With the ratings for the Ultimate Fighter continuing to drop on a weekly basis, even dipping below one million viewers for the first time in the show’s history, it seems clear the long-running reality series needs an injection of excitement before the brand loses its legitimacy. The new format featuring a live fight every week was certainly a good start but is a double-edged sword too, eliminating past seasons’ ability to squeeze two results into one episode or edit down particularly plodding pairings.
While there’s no easy solution to the problem, there are plenty of ways the UFC could fan the flame in hopes of rekindling excitement surrounding the Ultimate Fighter. Here are three of them:
A Second “Comeback” Season
There are undoubtedly numerous competitors on the UFC’s roster or in free agency after having been recently released who would sign on for TUF if it meant a guaranteed title-shot with a tournament win as was the case on TUF 4. Matt Serra’s win over Georges St. Pierre remains one of the UFC’s biggest moments to this day and a second “Comeback” season would allow for another equally epic result. Plus, with the exposure MMA receives now, the cast would draw a lot of attention since more fans would be familiar with their past efforts.
Increased Fan Interaction
While voting on bonuses is nice, today’s consumers love the ability to feel important and upping the level of fan interaction is a way to placate that need. The UFC could have Dana White or Jon Anik reply to Tweets during the live broadcast, have contests allowing different groups of fans to watch the weekly bout from the UFC Training Center, or even take the extra step by letting fans vote on match-ups. Imagine the interest if people could actually select the individuals facing off in a cage, playing “UFC Matchmaker” if only to a small degree.
Open Up the House
It’s time to let the fighters stretch their legs and see how they react with more freedom at their disposal. If given the chance, would contestants end up partying out in Las Vegas until the wee hours of the night? Would they end up in fights or arrested? Would they bring parties back to the house, obviously risking the drama it would create with housemates who are taking the process more seriously? It’s impossible to know until giving them the opportunity. However, what is certain is how entertaining it would be to watch things unfold.
There are plenty of other ways to switch TUF up too. These are just the tip of the iceberg. However, unless the UFC adopts some level of change and starts thinking outside the box, the only cold thing in the area will be the show’s ratings, ironically as equally effective as the aforementioned chunk of frozen H2O when it comes to sinking flagships.