Lessons learned from season 13 of “The Ultimate Fighter”

Maggie Hendricks

Thirteen seasons in, any television show is going to feel stale, and "The Ultimate Fighter" has not escaped that fate. The show failed to excite throughout its 10-episode season.

In sitcom-land, this is usually when a long-lost daughter with a cute child who has a sassy catchphrase is introduced. Unfortunately for the UFC, Brock Lesnar had no sassy catchphrase, as his oft-repeated "Are we chicken s*** or chicken salad?" only served to confuse his fighters, and didn't prop up the ratings.

With just the live finale to go, we can now look back at the season and see what needs to be done to improve next season.

Go with exciting coaches over an "important match-up." The Brock Lesnar-Junior dos Santos match-up was to decide who the next heavyweight contender. That alone made that fight significant and exciting. It didn't need the TUF build-up to create interest. Lesnar and dos Santos showed themselves to be nice guys, but nice guys don't make watchable television.

Luckily, the UFC has already remedied that with the selection of Jason "Mayhem" Miller (pictured) and Michael Bisping for the coaches of TUF 14. Both men excel at getting under people's skin and running their mouths, which makes for much better television.

Share more about the fighters' stories. On this TUF cast, we had a devout Muslim, the son of a Baptist pastor, a man who was going through child-custody problems, and another father who kept the picture of his daughter with cornermen while he fought. They came from a diverse set of backgrounds and regions, and yet we only caught a glimpse of what made them interesting.

Let us get to know them, and we'll want to tune in and and cheer for (or against) these fighters. Not only that, it will make fans more interested in the fighters once they do reach the UFC.

Don't do anything to the Coaches Challenge. The episode where the coaches engage in a competition that has nothing to do with MMA is usually a highlight. This season, dos Santos, a Brazilian who knew nothing about American football, defeated Lesnar in a challenge that centered around American football. Leave it as is, unless the payout to coaches and fighters is upped.

Bring back the fight-in bouts. Taking away the requirement that fighters had to fight their way onto the show took away the action-packed first episodes. Fortunately, Dana White has already said that eliminating the fight-in bouts was a mistake, and that they will return for season 14.

What other changes would you like to see for "The Ultimate Fighter?" Will you tune in next season? Tell us in the comments or on Facebook.

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