The Pros and Cons of a Co-Ed Version of the Ultimate Fighter
The Ultimate Fighter will add some intrigue with a co-ed cast for the first time. The announcement was made just prior to UFC 158 by UFC president Dana White.
UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey joins as the first female coach in the show's history. She will be joined by the winner of Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano.
In-house antics and, of course, fights have long been what has made viewers tune in to the show. Now more than ever, the anticipation of new hijinks—with females and males living together—is the focal point.
We will have to wait to see just how the in-house dynamics play out.
Here are a few pros and cons of the first ever co-ed The Ultimate Fighter cast.
Pro: Building the Women's Division
This pro is the most obvious, and the most important. The Ultimate Fighter will help improve the depth in the division to ensure it sticks around for a long time.
The bantamweight division is growing consistently, but giving it the platform of FX will bring it more attention and gain the sport more interest.
The fighters who try out and make the show will most likely be added to the UFC roster, and therefore give matchmakers more options when mapping out the division. With only 11 roster members to date, the division is in need of some new, young talent to develop.
The upcoming season of the show will help the bantamweight division flourish.
Con: Women Not Standing Alone
One of the major disappointments of the announcement was that they were going to include male bantamweight competitors as well.
The women should have the opportunity to stand alone.
With that being said, there may be good reason for the decision. After all, there is a legitimate concern that they may not get the turnout necessary to stack the season with enough quality female bantamweight fighters. However, they should have been given the chance.
This was a prime opportunity for the UFC to throw their weight behind the women's division fully. They missed it.
Instead, now there is a chance the women will be outshone and seen as a secondary cast.
Pro: Showcasing the Coaches
Ronda Rousey is a star, but whomever your coaching counterpart is, they won't be. This is a great way to introduce other top tier females to the masses.
Cat Zingano or Miesha Tate will step into the limelight and have a full season to show their knowledge, experience and skills to the world. They will also get a full season to trash talk with Rousey. That could add significant interest to the inevitable title fight.
Across all sports, having a female coaching a male athlete is nearly unheard of. This will show that they are capable of building fighters that are worthy of UFC recognition. This should not be lost in the shuffle.
It is a good sign the UFC is utilizing their resources to promote their female stars.
Con: Fighter Perception
This is a mild concern every season, but this one especially brings it to light.
The outside perception of combat sport athletes is that they are dumb, Neanderthals, lushes and more—and we have seen some cast members act the part. These select few have perpetuated the stereotypes, and that continues to be unfortunate.
Another stereotype of a combat sport athlete is of their perceived misogynistic nature. That is the biggest concern of the co-ed casting.
The production will continue supplying copious amounts of alcohol to the cast, and that could prove to provide some interesting moments on the show. These men and women are representing the sport on a national stage every week, and I can only hope they don't act a fool and make the sport look like it's from the dark ages in a drunken stupor.
Pro: Reality Entertainment
Let's face it, they are adult men and women. We will likely see the kind of reality "entertainment" that makes reality TV so successful.
Suggesting otherwise would be to turn a blind eye to the success of reality television.
Drunken moments, pranks and the potential hanky-panky of a co-ed cast could see viewers who are not fans of MMA tuning in. It's just the truth of the matter. As much as hardcore fans would want this to be about the fights and nothing more, that's just unrealistic. It's a TV show in need of TV drama.
It is a pro because of the eyes it could draw to the sport. One could argue it may draw them for the wrong reasons, but out of those reasons could come some long-term fans.
Is it ideal? Probably not, but why do you watch some of the unscrupulous reality shows that are being shown right now? Even if you don't admit it publicly, you will probably be tuning in to see if any debauchery happens.