In this segment, our writer Daniel “Gumby” Vreeland takes an unconventional stance on a subject; both sides. Over the course of the article, “Gumby” breaks down the positives and the negatives of a current event in MMA in a unique way that only he can. Today’s debate: is having a comeback season of The Ultimate Fighter a good idea?
The rumor thrown out there by many news outlets has been, sort of, confirmed by the UFC. They are indeed considering making the newest season of The Ultimate Fighter a comeback season for welterweights. Officials released that they are looking for and contacting 170 pounders who were previously on the roster or the show itself. There’s certainly a vast number of dropped welterweights out there that would be chomping at the bit to get back to the big show. This would make season 25 of the famed reality show a huge success if it followed in the footsteps of the historic season 4, which saw two divisions worth of comebacks and eventually a Matt Serra championship. For its time, the original comeback season was watched very heavily. Plus, it was one of only two seasons, along with season 14, that had at least 10 fighters on it that went on to have at least 5 fights in the big show. This fact shows that they’re bringing back fighters with staying power and relevance. Plus, with The Ultimate Fighter struggling the way it is now, going back to what worked in the past may be the only way to save a dying franchise.
I respect those facts, I really do, but they are flawed in a number of ways. Firstly, the argument that it was watched well back then is pretty irrelevant. The numbers have been on a slow decline and people care less about the show than ever before. So, the fact that it was watched more doesn’t make any sense. Every since episode has less and less now. On top of that, all shows back then had more people getting to the UFC and higher quality product. It makes perfect sense that season 4 would have more people stay around for 5+ fights because back then, the show was legitimately trying to bring top talent to the company. Now, anyone with really high potential, with very few exceptions, is already snatched up by the company. The general public doesn’t care about the people on the show.
But there is the difference, many fans will already have an attachment to some of the people on the show. Many fans have fighters they are sad to see get let go by the company and would love to see them get a second chance. Off the top of my head, I’d love to see Che Mills, Matt Secor, Eddie Ellis and Gerald Harris back in the UFC. There are loads more too who showed high potential, but just ran into some tough fights. Take Harris for instance. The guy knocked out Mario Miranda, John Salter and WSOF double champion, David Branch. Then after a decision loss to Maiquel Falcao, they let him go. Who wouldn’t want to see a knockout artist who is 3-1 get his second shot in the UFC.
Okay, there are definitely guys who deserve a second shot. Harris most likely should have never been let go in the first place. However, I don’t buy that this will bring more people to the television on a Wednesday night. The problem is getting people interested in watching this on a weekday, which is not a typical fight night. Plus, even if they did like him getting a second chance, this season differs from TUF 4 in a huge way; no title shot. They can’t possibly give a title shot to these guys knowing how far they are from the talent level of the top of the division. Just try to look Demian Maia in the face and tell him he has to wait longer to get his shot because Mike Ricci or Ramsey Nijem is jumping the line. It’s unfathomable.
That is fair. I do agree that we can’t offer a title shot to these guys, but it isn’t like title shots have been driving up the ratings. Look at the current flyweight season; they are getting a title shot, but their ratings are lower than ever. Clearly, fans are into the title shot idea. It’s definitely the fandom of these guys that would drive it up. Also, maybe the reward of a title shot is excessive now, but perhaps there could be some kind of other award. Maybe a number one contender shot? Maybe a spot on a big name pay-per-view main card? There’s got to be a modern-day equivalent.
I’ll agree with you that giving them a slightly different prize is reasonable, but I’m not quite sure a spot on a future pay-per-view is going to get people to tune in either. I mean, they give main card spots to just about anybody. No offense to either fighter, but Charles Rosa and Alex Chambers have both had pay-per-view spots. Not a real enticement there.
I guess we’ll just have to see, if/when it happens.