With the new season of The Ultimate Fighter looming on the horizon the usual criticisms from MMA fans are surfacing. The focus being on the "bad apples" that appear in the show, and what kind of impression they and the show will give to the casual or potential fan of our beloved sport of MMA.
I am a fan of The Ultimate Fighter, I like the concept, I enjoy the drama when it all "kicks off." I also think people focus far too much on the negative that takes place in the show and forget the much more prevalent positive.
For every Junie Browning or Chris Leban that stands out on the show as a poor ambassador of the sport there are 10 fighters who shine as exactly what the sport wants. The Nate Quarry's, Forest Griffin's, Josh Koschecks, and Michael Bispings (I could go on) are maybe not forgotten but certainly not used as examples of the positive when the show is getting bad press.
The show itself is very much responsible for MMA being as popular as it is today. For every potential fan it may turn off it will attract two. It has given us champions and fine ambassadors. It has helped develop MMA in the UK into a mainstream sport. Without The Ultimate Fighters early UK competitors I doubt this season would be possible.
The show is reality TV, it is a product of its age and without a shadow of a doubt the best marketing tool the UFC has in its arsenal. It's the MTV of MMA and because of this it will always have its detractors.
There will never be good without bad. All you can hope for is that the good far out weighs the bad. With The Ultimate Fighter I believe it does.
Even the fore mentioned Junie Browning seems to have got his act together and is becoming an exciting prospect and far more likable person, what he did on the show will probably never be forgotten, but I think can be forgiven.
Leban become a popular fighter before his fall from grace regarding steroid abuse, but that is a pitfall of any sport not just MMA.
I would consider myself a hardcore MMA fan, but I am unapologetic for liking the show, the positive and the negative, the drama and "bad Apples."
All I ask is that we remember the many good things The Ultimate Fighter has done for MMA and the UFC, yes there are things that happen on the show that can be considered to be giving the sport a bad name, but far more that elevate the sport and its athletes.
Fighters are usually fighters for a reason, I'm sure we can forgive the occasional loss of temper, drunken night, and spat of bad behaviour. Can you honestly say if you where locked in a house with no TV or Entertainment with 15 other men who wanted to kick your ass you wouldn't act up? I cant.