7 Reasons TUF Brazil Is a Brilliant Idea
The Ultimate Fighter has dedicated 14 seasons to the development of an always-changing cast of pro MMA fighters looking to sign under contract to the UFC, and with The Ultimate Fighter 14 in the books as of Dec. 3, the show has featured a little bit of something for everyone.
They've had determined family men, instigators, former UFC standouts, loose cannons, guys who were on the show just to show their face to the world, straight-up wacky SOBs, and Kimbo Slice.
There have also been guys with wicked Afros, all-UK teams against all-US fighter casts, a man who went on to say a few crazy things (and a few porn stars), and even a lovable little "Death Leprechaun" named John Dodson who hopefully returns to Flyweight, but there's one thing that TUF has not had, and that's a season that featured up to 16 of the best from one country outside of the US.
Alas, UFC 142 co-headliner Vitor Belfort and MMA legend Wanderlei Silva will coach two such teams when The Ultimate Fighter's 16th season hits the spiritual birthing grounds of the sport, and let this guy tell you all that a trip to Brazil is a smooth move.
Well, I have about seven good reasons why this idea is actually quite brilliant, so stick with me on this, won't you please, MMA world?
The UFC's Expansion into the Brazilian Market
Brazil is home to a pretty sweet nightlife, a renowned soccer team and, as stated before, it's the spiritual birthplace of Mixed Martial Arts.
The UFC and Zuffa have brought their brand of the sport to Brazil before, and now it's time for TUF to break in as the first international season of the highly acclaimed series.
Will this be the season to show how TUF can help the sport expand into the seemingly impenetrable markets?
The UFC knows that there's only so many times they can go hoping for a Brazilian fighter to not only try out for TUF, but also to make the cut for a season that is going to be taped in Las Vegas, and they also know that TUF must eventually factor into the Zuffa plan for global expansion somehow.
Clearly, a TUF season in Brazil was eventually going to be a part of that plan, but creating a plan and putting that plan into action are two different animals.
But if there was one thing we've learned about the Zuffa brass and the UFC brand of MMA, it's that they're usually ready to implement solutions at the exact minute that we are ready to speculate about potential problems.
TUF Brazil is no exception, and while Season 14 was arguably one of the best seasons ever, one can bet on watching as the first international season tries to top the drama and excitement of the seasons before it.
Vitor "The Coach" Belfort
What can be expected from Vitor Belfort when TUF hits Brazil?
One might expect a man not too different from the man who walks into the gym day in and day out with intentions of putting in work at the moment he enters.
That's probably the one thing fans have come to respect about Vitor: he faces his obstacles head-on, and he takes care of what he has to do today so that he's on the right track towards coming into his fights at close to 100 percent physically and mentally.
Vitor has a strong work ethic and a healthy bank of knowledge to loan to the men he helps train during this season of TUF.
While his team may not be scoring 45-second KOs on this season, Vitor and Co. may just find a way to instill a similar focus and a discipline into their minds are they try to move one step forward in their quest to win the first international season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Wanderlei Silva...The Axe-Handling Instructor?
You might have to see Wanderlei Silva in person, as a coach and instructor at the Wand Fight Team gym in Vegas, in order to get any sort of idea as to how he trains.
If there was one strength to having Silva as a coach on TUF, it'd be the type of coaching he embodies to help motivate his fighters.
He's a good-natured guy who pushes fighters to work hard, but above all else, his key thing is finding out who has the heart to press forward and get going when the going gets to feel like a fine slice of Hell on Earth.
I wouldn't bank on seeing anything less than the same Wanderlei that guys like Michael Costa, Vitor Vianna, and Jorge Lopez are accustomed to seeing whenever they have to train for a fight.
But don't be surprised if something about TUF (or Vitor Belfort) brings out a familiar intense version of "The Axe Murderer" during this upcoming season.
BJ Penn was one of the first two coaches for any season of TUF involving the Lightweights, and the simple fact is that the Lightweights put on a show every time (for the most part).
It'll seem weird for two Middleweights to coach them, but if there was going to be any weight class that could deliver the type of fitting action needed in order to call TUF Brazil a success, it'd be the Lightweight division.
This class, along with the Middleweight division, was the cause for many raised eyebrows at first, seeing as how Lightweight is stacked, Middleweight crowned Court McGee during Season 11, and not since Season 8 had anyone thought about possibly loading up the most must-see weight class of 2011, which is the Light Heavyweight division.
Like we said before, though, the UFC is set on solving this issue before we speculate on how they will aim to solve this issue. If Lightweight is one of classes involved here, then maybe there is no issue to resolve.
Season 11 was the last time Middleweights were featured on TUF, and although Lightweights and Welterweights will once again share the stage for Season 15, the 155-pounders will share the stage with the 185-pound division for the season featuring Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva.
Middleweights have made for some rather interesting bouts in seasons past, and while some fans might have preferred a different weight class to be featured, they know exactly what they will be getting when the Middleweights come out to play for this season of TUF.
The Live Finale
The Ultimate Fighter's live season finales have traditionally featured one or two fighters from the cast on the main card, along with the season finals in whatever division was represented that season and also a fight put together just to feature some familiar faces.
The big question surrounding the first international TUF Finale is who will fill it out from top to bottom, as we're not sure exactly who will be featured on the show or what they will bring to the table that fighters from past seasons did not bring to the table.
But as soon as we find out who will be representing Brazil for the 16th season of TUF, we may have a better idea of what might be expected come next season.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Vitor Belfort, Part II
The first time, Vitor Belfort mounted a quick comeback and finished Wanderlei Silva in only 45 seconds.
Yes, 45 seconds was all it took. Seriously.
Barring any injuries suffered against Anthony Johnson at UFC 142, Belfort is expected to rematch Silva at the end of the season in a bout that has the potential to at least last 45 seconds longer than the first one did.
Silva managed to not only keep most of his cool against Cung Le, but he also survived the very shots that were supposed to put him away quickly and eventually put Le away in round two.
Meanwhile, Belfort finished Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133 and would like to take the Silva fight coming off of a win, but Anthony Johnson has other ideas.
What will happen when the two collide?
No one knows, but here's hoping it at least makes it out of the first minute.