Well, what can we say? Like a Tito Ortiz guillotine, something we thought was done and played out rises from the ashes of Phoenix and peaks our interest once more. Yes, TUF has all the drama, nakedness, championship belts and porn stars to give Tito a run for his money, but suddenly we are jolted awake with the thought that there may be something left in the bag of tricks to keep it going.
Last night we saw the second coming. Of Dana using the F-bomb in a way that seemed forced. Of guys who look like they can actually fight. Of farm animals dressed in clothing (or is that just a flashback to my childhood in Kansas?). Of a mariachi band. Ok, some of those are firsts. Can you believe it? After all these seasons, we may actually be getting something we sorely needed., good fighters and even some juvenile entertainment. Strangely, I found myself already wondering how next season on FX will be able to keep up with what we are witnessing currently.
I admit, there are plenty of times I have called for the end of TUF. For more training and less house antics. For champions to not be involved, thus putting the belt on hold. For the fighters to actually be UFC caliber guys to a percentage. I'll even admit to being disappointed by the respectful co-existence of Brock and JDS. But this season seems to have it all.
Let's weigh in on a couple of components:
COACHES- Like or hate Mayhem and The Count, there is little dispute that they can be entertaining and if episode one was any indication, they could play off each other perfectly this season. Mayhem is pretty quick with his mouth and Bisping's retorts seem to be more measured. I can easily see Miller getting under Mike's skin frequently and frustrating him to the point of losing his cool. As for the actual fight, Bisping is not top tier, but he is the top of the middle tier. He has a well rounded game and beats most of the guys he should beat and usually puts up a decent fight against the top guys. Miller is a great entertainer, but also a very underrated fighter. He has gone the distance with GSP and Shields, even giving them trouble at times, something we see little of these days, last weekend withstanding. Should be a fun season followed by a very well matched fight. Great job by the UFC to give us compelling coaches without messing up the title picture.
FIGHTERS- Wow! That was awesome. Other than a couple of guys, the whole bunch was at least somewhat impressive, with several looking like they should already be in the UFC, or at least have been in the WEC. We witnessed a couple of HUGE chins and hearts, but even more talent and skill. There are so many compelling match ups that I don't see any way this season won't be entertaining. For once, when Dana said there were several guys who could be stars, I didn't disagree. The lighter weight classes are an overdue and welcome addition. Many of us had called for a WEC TUF season and I think we are seeing that we were right. As for the antics, there is just something a little crazy about the lighter guys. They are just a little more froggy and willing to jump. Sorry Kingsbury, you keep the sushi and I'll take the crazy little dudes! Add in the inevitable coaches animosity and the fighter loyalties are sure to erupt and divide the house. Maybe TUF should have been on Bravo?
For a while, I thought the UFC would "throw" this season of TUF and mail one in before the exodus. Instead, they have done the opposite and made one of the most promising seasons ever. In retrospect I think this is a smart move and has some of us back on board, talking about TUF, watching every episode and anticipating the next incarnation.
So what do you think guys? Will you be watching all the time? Fast forwarding to the fights? Not watching at all? And who is your pick this season? I know it is really to early and we haven't seen enough of these guys, but as we watched last night, I'm sure some of you started to form some opinions.