The word from Dave Meltzer (via MMA Payout) is that the UFC plans to do more reality TV in the future, and while Meltzer is sketchy on details, he claims that Matt Hughes will be involved “in a big way.”
Maybe this was something the UFC talked about before Hughes’ recent loss to Alves. Maybe it’s an idea that has since been scrapped. But adding more reality TV would already be tenuous prospect, and the chances for failure only become greater if it’s a reality show that revolves around Hughes.
I say this for two reasons: 1) Hughes is less of a draw now than at any time in the past five years, plus he’s coming off two losses and is no longer relevant to the UFC’s welterweight title picture, and 2) Reality TV is not a good medium for Matt Hughes.
Hughes used to be the UFC’s humble all-American farmboy. After his appearances on “The Ultimate Fighter”, however, he came off more like the cocky jerk who gets taught a lesson in the end of a teen sports movie. That is, when he’s not handing out Bibles and asking people to identify which character represents him (always a good use of practice time).
During his last appearance on the show, when he spent much of the season getting mad at Matt Serra and unsuccessfully trying to motivate his fighters with physical punishment, he largely dispelled that humble farmboy persona, and likely lost a lot of his fan base in the process. A new reality show might attempt to hype his grudge match with Serra, but that would only tell us that the UFC doesn’t think the fight is a big enough sell on its own.
Hughes is at his best when his personality can be more carefully crafted by editing. Back when all we saw of him was training montages, body slams, and brief interview clips, he seemed like a great guy. When the camera watched impassively as he tried to bust Georges St. Pierre‘s chops and ply junior high school psychology on Serra, he seemed much less so.
I can see why the UFC thinks more reality programming is the way to go. It’s cheap, it’s naturally conducive to sports, and the format of their current reality show has obviously gone stale. But why Matt Hughes? Why not some exciting up-and-comer? Why not someone who can be both genuine and likable at the same time, like Forrest Griffin?
Reality programming has proved its usefulness in the fight business. When done well — such as with HBO’s 24/7 series — it can even help sell a fight. But if the UFC is looking to do more reality TV, I can only hope they look toward their future and not their past.