The general consensus floating around the interwebs is that the UFC should hold off on having Kimbo fight on TUF for as long as possible. The benefit, as most see it, would be viewers tuning in weekly with anticipation as to whether or not their favorite porn bodyguard turned YouTube sensation turned cage fighter would step inside the Octagon. I say eff that shite. Kimbo should fight on the first episode. And I’ll even be kind enough to tell you why.
The first episode of TUF will appear on your magic box right after UFC Fight Night 19, featuring Gray Maynard vs. Roger Huerta and a bunch of other yet-to-be-announced fights. What better way to promote this huge night of MMA than to promise to end it all with Kimbo’s Octagon debut? Say what you will about the guy, but he attracts attention if nothing else.
Despite that fact, Kimbo is not going to attract a significant amount of viewers to the reality show each week based on his presence alone. Those casual fans who know little about the sport that tuned in to CBS to watch him fight weren’t watching to see the guy talk to the camera about how so-and-so keeps eating his Fritos; they were tuning in to watch him punch people in the face.
When Kimbo does eventually have his first TUF fight, it is going to need to be advertised beforehand. What better night to do it than the first episode? Such a tactic will no doubt increase the ratings for the Fight Night show, which is definitely a good thing. On top of that, if Kimbo actually wins it will increase the total viewership for the rest of the season because people will want to see if he can make it past the next round.
Let’s face it: this guy has a very small chance of winning this thing, considering there are tough fighters like Roy Nelson and Wes Sims, UFC veterans like Scott Junk and Mike Wessel, and even NFL veteran Marcus Jones all in the cast. The best way to deal with him is to get as much out of his name as possible initially, just in case he doesn’t go all that far in the tournament. If he does, good for him and good for the company. But if he doesn’t (which is more likely) the best bet is to have him fight on the first episode.