For that matter, could Good Guy Junior have saved last season?
We’rejust finishing up with a season of The Ultimate Fighter that most of us didn’t even pretend to watch, and are getting ready for a season that we’ll only watch to see how creatively Chael Sonnen can troll Jon Jones. Okay, perhaps some of us actually want to watch TUF for less cynical reasons – say because it’s free MMA or to see if the show discovers a legitimate fighter who has slipped through the cracks - just like how some professional football fans actually keep up with the UFL.
With the show in desperate need of a mix-up, Dana White has been open to the idea of casting Ronda Rousey as a coach, while still keeping the contestants themselves men. The idea picked up even more steam yesterday when White suggested that Ronda Rousey could be coaching against Miesha Tate on an upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter. Via MMAFighting:
“It could happen,” White said. “If there’s two people who would probably coach, you kick [the idea] around, this could happen, that could happen. If they did, it could be [Rousey] and Miesha. You know, we’ll see. Timing has a lot do with it.”
Having Rousey and Tate coach a season of TUF is an interesting idea on paper. The show would give WMMA exposure, Rousey and Tate would have some memorable clashes throughout the season and the season-ending coaches’ fight would actually be meaningful. It may not be a drastic change, but simply making two skilled female fighters coaches may be able to regenerate interest in the show.
But if the UFC really wants to give the show a complete overhaul, why not cast an all-female season?
My biggest gripe with The Ultimate Fighter is that the show hasn’t been producing relevant fighters, because talented prospects no longer have to go through reality television in order to get a shot in the UFC. Case in point, Hacran Dias was a 20-1-1 fighter when he tried out for TUF Brazil. Rather than being sent through the show, Dias was offered a contract on the spot, and won his UFC debut over Yuri Alcantara at UFC 147. The lesson here is that if you have a shot at immediate relevance, you aren’t fighting on The Ultimate Fighter anymore.
An all-female season could be different because WMMA is still in the early stages of its development. Much like how the first two seasons of The Ultimate Fighter made plenty of previously unknown fighters staples in the UFC for years, it’s possible that there are enough skilled females flying far enough under our radars to be willing to go through a season of TUF in order to land a contract.
For that matter, it’s also possible that established female fighters like Sara McMann would be willing to compete on the show simply because WMMA gets practically zero exposure. Just look at the first article we wrote about Ronda Rousey. When Strikeforce first inked a deal with her, she was…some sort of vegan Olympic judoka, I guess? In hindsight, it’s comical that the collective MMA community wasn’t shitting bricks over such an important signing, but we simply hadn’t heard of her until then. It’s very possible that even more potentially great fighters are going undiscovered due to the lack of coverage that WMMA has been receiving.
The catch is that while fans are more than happy to accept Ronda Rousey as a world-class athlete, they may still not be ready to accept WMMA as a legitimate competition. Female athletes in America simply do not receive the same coverage as their male counterparts, which may make the TUF formula even more stale with the inclusion of women. For example, will an altercation in the TUF house between two women be interpreted by viewers the same way as an altercation between two male contestants, or dismissed as just petty female drama? Logically, the sexes of the contestants shouldn’t make a difference, but it does, and it could wind up turning even more people away from the struggling franchise.
So that leads us directly into our question: Assuming that the editting crews do their best to portray the fighters in a positive light and as serious athletes (i.e. none of this), do you think an all-female season can save The Ultimate Fighter? Would you be more likely to watch the show if Ronda Rousey and Meisha Tate are coaches? And what are the odds that something like this happens if they’re coaching an all-male season? Keep it civil, you guys.