There year was 2005, and though Zuffa LLC had bought the UFC years before and made it legal in key jurisdictions in the United States, the sport had yet to break through to the mainstream.
Then came The Ultimate Fighter series on SpikeTV, and whoa Nelly, that was it. Mixed martial arts was suddenly a household name.
Since that momentous time, TUF has had about three thousand seasons and over a billion episodes, and cycled through so many fighters and would-be fighters that it’s impossible to keep track of them all. Nowadays, competing on TUF means nothing. Heck, even winning TUF is a black mark on a fighter’s career.
With ESPN soon to be the new home of everything Octagon, it’s possible we may be in the death throes of the venerable – but hella stale – show.
As UFC boss Dana White told MMAJunkie this weekend:
“We don’t know yet. We’re coming up on the last season of The Ultimate Fighter. We don’t know. It might be the last one. Thirteen years the Ultimate Fighter has gone on. It’s incredible.”
Hey, I’m just as nostalgic as the next guy, but stick a fork in TUF. It’s done.