TUF Future: 10 More Coaches That Can Save UFC's Ultimate Fighter
Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen are two of the UFC's best headliners. (Photo Credit: UFC/Zuffa)
This coming Saturday, one of the most painfully lackluster seasons of The Ultimate Fighter will finally, finally come to a close.
Heavyweight fighters Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin share plenty of the blame for being dim personalities in a reality show that's almost solely driven by rivalries and reality television antics, but FX and the UFC are equally to blame for sticking it in a Friday-night death slot.
Now, things may finally turn around.
UFC light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones (already one of MMA's most divisive personalities) will face off against master trash-talker Chael Sonnen for TUF 17 on Tuesday nights next month, in a season that aims to save the ailing TV show. But what happens after they're done?
Unfortunately, the UFC rarely seems to plan ahead for worst-case scenarios—what if TUF 17 isn't the roaring success they expect?
Instead of slapping a Band-Aid on the situation, the promotion needs to maintain big names for future TUF seasons on FX. Here's 10 more fighters that fit the bill.
Alistair Overeem vs. Junior Dos Santos or Cain Velasquez
"The Reem" has done a lot of talking ever since getting benched last year, and his words haven't escaped the notice of Velasquez or JDS.
In particular, what seems to annoy the top two heavyweights the most is Overeem's constant assertions that both men are simple cowards who ultimately fear the Dutchman and his godly physique.
Dos Santos, for his part, isn't shy about pointing out Overeem's checkered past with high testosterone, while Velasquez is fighting to remind both men that he's not someone to be forgotten.
However the title picture pans out, TUF should have an upcoming season with The Reem coaching opposite one of those two men—either for the UFC Heavyweight Championship or a shot at the title.
Benson Henderson vs. Donald Cerrone
No matter what, it seems that "Cowboy" Cerrone is destined for a UFC title shot.
Even a loss to Nate Diaz didn't set him too far back, as Cerrone rebounded with amazing wins over Jeremy Stephens and Melvin Guillard. If he smashes his way through Anthony Pettis, Cerrone should definitely coach TUF opposite Henderson.
What makes it perfect is the natural rivalry between the two, which started with their "Fight of the Year" showdown at WEC 43 in 2009.
Although Cerrone is 0-2 against Henderson, a third fight is still interesting.
Heck, even if he loses to Pettis, a few more wins should get him back in the mix.
Even if the worst-case scenario happens and Pettis defeats both Cerrone and "Bendo" in back-to-back fights, Henderson and Cerrone can still coach TUF with a shot at the UFC lightweight championship on the line.
Nick Diaz vs. Anybody (But Hopefully GSP)
If the rumored March date for Georges St-Pierre's next title defense is true, we've already missed the boat on this one.
But honestly, who wouldn't want to watch Diaz on reality television?
Even if he loses to GSP as badly as his little brother lost to the UFC lightweight champion, Nick Diaz is still someone that fans want to watch. If Dana White sees fit to grant him a title shot coming off a loss, there's no reason he can't lure Diaz into coaching one season of TUF for the No. 1 contendership.
GSP, Carlos Condit, Rory MacDonald, Jon Fitch or Johny Hendricks—it doesn't really matter who's the opposing coach. Just have the title belt somewhere in the balance, make Diaz show up and rake in the TV ratings.
Anderson Silva vs. Michael Bisping
Out of all the match-ups pegged in this slideshow, this is the only one that pretty much relies on one of the coaches winning his next fight.
That being said, Bisping has one hell of a tall order in front of him when he faces middleweight wrecker Vitor Belfort in the Octagon at UFC on FX 7, especially since his chin will have to hold up against Belfort's sledgehammer-like fists.
But if "The Count" can put down "The Phenom" in Brazil, another TUF stint opposite Anderson Silva seems like a natural fit.
If the UFC was really smart about it, they would even do a "Brazil vs. England" season that was simulcast in both regions and North America. Provided they did it right, it could result in one of the most competitive seasons yet.
Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate
Photo Credit: SHO Sports
Now this is one rivalry that practically writes itself.
Regardless of whether Ronda Rousey successfully defends her UFC women's bantamweight title against challenger Liz Carmouche, there's still a lot of value in her facing off against Miesha Tate on TUF.
For one, both women hate each other with a passion.
Tate knows that women are only in the UFC because of Rousey's superstar charisma, but she still resents her rival for taking away everything that could've been hers—the fame, the fortune and the mainstream appeal. Couple that with a rematch for the women's UFC bantamweight title and you have a potential for lots of confrontational moments in the TUF gym and TUF house.
Moreover, this would be a great platform to host an all-women's season of TUF, with two divisions seeking out to build the women's ranks in the UFC.
Hopefully, Dana White's hamfisted, overly cautious approach to women's MMA doesn't blind him from one simple equation. Ronda Rousey on reality TV times Miesha Tate divided by a houseful of female fighters equals money.