This season of "The Ultimate Fighter" seemed to have the recipe for a perfect season: exciting fights, coaches with a planned clash for a contender's spot, and a random mix of fighters. Unfortunately, this season has just fallen flat, and the sagging ratings back that up.
What is it about this season?
Kinder, gentler Brock: In the past, Lesnar has been a ratings juggernaut. With his WWE-crafted persona and legions of fans, the man is expected to bring eyeballs to the television. Except, this is post-near-fatal-sickness-and-loss-to-Cain-Velasquez Brock. This isn't the same man who got into Frank Mir's face after beating him. He is a humbled fighter who is trying to act as a coach. Is it endearing? Yes. Does it draw big ratings? No.
Even the dramas have no drama: Lew Polley getting fired. Len Bentley standing up to Brock. Keon Caldwell leaving the show. Chris Cope possibly backstabbing his team. These are all moments that could have been memorable moments in the season, but they are only memorable for being so boring. Even at the house, someone being loud is the biggest problem that's come up. I'm not advocating making up drama, but the show has editors for this exact reason. Make it seem interesting. This is a television show, after all.
No fight-in show: One of the best changes in the show's format over the years was the addition of the "fight-in" bouts in the seventh season. Fighters had to win a fight to get a spot on the show. Those first two episodes featured tons of exciting moments and gave an idea of how a contestant was going to perform. They didn't have that this time. Instead of starting the show with a bang, it began with a whimper.
Little interplay between Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos: Rashad vs. Rampage. Koscheck vs. GSP. Henderson vs. Bisping. Every recent season has featured some conflict between the coaches that not only provided exciting television, but made fans more excited for their upcoming bout. Lesnar and dos Santos have said some veiled remarks when not in each other's company, but that's it.
Welterweights ... again: This is the fifth time the show featured welterweights. With heavyweight coaches of this caliber, why not feature heavyweights? They've only been on twice. Then we'd at least get the joy of pointing and laughing at their piss-poor conditioning.
Little knowledge about the fighters: In seasons past, there has been more of a focus on the fighters backgrounds. We see little glimpses of that, like Ryan McGillivray's discussion of his daughter, but they are few and far between. Without a connection to the fighters, there is no incentive to care what happens to them from week to week.
We're 13 seasons in: Anything that's been done for 13 seasons with few changes will get stale. Something needs to be done to shake the show up because the way this is heading, there is little reason to care about season 14.
With quarterfinal and semifinal fights left to go, perhaps the show will pick up and become what it could be. Do you think it will happen? Tell us in the comments or on Cagewriter's Facebook page.