Originally, the simplicity of The Ultimate Fighter was what gave it its ability to attract such a large audience.
Not only did it appeal to the fans who wanted more realistic reality TV shows in an era where everything seemed to be overblown to a ridiculous degree, it gave unaware fans a clear, unfiltered lens into the world of MMA fighters.
TUF succeeded because it showed these larger-than-life men who beat each other up for a living were actual people: they were funny, or stupid or cocky. They were loving fathers and caring husbands. Some were emotionally troubled. And all were chasing a dream.
But we’ve been told these stories so many times now that we know them all by heart.
It’s gotten to the point where these fighters are becoming nothing more than stereotypes.
In the last few seasons in particular, I’ve sat through many a heartfelt interview and all I’ve thought are things like “Oh, so you’re the religious one. Oh, you’re the funny one. Oh, you’re the one that just had a kid. Oh, you’re the fratboy that’s just here to cause trouble.”
Going from pre-taped fights to live fights may have been touted as a major change, but in reality it’s more akin to Survivor going from Jamaica to Australia: no matter what, it’s still the same formula.
And no matter what, you can only watch so much of the same thing before it gets boring.
Is this the UFC’s fault? Hardly.
No television series lasts forever. If anything, the UFC deserves to take a whole lot of pride in the fact that TUF is still alive at all, long past the era where reality TV shows were the “in” thing.
But let’s be honest: the formula is stale—it’s been stale for quite some time now and it’s getting staler.
And not only is that the number one reason I only tuned in once this season, it’s the number one reason why I can see myself doing the same thing next season.