(Thanks to tufentertainment.net for the fitting logo.)
By Nathan Smith
With the recent announcement that Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin have been named as the coaches for the next installment of The Ultimate Fighter series, the MMA universe immediately launched into a full-blow orgasmic ticker-tape parade complete with tons of flying confetti and a marching band belting out death metal tunes. Once I heard the news, it was as if my life instantaneously turned into a beer commercial and the entire Potato Nation was invited. There was a rad pool-party, barbeque, a plethora of hotties, endless alcohol, and an overall quest for fun.
Well . . . . . actually, none of that happened. In fact, when word spread that Nelson and Carwin would helm the next season of TUF, it was officially filed under “WTF?” Judging from the comment section, most of the CP brethren didn’t care for the choices either. TUF is coming off a season that saw the ratings dip lower than they ever had, which could partially be blamed on the move to FX and the dreaded Friday night time slot. Regardless of the variables for the ratings drop, something drastic needs to be done, but is anybody really convinced that Carwin and Nelson are the answer to TUF’s slow and painful demise? Let’s start from the beginning and take a look back to see if this runaway train can be coaxed back onto the main rail.
The Season That Started it All
The inaugural season of TUF featured future Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture as the competing coaches who would go mano y mano at the PPV after the season finale. For fans of the UFC, that was good enough for most to initially tune in for the Fertitta-funded experiment. It still remains the best crop of young talent and personalities to ever grace the show; future stars like Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, Josh Koscheck, Chris Leben, Diego Sanchez, Mike Swick, Kenny Florian, and Nate Quarry were all complete unknowns vying for stardom in a fledgling sport. You mix in the whole “fatherless bastard” angle and the show was off and running even before the awe-inspiring climax between (pre TRT) FoGrif and The American Psycho. Even before that, we were treated to the greatest speech of all time that has since been condensed into a few words. “Do you wanna be a fighter?” Though there were other memorable moments from the seasons that followed, Zuffa should have quit while they were ahead because it would never be this good again. The unrefined personification of immature talent, undeniable aspirations and gonzo-sized balls oozed from the boob tube during every episode.