The season premiere of the 18th installment of “The Ultimate Fighter,” or “TUF,” left viewers wanting more.
“TUF” is a reality competition series following mixed martial artists living together as they fight in two tournaments. This season one tournament will be for bantamweight men while the other is for bantamweight women, making it the first time the show has featured females. The contestants are divided into two teams, and each week members from opposing sides will fight. The winners advance while the losers are eliminated from the contest.
At the end there will be two winners receiving the grand prize – six-figure contracts with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The coaches for the teams are undefeated UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and No. 1 contender Miesha Tate. The series will culminate with the two squaring off in the Octagon for Rousey’s belt at UFC 168 on Dec. 28 in Las Vegas.
The opening minutes of the show were the most memorable. The producers had not told Rousey that UFC fighter Cat Zingano had been replaced as a coach. As the champion walked into the “TUF” gym, she was greeted by Tate. When she found out Tate will be the other coach, Rousey angrily stormed out of the gym.
The tension between Rousey and Tate is palpable. Their verbal exchanges are personal, and if you know anything about these two, you’d know it’s real. It’s always a good thing to have a rivalry between coaches because the fights mean more. But this rivalry may overshadow the season.
“For some reason fate has intertwined the two of us,” Rousey said during the episode. “Me and Miesha were meant to be rivals.”
Another aspect of the show is what happens when eight men and eight women share a house. In other words, this season may become another silly reality show. But the show will go as far as the fights take it. If this first episode was any indication, this season will be intense, drama-filled and enjoyable.
T.J. Brennan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org