Will the TUF 8 contestants go on to become future superstars like season 1 or will we continue to see the same steady decline in the talent pool year after year? If the drop continues, the future of The Ultimate Fighter as a viable source of talent will one day be non existent. More importantly, the show’s place in the UFC could be in jeopardy forever.
Season one of The Ultimate Fighter brought us MMA superstars Kenny Florian, Forrest Griffin, Josh Koscheck and Diego Sanchez just to name a few. Since that first season we have witnessed a sharp drop in the talent level of the Ultimate Fighter contestants.
You can count on one finger the number of superstars from Season 3, England’s Michael Bisping.
In fact, other than season 5, where we were introduced to the likes of Joe Lauzon, Nate Diaz, Gray Maynard, Matt Wiman and Manny Gamburyan the TUF fighter’s star power has dropped drastically and since season 2 the show has failed to produce one season that would resemble an all star ensemble.
TUF 6? It brought us Mac Danzig, a fighter who was so far ahead of the competition he dropped down a weight class and dominated everyone with ease. His finale opponent was Tommy Speer who is rumored to have quit MMA fighting completely. Some other good fighters participated, but most haven’t lived up to their potential.
It’s a bit premature to gauge the TUF 7 cast, but it was won by a guy with 0 professional MMA fights. Taking nothing away from Amir Sadollah, (who should go onto big things) but to beat out 31 guys and win 5 fights with 0 pro fights under your belt would have been unheard of on season 1.
The TUF 8 cast can buck this trend and they will have their first opportunity Saturday night at the Palms in Las Vegas. They can shut up all the naysayers who claim the only hype that the TUF contestants live up to are a few gross pranks and a solid food fight at year end.
Questions will be answered. Can Ryan Bader break free from the stereotype that he is ‘just a wrestler’ and can Vinny Magalhaes prove that he is more than just a great Jiu Jitsu grappler and become a star?
Time will tell whether this group of contestants collectively will one day achieve greatness or will instead continue down the path that has been set before them, and settle for mediocrity.
Here’s hoping Saturday night they can reverse the trend and have a breakthrough season. The hopes of many young fighters are riding on their success. And although they have more important things to worry about, the future of TUF is riding on them too.