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Mark Cuban Comments on "The Ultimate Fighter"

Ultimately, Cuban is going to be proven correct on this issue. The Mickey's Replayification of the sport of MMA is a problem and at this juncture, much of the problem is a consequence of the UFC's actions. A rising tide lifts all boats, so as long as the marquee MMA brand is sponsored by Toyo Tires and malt liquor, the sport's going to have image issues. Add to that fact that beyond the marketing, this season of T.U.F. is filled with promising but untested talent and you've got a recipe for trouble. Notable quote:

Ratings for this season remain strong, with Spike averaging 1.4 million viewers for a first-run episode before airing numerous replays. But whether UFC can continue to develop top-flight talent through "Ultimate Fighter" is in question.

This season's show has morphed into MMA's version of "The Real World." There is a greater emphasis placed on conflicts and personal issues than the fight that ends each show. Some participants have even bemoaned how little MMA training is actually shown during an hour-long telecast.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who recently started his own MMA promotion (HD-Net Fights), has said veteran fighters are embarrassed by the product.

"One of the problems the sport has is that current reality shows are cast to make great TV," Cuban told last month. "Watching a bunch of guys get drunk and hang out isn't the way to represent the sport in a professional manner.

"One of the recurring themes I hear from the top names I talk to is that they hate fans think these 'knuckleheads' -- to use the term I hear over and over -- represent the typical MMA athlete. They don't."

This season's "Ultimate Fighter" features the least experienced roster to date. That stems largely from television executives pushing for participants designed to capture the young male demographic that Spike covets -- even if that means using fighters with no long-term prospects.