Reality shows run their course after a while and then slowly die before inevitable cancellation. That's exactly how I feel about The Ultimate Fighter. You could say the creation of TUF saved the UFC because without the show we probably would've never seen Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar happen. Now the organization and MMA in general is big enough (and still growing) that we have to move on.
I enjoyed the finale last night because not only was it entertaining, but Spike TV on several occasions didn't go to a commercial when they could be giving us cornermen talk. Maybe it's small steps towards fewer ads. However, nothing felt "special" about this card. Court McGee winning was a phenomenal story and I wish him the best of luck the rest of his career. Matt Hamill and Keith Jardine put on a great fight and both were very gutsy. Chris Leben solidified himself as a middleweight gatekeeper when just this past January he was a loss in the prelims away from possibly being cut. And yet, it felt like it was "just another show".
There were empty seats scattered throughout the small Palm's showroom, and it sums up how most people felt about this card before it even began. The classic wars from past finales like Griffin/Bonnar, Stevenson/Cummo, Evans/Imes, and even Huerta/Guida to use a non-TUF championship example have become increasingly rare.
The UFC has evolved so much from that famous night back in April 2005. We only had 5 events in all of 2004, all on PPV. The 5th show of 2010 was UFC LIVE: Vera vs. Jones on March 21st. The UFC has the roster depth and the money to make these events happen. Nearly 50 TUF alums are in the UFC, and 7 (Sanchez, Griffin, Evans, Quarry, Stevenson, Koscheck, Florian) have been given at least a title shot. If you want to include season 4 then you can count Matt Serra and Patrick Cote.
In my opinion, The Ultimate Fighter should have its plug pulled after this upcoming season. Today we have Bellator, MFC, Strikeforce, etc. all with North American television contracts to feature these exciting young prospects and rising stars; now we have other outlets for the likes of Tyron Woodley, who did not make TUF during tryouts but is a hot prospect for Strikeforce. We've come to a point in time where the UFC doesn't need TUF to build their roster. Season 1 we had "x number of no-name fighters from regional shows looking to make it to the top organization in the fledgling world of MMA". Now we have "x number of no-name fighters mixed in with former UFC rejects looking to make it to the top organization in the thriving and ever-rising world of MMA". The show has lost its original purpose and is a shell of its former self.
The show had a great run and is responsible for the UFC staying in existence. Alas, it's time to part ways.