In a year that has been mired with controversy and lackluster fight cards, MMA fans can find hope and entertainment in the new show brought to us by the UFC. Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender Series” is a cross between “The Ultimate Fighter”, and Dana’s YouTube series “Looking For a Fight”. While still in its early stages with some kinks to be worked out, it would appear that this could be the next big show in MMA.
Every Tuesday, a group of fighters selected by White will compete for the chance to win a UFC contract. Unlike TUF however, fighters will not have to cut weight multiple times over the course of a few weeks, but will instead have one chance to prove their worth to the boss. White continued to show that he is willing to change his mind at any time, as he went on to offer two contracts on opening night. As you can see, there are similarities between the other UFC programs, but the premise is the only thing that has not been original.
For those of you who listen to Joe Rogan’s Podcast, you may have stumbled across several videos called “The Fight Companion”. In these videos, Rogan and company gather in his studio to watch UFC events together, and give an alternative commentary mixed with dirty jokes, weed, and alcohol. The fights themselves are not shown, but you can sync them up to the actual fight and listen along as you watch. I believe that the UFC caught wind of this and decided to create their own alternative. Recently, it was announced that rapper Snoop Dogg would provide an alternate commentary for the contender series, and it is solid gold. Snoop has already made waves by singing a lullaby during a replay to a fighter who got knocked out. This alternative commentary alone is almost more entertaining than most running TV shows.
While the fights are broadcasted live, they are only aired online through UFC Fight Pass. In order to watch the fights, you must subscribe to the site. Only in its second week, contender series has provided plenty of action, and even some better knockouts than what we’ve seen on PPV. My only real complaint about the show so far is that it takes place at the TUF gym. The camera angles in there and the feel of the fight could be enhanced if the UFC were to change venues. Understandably, the UFC is cutting costs by holding the event in areas that they control, and perhaps in the future, if the show continues to be a success, they will either make this a traveling series or possibly change venues.
UFC weight divisions with a lack of star power such as the heavyweight and featherweight divisions could benefit from the series in particular, as it allows fresh talent to be scouted every week and can generate new stars. The development of prospects has been an area that has been vastly undercovered in such a growing sport, but it would appear that our first real taste of true scouting is with this new series. I personally am excited by the possibilities that this series brings, and I hope it will grow into something special that all fighting fans can look to for new talent to support.
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