The Ultimate Fighter Live is humming along on FX, and while it’s doing okay at around a million viewers per episode, that’s a new dip from the 1.3 million it was getting on Spike. Some have suggested that after 15 seasons, TUF has become an obsolete concept … at least in North America. Unsurprisingly, Dana White thinks otherwise:
“It’s not that I’m not happy. I said it’s a home run for them … since they’re dominating Friday nights with 18- to 34-year-old males. It’s not the best position for me, though. I have – let me tell you – the best [expletive] relationship with FUEL, FX and big FOX. I couldn’t be happier. I wish I was here for 17 years instead of seven. Everything that’s ever come up – every problem – they’re just as passionate and crazy about my business as I am. They give a crap. They care. This is a team effort. We’re doing what we’re doing this season, and then we’re going to switch some things up. We’re going to make this thing work and make it great – if it’s Friday night or it’s whatever. Believe me.”
“As far as I’m concerned, FX is better than [expletive] HBO. You’re paying extra money to have HBO when the programming on FX smokes HBO right now. HBO’s known for all its great shows. I’ve heard ‘Game of Thrones’ is awesome, but if you look at the overall network and what FX is doing and HBO is doing, FX blows them away. And that’s on regular cable that you can watch everyday.”
“We’re going to fix it. I read all the [expletive] from people who have no [expletive] clue what they’re talking about. We’re with guys who are the best in the business. We will get this thing dialled in and make it great. I’ve been hearing ‘TUF’ ran its course since season four. And here we are on season 15.”
EVERYONE WHO SAYS TUF IS BROKEN IS A [EXPLETIVE] MORON! BUT WE’RE GOING TO FIX IT ANYWAYS! Well, that’s half of a positive sign, I guess. Now here are some humble suggestions from moi, aka one of those [expletive] [expletives] who has no clue what they’re talking about.
Any night but Friday night: It’s bad enough that the UFC cuts into a lot of young mens’ prime poontang hunting hours with it’s regular Saturday night events. Now they expect us to give up Friday night every week? It’s called the Friday Night Deathslot for a reason, and it’s actually kinda impressive that TUF has weathered being dumped there as well as it has.
A prize that matters: Winning TUF means a UFC contract. But who cares when half the fighters from a season end up in the promotion anyways? The much ballyhooed six figure contract winners get isn’t exactly impressive any more either. Make the prize matter – winner gets half a million bucks.
Fighters that matter = fights that matter: I have no idea who Mike Chiesa or Jeremy Larsen are, so I have very little interest in watching them fight. Sorry, the days of MMA fans needing to catch every single fight out there is over. You’ll have to do better if you want to draw in more people. So why not this: invite fighters who are already in the UFC. Finding 16 guys on the roster who are interested in a fast track to notoriety and a chance at winning half a million bucks for two months of work shouldn’t be that difficult.
Outside contact: It’s oh so shocking that after 15 seasons, it’s getting a bit boring watching dudes fart around a frat house and training at the gym. Why not schedule more interesting outings so we can see these guys in the wild? And why cut them off from the outside world? The first thing the producers do when profiling a fighter is delve into their personal lives and family relationships. Wouldn’t it be much cooler if we saw some of that through direct interaction? Give fighters access to a TUF equivilant of the Jersey Shore Duckphone. Invite members of the family out to witness the semi-finals. Guaranteed interpersonal drama!
At this point, it doesn’t really matter if TUF is getting a bit stale. The format has proven itself fresh enough to capture the imagination of Brazilian TV viewers. Even if the American version of TUF continues to fade in importance, it’s already accomplished it’s goals here. If it ends up being nothing more than the flagship for a series of international versions that help bring the sport up in other countries, that’s more than enough. TUF has already succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest hopes and dreams.