As I watched the TUF 17 finale weigh-ins, I came to the realization that the TUF fights on the card are as good or better than the main event. Don't get me wrong-Faber and Jorgensen are great fighters, but the fact is that I really am excited to see how Uriah Hall performs.
So then I got to thinking; 'Is this the best season of TUF ever? Obviously U-Hall is the main draw for me, but this season seems to have revitalized the show, and has also had a great cast. Looking back to season one of TUF it's easy to see why many people see it as the greatest season ever. Guys like Josh Koscheck, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, Nate Quarry and Chris Leben all helped build the show.
Up until TUF 1, the world hadn't fully been introduced to the world of MMA so it was a fresh experience. With the great success of TUF since it's inception, it becomes harder and harder each season to please the audience. On camera antics and drunken fights just aren't enough anymore, TUF has needed an evolutionary boost for a while now.
So what makes TUF 17 different? I think it is a blend of things, the first is the quality of the fighters on the show. In previous seasons we have seen guys with 0-0 records in MMA, just try their luck kind of people, I'm not against rolling the dice but it doesn't really make for great match-ups. The experience and skill set of this season's fighters dwarfs the previous shows, and helps to focus the drama more on the fights and fighters themselves, rather than who peed on whose pillow, etc.
The next thing is the coaches, I feel that the coach selection for TUF has a huge bearing on whether the season in question will flop. Case in point: Brock Lesnar. Although it's my personal opinion, I feel Lesnar being appointed as a coach on TUF was an absolutely terrible choice. The WWE star had an awful coaching style, vulgar personality and, at times, a ridiculously theatrical aura. A blend of the aforementioned points, a less than stellar casting and Lesnar's pulling from the show and subsequent fight made this my least favorite TUF stint.
Fast forward to the present day and TUF 17 seems more appealing than any other season I've watched. Maybe its the amount of finishes? From the elimination round all the ways to the finals(which will most likely be a KO, right?) there have only been two decisions, more submissions and knockouts than point-scoring is always good. Or could it be the coaches? For me, Chael Sonnen has been the big surprise. The 'Middleweight Champion' has shown a new, professional, level headed side which is quite intriguing.
As well as the higher caliber of fighters, I think the show has evolved quite a bit. The camera work is different, the fighters know what is expected of them, the coaches are very talented as are their assistant coaches and the show has an overall new feel to it. I certainly hope future shows can live up to TUF 17, because in my book, it is by a longshot the best season yet.