Women's MMA suffered a major setback when EliteXC crashed and burned. The future of professional MMA for women is unclear; so far, no other major promotions have shown an interest in building up the sport for women like EliteXC did. One possible way to reinvigorate women's MMA and generate interest would be to create a reality show like The Ultimate Fighter for women. "TUFF: The Ultimate Female Fighter" Okay, the name is corny, but hear me out…
The first season of TUF introduced MMA to many new fans. The UFC's mainstream success and profitability is, arguably, a result of the boost it got from the first season of TUF, which climaxed with the unforgettable Griffin vs. Bonnar stand-up war. The key question, of course, is whether plugging in female fighters to the formula will yield similar results.
Right now, they aren't very many well-known female fighters. I think that having a show like this could help promote some of the most promising female fighters and expose them to a wider audience. Consider how many fighters enjoy name recognition now thanks to being on TUF. While it's true that some of the TUF alums are more deserving of the spotlight than others, it's clear that the visibility of being on TUF has helped several fighters go from being nobody to being a contender almost overnight.
Frankly, I don't think the format of the show would need to change in any meaningful way. After all, we're talking about fighters and athletes, not a bunch of pom pom girls. I wouldn't be surprised if they did alter it, though. Anyone who's watched a female fighter get interviewed knows that there is a double-standard in how women's MMA is covered. If you don't believe me, listen to some of the questions that female fighters are asked in interviews (like this one with Gina Carano) and ask yourself if they'd ever ask Chuck Liddell the same questions. ("When's the last time you cried?" and "Would you ever pose for Playboy?" WTF.) So, I suspect they'd feel the need to alter the show in some way, but it's probably not warranted. This seems inevitable to me.
When thinking about what a female version of the show would look like, one of the first things that comes to mind is that atmosphere of the house would be decidedly different. I don't mean to stereotype here, but I find it hard to believe that a group of women would behave the same way the guys on the show do. Having said that, I'm not sure what the dynamic of the house might look like, but it would be interesting to find out.
What do you guys (and girls?) think?
BTW, I've heard others toss around this idea to varying degrees on other MMA blogs. So, a tip of the hat to "NDN" who posted a comment about women's TUF on this thread over at 411mania.com and "Miss Rara" who submitted a similar question over at Cage Potato today.