Fox & The UFC Give The Ultimate Fighter A Reality Makeover

The Ultimate Fighter 15 will air live fightsThe UFC and Fox held a press conference today to announce their new partnership. Several announcements were made that have excited MMA fans. The biggest may be facelift given to The Ultimate Fighter starting with season 15.

The talk about The Ultimate Fighter appears to be generating more buzz following the press conference than almost any of the other talking points. The UFC reality television competition will get a complete makeover with the biggest change coming to show fights.

It was announced at the press conference that all fights on The Ultimate Fighter will now be live. The show will be comprised of coaches’ and house footage throughout the week for the first half hour while the second half hour will feature a live fight. This move is likely influenced by Fox’s success in reality competition, specifically American Idol which features live competition.

However, the biggest component that will change in the show is how the fights are made. Currently, fights are made by the winning coach. The coach of the fighter who wins the weekly fight has authority to make the next fight. The idea is to give the teams a competitive advantage allowing coaches to make mismatches whenever possible, in favor of their team. Those days will be over beginning with TUF 15.

The new TUF will incorporate fan participation and bring the show into the 21st century. Like American Idol and other reality competitions, the viewers at home will participate in the program. Viewers at home will vote on the matchup through text messaging. It is obvious that the executives at Fox schooled the UFC on reality television and they listened loud and clear.

The show will air on F/X and for the first time in show history, air on Friday nights. Friday nights is a risky move as the WWE could tell the UFC since moving SmackDown from Thursdays to Fridays. For one, you have the element of the weekend and kids going out. Two, you miss out on new-release movie advertising dollars since the movies are released Fridays, thus eliminating the Thursday or Wednesday ads that TUF enjoyed in the past. At the end of the day, Friday isn’t that big of a deal but I think there is more downside than up.

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I have been a TUF fan from the start but I have lost a lot of interest over the last few years. To me, it comes down to the quality of the fighters and fights on the show. It isn’t like the first few seasons where you had all of this great talent sitting on the sidelines ready for an opportunity. There are just way too many opportunities for talented young MMA fighters to take as opposed to fighting your way through a reality competition. The Chris Lebens, Josh Koschecks, and Forrest Griffin‘s just aren’t out there. Name me one UFC superstar that TUF has produced in the last several years that wasn’t a coach?

One of the biggest TUF turnoffs to me over the last few years are the quality of fights. Most fights are terrible and lack technique. The guys are inexperienced, nervous, sometimes out of shape, and generally have really poor ground games. Hey, a crappy fight is a crappy fight whether it airs live or it airs on tape delay. That isn’t going to change.

The hope here is that TUF turns around and gets to be so huge that young and talented MMA fighters choose to go The Ultimate Fighter route instead of taking deals with other MMA companies. With Bellator possibly jumping to Spike TV, a young fighter is more inclined to take their chances there than move into a house with strangers and put their lives on TV. However, those same fighters may choose TUF for the immediate exposure if it becomes a hit over a deal with Bellator, etc.

Hey, I’d love to see The Ultimate Fighter turn it around but I just don’t have a lot of hope. I just think the show has hit the wall. Live fights and fan participation is fine but if the fights continue to fall flat like the past few seasons, then people will tune out. The ratings were the lowest last season than any other and that is just a fact. Good fights would have turned it around but unfortunately, there weren’t many.

I hope I am wrong because the UFC needs this show to be successful in order to create stars but I just don’t see it happening.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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