“I have a question for both of you,” asks Dana White to BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar just moments before the three begin deliberating semifinal matchups on last night’s episode of TUF 19, “Is this the season of guys who just don’t want it?”
“F*cking exactly,” Penn quickly chimes in, while Edgar opts to remain silent. I swear, that Edgar fellow is too nice for his own good and it’s going to get him hurt one day.
But perhaps more interesting than White’s assertion of this season’s cast — who combined have finished just one fight inside the distance since entering the house — is how it applies to the excruciatingly dull season that TUF 19 has become, and truly, The Ultimate Fighter program as a whole.
I know, I know, we here at CagePotato hate everything MMA, UFC, and especially, T-U-F. We’ve had it out for The Ultimate Fighter from the get-go — the “get-go” being somewhere around season 15. We’re just h8ers who can’t appreci8 TUF because we’re all overw8 noobs who can’t get d8s, don’t trane UFC, etc. And that’s fine, but even the biggest TUF apologist would find it hard to declare that this season has been memorable in any way whatsoever (although I’m sure a few of you will try in the comments section). The fights have sucked, Penn and Edgar have been non-factors at best, and the fights have sucked. Did I mention the fights have sucked? Because they have.
What could Dana White have expected, honestly? When it was first announced that Penn, a recently retired legend who has dropped 4 of his past 6 fights, and Edgar, a former lightweight champion who has beaten Penn twice, would serve as coaches this season and then meet in a completely unnecessary trilogy bout, at featherweight, there was almost a universal reaction of “Wait, WTF?!” Not only has Penn never fought at featherweight before, but the dominant fashion in which Edgar last defeated him didn’t exactly have fans screaming for another go. And what would a win even mean for Penn? A temporary stay of execution from retirement? A chance to get leg-kicked into oblivion by Jose Aldo?
Coming off the ratings kersploosh that was TUF 18 and with at least two international seasons of the show running at all times (and receiving their own, garbage-ass finale cards, no less), it is safe to say that fans are all tapped out of the trite and plain boring entity that is TUF. Even worse, the booking of Penn and Edgar as coaches for TUF 19 seems to indicate that the UFC might be feeling the same effects as well.
But TUF is all about the fighters, right? Right, except that this season’s contestants (Dhiego Lima excluded) seem as if they could not give less of a fuck about getting their skulls bashed in for a chance to earn 8k/8k a fight for the next five years (and I almost forgot, that sweet glass plaque!). Nor do they seem swayed by White dangling the $25,000 “Knockout/Sub/Fight of the Season” bonuses like a carrot in front of their face in the above video.
“$50,000 is life changing!” says White, who proceeds to drop $200,000 in casino chips and drunkenly purchasing a smart car just because.
I’ve always had this theory about UFC cards, where if the first few fights end in an underwhelming decision, the rest of the card is doomed to follow in the same fashion. The fans become fatigued, the fighters realize that most fans at home have already tuned out, and it just becomes another long day at the office. I haven’t been wrong on that many occasions.
Those underwhelming undercard fights are the last 5 or so seasons of The Ultimate Fighter in this scenario, in case you didn’t get the metaphor.
Nothing short of a miracle is going to pull TUF out of the hole it’s been in, although I do hold out hope that an all-womens season with some actual stakes on the line will at least give us a reason to watch it again. Save a brutal KO in the premiere episode and a baffling judging/referee calamity in episode 7, TUF 19 has been decidedly absent of any notable moments. The same can be said about TUF 18, 16, the “Live” season (LOL!), and countless others.
I don’t even need to beat the dead horse that is the UFC’s obvious oversaturation issues anymore. The proof is in the
semen-covered sushi pudding. And to answer Dana’s question, no, we don’t want it.