Would a WMMA Version of TUF Help or Hurt the Growth of WMMA?

Joe ChaconContributor IIIMarch 21, 2012

Gina Carano | Photo: thenextgreatfighter.com
Gina Carano | Photo: thenextgreatfighter.com

UFC's The Ultimate Fighter series has been a major factor in the brand's mainstream success since it debuted in 2005.

While interest in the show over the last few years has wained a bit, the new format of showing the fights live every week should bring back fans who may have lost interest.

There may not be a better time than now to introduce a women's versions of TUF to help promote the growth of Women's Mixed Martial Arts.

Think of a show in which the two coaches are Ronda Rousey and Gina Carano, with the live finale at the end being Carano's return to fighting. Are you telling me that The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs. Team Carano wouldn't be something you'd want to see?

Let's forget the difficulties in seeing this come to fruition and focus on how it would help the growth of WMMA.

Men are tuning into a UFC reality show each week, and have been for the last seven years. The key demographic for TUF viewers are males between the ages of 18-34. The key demographic for a women's version of TUF would be males and females between those same ages.

Hypothetically speaking, let's say that both TUF: Live (Faber vs. Cruz) and TUF: Rousey vs. Carano debuted at the same time a couple of weeks ago with Faber/Cruz on FuelTV and Rousey/Carano on FX.

Do you agree with me in saying Rousey/Carano would have higher ratings than Faber/Cruz?

Having a TUF for WMMA would also address a very important concern for those involved with the sport. It would introduce us to more women fighters instead of continuing to promote just the handful of popular ones we have today.

For the sport to thrive, there has to be more than Rousey, Carano, Santos, Miesha Tate and Marloes Coenen (remember her?). The fact that we are still talking about Carano as being remotely relevant in the sport even though she hasn't fought in nearly three years is alarming.

Ideally, the WMMA TUF show will give all MMA fans a greater respect for the women athletes and introduce us to female fighters that can help deepen the talent pool of the sport.

WMMA can only go as far as the fans will take it. If fans think male professional MMA fighters don't get paid well, imagine the paychecks these female fighters are getting in the lower promotions. Fighters, male or female, can't afford to spend all of their time training if they aren't earning enough from fighting to sustain a living.

Having a WMMA version of TUF could go a long way in helping the sport dramatically increase it's audience and allow it to stay in the mainstream for many years to come.