The Ultimate Fighter Is Back – Ultimately Fails to Make Anyone Care
Posted by Jack McGee on 04.18.2014
The latest season of the Ultimate Fighter debuted this week featuring Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn to little fanfare! 411’s Jack McGee looks at the status of the show, and why people just don’t care anymore…
The third season in Brazil is almost complete. The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia is complete. In total the UFC has completed right around 23 seasons of the Ultimate Fighter. It is an institution and an important part of the UFC's history. If you look back, it is vital to the success of the company. Maybe not a wild a story as Dana White would have you believe, but getting on Spike TV was a huge accomplishment, even if they had to pay for the time. The first season of the Ultimate Fighter added fuel to the fire for the Liddell vs. Couture fight, a feud that doesn't get enough credit for helping launch the UFC into the popularity that it enjoyed. While certainly lacking in technical merit, Griffin vs. Bonnar was a spectacle that brought fans into the sport. Season one also produced middleweight winner Diego Sanchez as well as Mike Swick, Josh Koscheck, Kenny Florian; valuable fighters and some even title contenders for the company. Season two followed up on this with winners Joe Stevenson and Rashad Evens, a challenger and a former champion. Josh Burkman, Jorge Gurgel, Marcus Davis, Melvin Guillard and Keith Jardine also came from this season. Just looking back at the people involved in the first two seasons of the show makes you realize how important it was. But this was back in 2005, it was new, it was fresh and people cared…
Now its 2014, and to say that people do not care about the Ultimate Fighter would be an understatement. I wish I could tell you the last time I watched a season of the Ultimate Fighter all the way through, but I just don't have the excitement for the product that I once had. I used to love watching the show, but it feels stale. The reason the early editions worked was because there were a ton of good fighters out there. Now, places like Bellator and WSOF are trying to sign up anyone with talent, guys that previously would have applied for the Ultimate Fighter. But now they are regular fighters (and good for them if they are making a living, I am more than happy for them) and for the most part, if they want into the UFC, this is their way to get in, not the Ultimate Fighter.
But you say, "Jack, they have BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar as coaches!" I respectfully don't give a shit about either. Lets look at Frankie Edgar, the former lightweight champion of the world. Since February of 2012 he is 1-3 in the UFC, which includes losing the title to Henderson, losing the rematch to Henderson and losing to Jose Aldo in a featherweight title bout he had no right receiving. He also has no charisma, and I have no reason to care about him.
But then there is BJ Penn! A fighter revered as one of the very best ever… at wasting his own potential. For all of Penn's gifts in the world of martial arts, he is almost as famous for being lazy, for not adapting, and for staying in his little comfort zone in Hawaii where everyone told him he's the best and never challenged him. Since February of 2011 (his last three fights) Penn is 0-2-1. Outside of a KO of an on his way out Matt Hughes, Penn is 1-4-1 since April of 2010, including two losses to Edgar.
These men are the hook for you to watch this season. Not only are these men the hook for you to watch, the will have a third fight to "settle the score," which was already settled when Edgar beat Penn twice. And then your asking me to believe that BJ Penn will make 145? With his history of underachieving? And if he does make 145, will he even be in condition to fight Edgar? Edgar is a little younger, has less mileage on him and has actually made 145. There is nothing here to make me want to watch this fight.
Mac Danzig, James Wilks, Kendall Grove, Travis Lutter, Robert Whittaker, Efrain Escudero, Jonathan Brookins, Amir Sadollah; this is a list of past winners of the show that are either no longer with the UFC or are with the company and not doing anything worth of note. Some others are around, but doing little to nothing as far as the company goes. Forrest is gone, Matt Serra had a great moment, but he is done now. Bisping is a gatekeeper, Bader is a middle of the road guy, Nelson is a middle of the road guy, and Nate Diaz is insane like his brother.
The bottom line is this; the Ultimate Fighter is old and busted. It is stale, it is antiquated, and there is no real reason to watch. They got a little bit of excitement due to the women, and the women were the only reason anyone cared about that season, just check out the ratings. I may watch the all women season because I am a fan of WMMA and want it to continue to succeed, but outside of that, the UFC is giving me no reason to care about the Ultimate Fighter.
Make no mistake, when the history of the UFC is finally composed, the early days of the Ultimate Fighter will be an important part of their history. I appreciate the fact that they are producing international versions to grow the sport and to try and create a star for those countries. It makes sense. But as for The Ultimate Fighter: Penn vs. Edgar?
Jack McGee is an aspiring investigative journalist with interests covering TV, Movies, Wrestling, MMA and Sports. When not hunting the Incredible Hulk, Jack works on his surfing, his Johnny Utah like throwing motion and origami.