Does The Ultimate Fighter Need a Do-Over?

via www.mmatko.com

The ratings are in for The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale. It did a respectable 1.32 household rating and pulled a 1.74 in males 18 to 49 and a 1.95 in males 18 to 34 with an average audience of 1.8 million viewers. The season 12 finale earned a 1.4 household rating and averaged 2 million viewers, peaking with 2.3 million viewers.

That's not as bad as some feared after the 13th season of the show did the worst ratings of the show's run. That was a big disappointment as the UFC thought it had scored a coup by booking its biggest star -- former heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar -- to coach the show. 

Dave Meltzer commented on what went wrong with season 13:

  • No chemistry between the coaches. Dos Santos is "nice almost to a fault" and there was no heat between he and Lesnar.
  • A slow start. No personalities shined early on and the initial fights were boring.
  • Weaker promotion from Spike TV. Different start time and no live event to lead in to the season opener.
He also addressed the issue of fighter quality:

The Season 1 cast included eight fighters who went on to become legitimate stars, and five - Forrest Griffin, Koscheck, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez and Nate Quarry - who ended up challenging for championships.

But as time has gone on, the success rate of fighters coming out of the show has greatly declined. Nobody buys the premise anymore that these are the best undiscovered fighters in the country. There has been too much shortsightedness in the selection of cast members, picking people based on what they hope are personalities that will lead to ratings.

The problem is, it's extremely rare for a cast member on the show to make a ratings difference. There are exceptions, notably Slice, who had a name coming in, and Junie Browning, who was a basket case whose downward spiral played out in front of the public.

But usually, the personalities haven't made a difference. And if at least a few fighters from every season don't achieve success in the UFC, in the long run no one is benefited.

Dan Stupp talked about Dana White's plans to use the show to feature international talent:

UFC president Dana White recently discussed the possibility of pulling in more international talent and using different countries as teams.

"It'd be like the World Cup of ‘TUF,' " White said. "Dude, if we can nail that one, that's my dream."

It'd be a solid first step toward an overhaul of the show - one that's badly needed. With the show once the best vehicle for the UFC to draw in new fans, it now caters largely to the existing fan base. And they need something new if the series wants to stay relevant.

Personally I do not understand why the UFC insists on imposing the worst contracts it offers to TUF contestants. They've squandered a fortune in TV time promoting a bevy of fighters who barely ended up fighting for the promotion. If the point of the series is to introduce fans to fighters who will be featured on Pay Per View, why not get the best prospects on the show?

Right now the UFC has too many fighters rising through the ranks that have little or no fan awareness -- talented up and comers like Phil Davis, Rick Story, and Jake Ellenberger. Why is the UFC wasting its precious Spike TV time introducing lesser talents to millions of fans instead of future contenders? 

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