Thursday, January 27, 2022

Will Usman & Masvidal Be Enough to Revive The Draw of TUF?

The UFC got its start in a peculiar way. They came out as a very violent Fight Club-type venture with no rules and crazy athletes. Instantly, people either loved or hated the UFC. The term “Human cockfighting” is one that any longtime UFC fan has heard before and probably had to defend at one time or another.

Then, something happened. The UFC introduced The Ultimate Fighter, and it became a household program. These men (at the time) were showcasing their skills and wild personalities in homes across the United States and later the world. Because of the love for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), the UFC was able to grow into a global sensation; and frankly, it became a sport, which it really wasn’t even considered at the very start.

However, now 16 years later, the show does not hold the same water as it once did. In the past few years, it seems almost more of a nuisance than a novelty. The show is still a great way to find young, up-and-coming talent, but it seems the drama between coaches is the selling point these days. President Dana White has been teasing a comeback for the long-running show for some time now. That last season aired in November 2018. Since then, there have been a few rumors here and there about who the next coaches will be but with no solid plans.

The latest rumor mill has welterweights Jorge Masvidal and champion Kamaru Usman as probables for team captains. If this is the case, will they have enough star power to finally resurrect this dying reality show?

Let’s look at Masvidal alone. He has gained big-time drawing power over the last year. Beginning with his record-setting knockout of Ben Askren and then following it up with winning the BMF title, Masvidal has become a fan favorite. He may be more liked for his inside-the-cage antics than outside the cage, but either way, he is liked by the fans.

Usman, on the other hand, is an amazing fighter but not necessarily liked as much as Masvidal. They do seem to have a rivalry brewing, which is what the people want to see in TUF coaches. Good fighters who dislike each other are the “MO” of the TUF premise. Usman defeated Masvidal already but has done a good job of enticing the rematch. He expressed that he was not 100 percent during the first fight and that he would absolutely win the second. Masvidal has been playing the same tune. He claims that he would win that bout with a full camp.

Having a title shot on short notice is always difficult, and the trouble of stepping in on a week’s notice should be rewarded with another shot for sure. Now, they know each other, but what if they needed to be around each other for six weeks leading up to the rematch? That would indeed add variables to the game. That is the golden ring of TUF, the added back story between fighters playing out for everyone to see (edited of course).

Those edits are another factor to take into account. As with any reality show, the term “reality” should be taken with a grain of salt. The drama can be exploited any way the UFC brass sees fit. Maybe they don’t hate each other but it can easily be manipulated to appear that way. Or it can easily turn to hatred throughout the filming.

So can a TUF season featuring Usman and Masvidal save this series? Can this matchup bring the eyes back to The Ultimate Fighter and, with it, the fighters looking to get that UFC contract? The short answer could be yes. Yes, these two are big enough to rise up and get people to tune in. Their rematch will be a huge pay-per-view, and they very well may be great coaches at the same time. As Dana White says, it is something the fans want to see.

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