UFC President Dana White has been hearing it from fight fans for months that the seven-year-old "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show is in dire need of a drastic format change to boost its television ratings back up to the levels of 2009, when Kimbo Slice's appearance in Season Ten reeled in an audience that topped the five million mark.
One of the popular ideas being thrown around on MMA internet forums is an all-female season of the show, and White addressed the thought during a media gathering on July 19 following the UFC 149 pre-fight press conference in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
"Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, you have a couple girls out there, and there's probably more," White said of the female fighters that he thinks highly of (3:43 mark of the video). "I'm not as well-versed on women's MMA as I am on [men's MMA.] But until there's enough talent to create an entire division, you'd just have one-off fights, so I don't know."
While it was probably a bad sign for the potential of a female fight in the UFC that White couldn't name any elite women's MMA fighters besides Rousey and Tate, he did openly and willingly discuss the idea of an all-female season of TUF.
"Anything Is Possible"
"I don't know," White said with a smile and a chuckle when asked if he would consider an all-female season of the show. "I don't think so.....I mean...I don't know. Anything is possible, but it's not even anything that's crossed my mind. Not even close."
Ouch. That certainly wasn't a glowing endorsement for an all-female season of the show, but his admiration for Ronda Rousey and admission that anything is possible when it comes to MMA, gives fight fans hope that female fighters will be gracing the stage of the big show someday in the near future.
In my view, White would be crazy to not consider an all-female season of "The Ultimate Fighter." With the target audience being males age 18-34, a house full of pretty girls who can also legitimately fight at a high level, would easily be a ratings bonanza.
Ronda Rousey already set teenage boy's hearts aflutter with her recent appearance on the cover of ESPN the Magazine's 2012 Body Issue, but the majority of the fight fans who watch "TUF" likely don't know much about the beautiful Michele Gutierrez or the lovely Miesha Tate.
The three aforementioned girls may be easy on the eyes, but they each have the fighting skills and charisma to back it up in the cage and captivate an audience on a reality show. "TUF" would be the perfect platform to elevate the profiles of Tate, Rousey and Gutierrez to new heights.
I can only imagine the antics and drama that would ensue if Rousey was let loose in a house with Tate and other fighters who she had a real-life "beef" with in the past. One thing is for sure. It would make for some must-see TV.
Here's how I would break it down if there was an all-female season of The Ultimate Fighter:
Team Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos (Coach)
- Ronda Rousey
- Julie Kedzie
- Marloes Coenen
- Hitomi Akano
- Vanessa Porto
- Kaitlin Young
- Shayna Baszler
- Amanda Nunes
Team Gina Carano (Coach)
- Sarah Kaufman
- Miesha Tate
- Sara McMann
- Alexis Davis
- Liz Carmouche
- Michele Gutierrez
- Sarah D'Alelio
- Vanessa Porto
Eric Holden is a lifelong UFC fan and supporter of the sport of mixed martial arts. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.