Going Live: The Ultimate Fighter 15 Season ReviewPosted on May 31, 2012, 11:04 AM by Evan Holober
Another season of the flagship program for mixed martial arts, The Ultimate Fighter, will be in the books after tomorrow night. Number 15 was a lot like past years of TUF. The prospects on the show were not as celebrated entering the house. It looked as if a few guys on the show could conceivably be competing at a lower weight class. Some of the competitors have some potential to be contenders one day. There were some good fights, and there were some boring/ugly fights too. However, season 15 also held many changes also.
For starters, FX took over the franchise from Spike. They moved the weekly program from Wednesday to Friday, and instead of having all the combatants complete in a 4 to 5 week tournament (then airing episodes later on) all shows were live. It was also the first season that consisted of coaches who compete below 155 lbs. Changes were made to the show because new execs wanted it on a different day, and the program had thought to be stagnated popularity wise in recent years. The problem is the changes didn't do any favors for FX, or Zuffa where ratings are concerned.
This was by far the lowest viewed season as TUF is concerned. 6 episodes came in under the 7 figure mark, and it got worse from beginning to end punctuating in episode 11 with 821,000 viewers. TUF's run on Spike averaged about 1.7 million people tuning in. This year averaged a little over a million. While people in charge from both companies openly discussed how they were happy with the ratings, Dana White has told the press that changes will be made before the second live season airs later this year.
This season wasn't all bad though. The guys that did show up put on some good fights. Al Iaquinta vs. Myles Jury was a good scrap. Sam Sicilia vs. Chris Saunders was a decent slug fest. Vinc Piches against the aforementioned Saunders wasn't bad either. Chris Tickle's loss to Joe Proctor was a good back and forth fight too even though it didn't last as long. Justin Lawrence, Myles, Al, and James Vick look to have a bright future ahead of them if they continue to improve. Michael Chiesa dealt with his father's death and gutted through three tough opponents to make it to the finals. Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber carried enough animosity to keep their back and forth banter fresh for the viewers, and we got what was maybe the best prank ever when Team Alpha Male had their "workout session" filled with underwear and baby oil in Team Cruz's dressing room (hilarious). Still changes do need to be made for next season.
The main thing I would like to see altered is the 2 round fights. Pichel vs. Saunders, and Saunders vs. Sicilia could have easily gone to a third round. Jury vs. Iaquinta seemed to go to a third round by mistake, and this is just speculation, but if a third round was already present the second might have been scored differently. Chiesa vs. Larsen was an ugly two rounds where Jeremy seemed to gain steam as the match wore on, and could have benefited from a third round to try for a KO. Some decisions will always be extremely debatable no matter what happens, but keeping an original three round format could take away from a lot shoddy opinions.
Tomorrow night is the finals for season 15, and Dana put almost every contestant on the card. Chiesa fights Iaquinta in for the tournament title and I can't help but think "long hair, don't care's" Cinderella story will end against the tough New Yorker. Hopefully, as fans, these guys have something left in the tank to put on a good show for us.