Yes, TUF Live is a brand new thing in it's first season on a new network. Well so far the ratings haven't seen any substantial increase from opening night. If anything it's stagnated. This thing has gone fifteen seasons and has provided us with some of the best fighters in the world like Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping, Nate Diaz, and it was the catalyst for Matt Serra's shocking win over GSP. And just like any other television show, no matter how much you fiddle with it, no matter how many tweaks to the program, and different casts and characters you get, they run their course with the viewing public.
Let it go.
Of course as long as the ratings hover around the million mark there's no reason to cancel it, but is anyone here really bothered if the show goes? It used to be a show dedicated to finding the best fighters/prospects outside of the UFC, putting them in groups, physical challenges yada yada yada and giving the winner a $100,000 contract. You know the story about Bonnar vs. Griffin and all of that jazz so I won't delve into it. In 2005 only the hardest of hardcore MMA fans could've known about Chris Leben, Josh Koscheck, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, and so on pre-TUF. Now? It's 2012, technology --as it normally does-- has rapidly advanced. The coverage of MMA is light years beyond what it used to be. There are scouting reports, Bloody Elbow, MMA Junkie, Tapology, other MMA organizations on cable and digital premium television, raw footage on Youtube, and as a result "fighter searching" becomes a hell of a lot more accessible for every fan of the sport, not just Zuffa's team. They aren't unearthing new talents, they're finding retreads. James Krause, Micah Miller, Scott Junk, Wes Sims, Mike Wessel, Rob Yundt (didn't make the show), Bryan Caraway, and countless others all have at least 1 fight under either the UFC or WEC and ended up trying out for TUF. That's not finding "The Ultimate Fighter", those guys are just trying to re-enter a Zuffa org. with a better contract than they previously had.
The up-and-comers didn't go away, they found better alternatives. Because as long as you don't win TUF and aren't even deemed worthy to get signed after elimination, Bellator, Titan FC, Strikeforce, previously the WEC, and anything else HDNet airs are decent landing spots. Ben Henderson did not make the cut for TUF 9 tryouts and went to the WEC. His purse for beating Anthony Njokuani on the preliminary card of WEC 38 back in 2008 was $5,000. Meanwhile, Louis Gaudinot, who was on the main card of the TUF 14 Finale last December, made just $8,000. Not much of a difference is it? Henderson eventually got main card time thus television viewership (not to mention the numerous bonuses he's managed), while Gaudinot is relegated to FUEL TV and Facebook. Obviously it paid off for Henderson as he's now the #1 lightweight in the world.
As a result, you have seasons like TUF 8, in which Efrain Escudero and George Roop are the only lightweights left from that turgid cast, and they're on borrowed time with losing records in the UFC. Ditto for TUF 9, as Ross Pearson is the only lightweight from that season still around. Even at welterweight it's just James Wilks and DaMarques Johnson, and it's hard to describe them as anything other than mediocre.
The Ultimate Fighter was brought up as a last-ditch effort to save a dying brand. It worked successfully and brought millions of fans to the UFC and MMA in general. It's now so bad that the UFC is hurting themselves by keeping this thing alive. There's no need to try it with women fighters, or with flyweights, or with mixed-race hermaphrodites, the show just doesn't click anymore. There's nothing discernibly different from watching Court McGee vs. Kris McCray and the Friday night Bellator tournament. Honestly? The latter is arguably more relevant and higher quality MMA 9 times out of 10. And it's also free, just like TUF, one of the many justifications for keeping it.
You had a good run, TUF. But it's time to move on. Everything has a shelf life and this show is not an exception to the rule.