat rightfully. I don’t think it was as close as Rampage thought.

  • Zack says:

    Count me in the group that is put off by this season, but it has nothing to do with the TUF mansion. I think my expectations were raised when I heard that the show was going to feature more experienced fighters from big camps and that they had to fight to get on the show. So far, I haven’t seen much from any of these fighters to get me excited. In fact, the thought of having to watch any of these guys on a future pay-per-view is downright depressing (Maybe Dolloway will be the exception). The whole roster looks to be 2-3 years away from being worthy of a main card attraction, and maybe not even Fight Night material.

  • Fujin says:

    “While Cale Yarbrough vs. Patrick Schultz was a little sloppy, it wasn’t a bad fight…”

    Honestly you thought it wasn’t a bad fight? A little sloppy is a little bit of an understatement.

  • Jeremy says:

    Sam, I generally think you hit the nail on the head about TUF. They have done everything I could have thought of to make the show better for this season, and I generally think it is better. But I really do think people are just tired of the show. It definitely doesn’t have the same luster it once did for me, I still watch it each week, but the same excitement certainly is gone.

  • Chi-Town says:

    I like the show. The fights are pretty good, but I wish we could get a little more of a back story on the fighters.

  • Drewplata says:

    Sam-

    You might have stumbled onto the answer. Perhaps they key is moving away from the seclusion and towards more training before the fights start. It seems like the guys’ improvement grows exponentially once they have spent some time with the trainers the show provides. Maybe 3 weeks without the celebrity coaches (but with the real coaches) before the competition began would yield better fights. Also, there has only been one episode with guest coaches. Perhaps more high profile guest coaches would inject some life into the show. Too bad TUF can’t exploit Xtreme Couture’s assets, huh?

  • Zach says:

    Sam, you mention a few of the guys you think have potential, how about Dan Cramer, he made a mess of his opponenets in his first two fights and also seems to have an iron chin.

  • paddiosf says:

    I have to agree with the TUF series is getting alittle boring, since the show now showing 2 fights per episode, it’s less dialogue of the fighters interactions in the house, we really don’t know these guys like previous seasons..I normally look so forward to watching the show every week, now it’s like I don’t care as much..the best part of the show is when Jackson is upset about losing and it appears that he was about to explode in frustration..

  • bjjdenver says:

    I hate to say this, but…

    This season could use a LITTLE more house drama. Not as much as in the past, but certainly more than it has had. Honestly the most anitcipated fight for me was Brown/May, because of the drama.

    I do think they have better, more serious fighters from top to bottom and that is the main thing for me, but a little spice is always good.

    I don’t need to see idiots trashing the house or dropping double-deckers, but a little beef between guys is welcome in a competitive setting.

  • ultmma says:

    -Sam-

    I don’t think the backlash is directed towards this particular season of TUF or this group of 185 cast members.

    The hate is coming from the fact that this is the 8th season and we’ve seen this format 8 times over. ( Rocky VIII) Even the most hardcore MMA fan has to be getting sick of seeing the same thing over and over again. With the same built up drama and the so called “tension'” boiling over between the head coaches.

    TUF needs a break (which won’t happen with season 9 debuting in Sept.) and the fans need a break. The current format has to be taken out back Old Yeller style.

    Hopefully for the 10th season Zuffa and Spike will completely surprise the fans with a new and improved edition of TUF

  • Rolltide says:

    I don’t know why everyone was so negative on Yarbrough vs. Schultz. There have been far worse on previous seasons. Besides Shultz is garbage and shouldn’t be on the show, while Yarbrough is only 21 and has no professional fights.

  • j says:

    The stand up in the last fight was pathetic. I am an amatuer muat thai practitioner and the 1st thing you learn is controlled punches and counters off of rolls and faints. All is saw were 2 guys swininging for the fences. Just pathetic. The 1st fight was ok.

  • […] Caplan issues a defense of the two most recent episodes of the reality show: I can find little fault with the episodes from […]

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    I enjoy TUF, and don’t mind the shift away from hi-jinks in the house. I’d watch it either way, but really, haven’t we seen enough drunken adolescents already? As far as this season’s critics are concerned, there’s some “princess” syndrome at work. “There’s not enough fighting and too much filler in the house.” “No, now there’s too much fighting, and not enough filler in the house.” “Dana, buy me a pony! Waa!”

