The Ultimate Fighter 16 will go down in infamy for a number of reasons.
The season never got off the ground in terms of ratings with a terrible Friday night timeslot and ended up with some of the lowest numbers in the history of the long-running reality show. Add to that the only serious tension during the season was between coach Roy Nelson and UFC president Dana White, and overall it was a mediocre effort at best.
The fighters on the show also came under fire for what White believed were lackluster performances. When the season ended, only four fighters got the call to come back to the UFC including the two finalists—Colton Smith and Mike Ricci.
Veteran competitor Bristol Marunde was sad that his season ended up being the black sheep of The Ultimate Fighter family, and after sacrificing so much to get to the show, not even competing on the finale was heartbreaking.
"It was real disappointing," Marunde told Bleacher Report on Thursday. "I'll tell you it was hard to finally get that news that you are not fighting on the finale. It was a big blow because I put in a lot of time on that show. I didn't do it to be on a reality show. I didn't do it to be away from my family for seven weeks and all that to try to get famous. I did that show for the specific reason of getting a fight in the UFC. To not get that chance was devastating.
"I honestly even questioned whether I should keep fighting. Because I went on The Ultimate Fighter and still didn't get a chance to fight in the UFC. I did what they told me to do. I just threw bombs and tried to finish fights and try to make it exciting, and didn't even use very good strategy."
Marunde was eliminated during the quarterfinal matchups and then never got the call to return to the UFC after the show finished filming. Looking back on the experience, Marunde isn't sure if his season was ever given the push it needed to get any kind of serious exposure.
"It was disappointing. It was evident they didn't put a whole lot behind it," said Marunde. "From the beginning, it was slapped together. They didn't want the slot at 10 p.m. on Friday night on FX. You just suffer the brunt of poor planning and everything. It was frustrating and we felt it."
Marunde says he also felt the impact of the words brandished by White toward the cast during the season. He changed his style of fighting to accommodate the boss's wishes, but it still wasn't enough to get another shot in the UFC.
That all changed last Wednesday when he saw UFC matchmaker Joe Silva's number pop up on his caller ID while he was driving. A few moments later he was offered a fight against Clint Hester at The Ultimate Fighter 17 finale this Saturday night.
While Marunde participated in the previous season, he's looking at this fight as his chance to earn a spot on the UFC roster. It's the chance he didn't get during the The Ultimate Fighter 16, and he's not planning on wasting it.
"It's kind of a second chance. The call to fight in this finale, it was definitely a blessing," said Marunde. "I really want to go in here, I want to be calm, I want to be relaxed and fight to my ability. Most of all I want to enjoy this.
"Because I get to fight in the UFC and I do what millions of people want to do or dream about or fantasize about, and I get to do it. I'm going to enjoy it. Every minute of it."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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