It’s become stale to say the Ultimate Fighter ratings suck. We all know they suck because we spend an inordinate amount of time reading about this stuff. That’s not even the issue anymore. The issue now becomes what is the UFC going to do about it?
Last week’s episode hit the lowest point ever with 624,000 viewers. I’m no television executive or anything, but I’d say going from 947,000 to 624,000 (week 4 was an anomaly as the UFC on FX 5 led into it) in just a month is bad. I’m sure they’ll figure a way to downplay it, maybe by pointing out that the show still beat a tutorial on how to properly have your ass crack on the Schmuck Network among 18-35 year olds. But the truth is very simple: the show sucks.
Every season Dana White promises “the craziest season ever.” Yet every season is just more of the same decayed format. This is not to suggest they should do away with the show, not by any means. It’s still a good way to introduce new fighters into the UFC. It just needs a facelift, not a band aid. The usual strategy of a coach’s beef, house shenanigans, “intriguing” personalities – which really just means focusing way too much camera time on the weird guy with the stupid hair, and then a fight at the end is played out.
They should ditch the “fight your way into the house” thing immediately. All that ensures is that the only good episode will be the first one. Obvious reason: lots of fucking fights. Send all those guys to the house, and put two fights on each episode. Make it a show about, duh, fighting. Personally, I think they’d do a hell of a lot better if they actually focus less on the fighters and more on the fighting. This may be harsh, but no one really cares that so and so left behind a family for six weeks and yada yada yada. No one cared about Anderson Silva until he started smashing opponents in devastating fashion. That’s just the reality of it.
By trying to introduce the fighters by their personal stories the UFC and FOX are missing the point. Very few people are interesting enough to captivate an audience. We watch these guys not because they quit their job for this opportunity and don’t have a nickel to their names, but because they get into a locked cage with another man skilled in the arts of pain and beat the shit out of each other. And call me crazy, but too much testosterone, bad tattoos, and worse hair isn’t really all that interesting, not after 16 seasons.