UFC on Fuel 10 results: Was this the most pointless season of TUF ever?

I have long been an unenthusiastic supporter of the Ultimate Fighter as a series and a concept, but this most recent season and finale has left me wondering about what the possible upside could be.

I want to start this by saying, the Ultimate Fighter is not actually a bad product. It has been so at times, but empirically it's a fine product that is geared towards dumping a bunch of mediocre talent into the top levels and seeing if one of them can outlive his expectations. The fact that it is not billed that way is fine, to me. Selling it with "could one of these fighters be better than okay?" isn't a strong promotional position.

But the Ultimate Fighter Brazil 2 feels a bit like the mask has been pulled back too far. Often the best talent to come out of a season of the Ultimate fighter is one of the two finalists, but runners up have found a way to carve out surprising divisional niches. It's one of the things that keeps me engaged in the product year after year, seeing the Cody McKenzies, the Steven Silers, and (at least pre-Fox) the Matt Mitriones do better and fight longer than anyone expected of them. To me, that is what makes the show worth while, giving 10 or 14 fighters a promotional push, and seeing which of them can make the best of the opportunity given. And that's why I really don't understand the most recent season of TUF Brazil.

I would say this was the end of a slow trend starting with the Ultimate Fighter 16, which only saw a handful of fighters make their UFC debut off the show. TUF Smashes yeilded similar diminished returns, but the Ultimate Fighter 17 was a refresher, bringing every competitor into the UFC for at least one opportunity. It's a move that I still think will pay dividends down the road with a rejuvinated middleweight division (suddenly ballooned up to 60 fighters). Now, with the end of TUF Brazil 2, I'm wondering if it was more of a welcome speed bump in the road to full-on meaninglessness, rather than a true change of pace.

TUF 18 is coming along quickly and while the promise of mixing men and women could yeild a high number of fighters for two divisions, it's just as likely to produce four finalists, and little else. If that's the end result of TUF as a product it will have outlived all of it's function for the UFC. I can't see what they got out of TUF Brazil 2 right now, Brazilian fans who spent the last several months watching the show saw almost none of the fighters it familiarized them with fight, and while two more will get spots down the road, the familiarity they gained with the show will largely have evaporated. And for international audiences this Ultimate Fighter produced nothing, no names, no memorable fights, just a tiny handful of "new guys" in a division that is already overflowing.

A TV show that no one cares about, but produces a number of reasonable fighters is a fine thing. Not great, but fine. A TV show that no one cares about that produces almost nothing is truly a waste. I have kept myself from the ranks of TUF criticism for quite some time, but this is the end. TUF Brazil 2 was a completely wasted product, and if the UFC continues to make anything like it they will be throwing good money after bad.

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