Saturday, August 27, 2011

UFC on Fox: How will ?The Ultimate Fighter? change?

Thursday's landmark announcement that the UFC has a new partnership with the Fox network included the news that the UFC's relationship with Spike TV will end after the upcoming season of "The Ultimate Fighter." The revamped show will air on Fox's sister network, FX.

Its home is far from the only change that will be made for the reality show that helped kickstart the UFC's popularity but has grown stale as of late. Instead of featuring a taped, edited show with taped fights, the fights will be shown live. Packages from life in the fighter house and training will be cut from the things that happened during the week leading up to each fight.

Also, fans will have a chance to help decide the fights, as they will get to vote on upcoming match-ups. The coaches will conduct their training camps over the 12-week period of the show alongside their fighters, and fight at the end of the season. Over the course of two seasons in a year, 24 live fights will be aired on Friday nights.

Of course, there are plenty of questions that will need to be answered about how the UFC will run the show. Will the finale still be an event, like it has been for the past seasons, or just be a part of the show? Will the fight-in shows still happen, or will the cast be decided by the time the show starts?

It also will ask much of both the contestants and the coaches. The winners of the show will be decided as much by their health and ability to withstand the rigors of the show as their fighting potential. Coaches will have to move their training camps to Las Vegas, where the show is taped. Plenty of fighters like to be cloistered off from the rest of the world during training camp, and the temptations of Sin City could be a bit much to handle during camp. That could limit the pool of fighters who want to serve as coaches.

But those are minor quibbles for a show that lost its must-watch edge years ago. The UFC promised a fresh start with Fox, and the changes to "The Ultimate Fighter" shows that they're headed in the right direction.


Jose Bautista Torii Hunter Nick Swisher Vernon Wells

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