When TUF 1 premiered years ago I remember saying to my friends how lucky these guys were to train and learn from guys who have done it all; guys who have fought the best of the best. To train with champs who have won and defended their titles. To learn from guys who have lost the belt and beat the odds to come back. Chuck and Randy are guys that make fighters want to be fighters.
In the last few seasons I get the feeling the new participants are getting screwed out of that experience. Going on the show, meeting the people they meet, training with some of the best trainers and finally getting doors opened that may never have been opened is very cool. However, the coaching has lost some of its wow factor.
Let’s look at this season, setting feelings about the character of GSP and Koscheck aside. In my humble opinion, a fighter picked on Kos' team would have to feel a little bit robbed. Georges is the champ. He has a championship camp behind him. He has fought the best in his division. He’s fought legends in the sport in Hughes and Penn. He’s defended his title, he’s lost it and won it back.
Kos on the other hand, has never been a champion. He certainly hasn’t’ fought any legends. The most notable fights on his resume, Thaigo, Alves, Fickett and GSP were losses. The exceptions are his wins against Trigg, Lytle and Sanchez, and even Sanchez was an uninspired decision. Let's give the devil his due, he’s obviously a good fighter, his record speaks to that , but as a star coach on TUF,
(and argueably the top contender) -[ thats not fair, he IS the top contender, I retract]has he really earned that due?
Looking at his team’s performance, only 2 guys made it through. His best guy got taken out in seconds by a guy who trains by himself in Alaska. Psycho should have walked through Dane but settled for decision after repeatedly grabbing the fence. With that record, does a relatively unproven fighter (for a top contender) have a place coaching the show?
Another glaring difference between the premier and now, is the coach behaviour. The attitude Chuck and Randy showed towards their fighters, and members of the other team was admirable. Even Tito and Shamrock’s hatred for one another (both Champs with long careers in the sport) didn’t spill over to the fighters. Given their histories, how does a gatekeeper like Bisping justify treating up and coming fighters so poorly. Even Rampage, who has an impressive pedigree, showed little regard for his team and acted like a child when his team lost vs. Evans. Why would Kos feel he has the right to constantly berate and chastise young fighters who are trying to make it? Regardless if you feel a fighter should be man enough to take it if he's going to be a fighter. Kos has certainly proven he can't.
TUF IS a show however, and shows need ratings, so controversy will be sought after. Judging by the way the boards light up after each episode, ‘villains’ like Kos provide that controversy and keep us watching. At some point though, ZUFFA needs to identify the spirit of the show. Are we really watching the future of the sport getting great coaching and a real shot, or are we watching a semi-scripted reality show with ‘characters’ at the helm? Characters like Juni, Kos, Bisping make great water cooler fodder, but are they really advancing the sport?