  • Jackyl says:

    Funny how we want a little MORE house footage now. When just a few weeks ago everyone was denouncing the so called “MMA Real World”. In previous seasons the show has struck a balance between house, training, and fight footage. Who doesn’t remember the Mac Danzig mannequin incident, that was great. The house footage gives you an idea of how the fighters are and makes you care a little more about the fights. I must say that this season I am having a hard time connecting with any of these guys. But it’s always nice to see who blossoms. Amir seems like a strong prospect in the vein of Corey Hill. Josh Koscheck went from what many considered to be a mediocore fighter to a top contender. Sure the talent pool is thinning, but there are plenty of worthy fighters out there. TUF has become an excellent farm system for the UFC. Maybe a change in format and editing and they can keep it going.

  • anonymous says:

    For everyone complaining about the content of the show, or what you do or dont like about it, be it drama or the mansion or background, whatever, think about this> If it wasnt for this show, obviously this discussion wouldnt be happening, and more than likely there wouldnt be many(if any) forums to have this discussion, or any other discussion about mma in general. I watched the ufc personally, up till it fell to pieces, and then was taken off ppv. I gave it up, went on to other things, and with the show was revamped for the sport. Which im sure is the case for most everyone else. Also it brought new ppl in to the sport, and pretty much stamped mma on the face of popular sports today. So what if its not as dynamic as it was since TUF1, as long as its on you’ll still watch it. You’re free to bitch about it, not arguing that, but i promise you, if its gone you will miss it.

  • roomservicetaco says:

    I like the “more fights, less drama” version of TUF. But, the quality of fighters has been extremely low. At this point in the show, Matt Brown seems like one of the better fighters and has the intense personality to go with it. Then you realize he’s something like 9-6 against regional competition. Watching BJ Penn as a lead-in to very minor league fights is just not fair.

    Drewplata has a good suggestion – the more training these guys get, the better product they will put on. Perhaps do 10 weeks of taping, with the first 4 strictly having the contestants train, then 6 of fighting. Or, cut the cast to 8 or 12, with 4 wks training, 4 wks tourney fighting.

  • mo says:

    Funny stuff. I agree with pieces of #20 and #21, I mean seriously, did anybody think people would be complaining about FREE MMA on TV a couple of years ago. I like how people say TUF needs a break, last time i checked you weren’t restrained and forced to watch. Skip the season and rent the DVD’s later if you want. As for myself, i can’t pull myself away from it still. yes there are things they could do to improve and switch it up a bit, but I’ll watch it every week regardless. Of course i also catch Iron Ring once in awhile (couldn’t be moer embarrassed to say that) so my need to watch MMA on TV may be greater then others. And i love the people complaining about the fighters, everyone is fighting and making weight, right? And was Forrest vs. Griffin really a technical bout? You have guys with less experience, that is why they are on this show.

  • Barry says:

    The first few episodes of this season had some great fights, it seems to have tapered off a bit to me. Bottom line here is, if there’s some MMA action on TV I’m gonna be watching it. Beats the hell out of American Idol and Survivor.

  • Glock says:

    I’ve heard a lot of people saying TUF is played and needs somethin new…. I dunno, I’m happy with it and think this may be my favorite season yet. Better fights and more of them. What more do we (fans) need?? Oh yeah, Kimbo that’s what we need…. we need Kimbo on the show…… Click, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, plunk……. 😉

  • rob enderle says:

    I dont want to know the ‘drama’ of the house and seeing the personalities… ESPECIALLY when its nobodies. Just because you have a few familiar UFC faces around, this is still minor, minor league MMA. A few steps below IFL.

    I want to see again that Alvarez/Hansen fight, I want to see action.
    My wife wants to see the drama and reality of scripted storylines. That’s ok she watches Desperate Housewives, Sex in the CIty and Oprah, but what excuse do Dana White nuthuggers have?

    Just leave your balls at the door next time ladies.
    American Idol is coming right up.

    I find this more insulting that Kimbo.

  • weaksauce says:

    MAN I am so disappointed with this season so far. The quality of fighting is HORRIBLE. Last episode – that supposedly good wrestler was just that – a wrestler. He knew nothing else of MMA. All he could do was take downs and throwing – but he had no clue how to finish – which is why he got his ass kicked by a newbie. The second fight was downright a waste of time – 2 guys just flailing wildly. Hands down, telgraphed haymakers – what a joke. TUF cant fight better fighters than this???

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