| | Opinion: The TUF tournament is just a tryout for the Finale
After reading the Vinny got cut recently, I started thinking about how TUF works. Throughout the years many guys who appeared on TUF had made good careers for themselves in the UFC or even outside the UFC.
What seems to become more and more clear every year, is that it's not so much what you do ON the show, as what you do AFTER the show. For example, Mike Swick basically did nothing on the show, but won a bunch of fights right after and is still doing pretty well today.
More recently, Vinny beat Krzysztof on the show, but since then Vinny has been cut and you could argue (especially with Bader's injury) that Krzysztof is probably ranked highest of all of that season's fighters.
Winning the show helps you for about 5 seconds and then you have to win your fights just like everybody else, which is the way it should be of course. So what is the point of ever doing well on the show in the first place? The answer is not much, but just enough.
The way I see it, your entire TUF season\tournament experience is all basically one big tryout for the live finale. Think about it, some guys just get cut straight away and never even make it that far. So you have to at least train hard and look like you have potential as a fighter to make it that far.
The next level of guys are the ones who actually make it on the televised portion of the card. For that you have to probably win a fight, maybe two, and be somewhat interesting of a personality. Obviously, if you are one of the actual finalists, you get headline spot.
HOWEVER, it's really what you do at the finale that counts. Time and time again, it seems like you'd be better off winning a fight on the finale after losing on the show, as opposed to losing at the finale after doing well on the show. Melvin Guillard has lasted longer than Brad Imes and Luke Cummo. Matt Hammil has lasted longer than Josh Haynes. I'd take Grey Maynard and Joe Lauzon over Nate Diaz and Manny right now.
So I think if you took out everything from the show besides the fights, what you would really get is a bunch of exibition fights to determine who gets what placement on a TUF finale card, which itself is the true launching pad for UFC careers.