Four ways to improve ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ (Cagewriter)


Four episodes into the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter" on FX, and it's clear the new network has made its mark. With the show switching to a live format, every episode has a very different feel from the show's previous 14 seasons, which aired on Spike. Though the fights have been exciting -- particularly Friday's three-rounder between Al Iaquinta and Myles Jury -- the show still hasn't quite found a rhythm. Here are some ways they could work on that:

Fit the show in the timeslot: Every episode to date has run over its timeslot, with fight decisions and fight announcements coming after the show was scheduled to end. It's 2012. Nearly 40 percent of American homes have DVRs. The UFC targets men 18-49, and they really think that age group is going to stay home and watch one fight on a Friday night? Fights don't normally start until 45 minutes into the show, and there is way too much filler throughout the show. Edit it more tightly, and the show will fit.

Figure out a place for Jon Anik: When word came Anik was going to be involved with TUF, it seemed like a great step for the show. Coaches yelling directions to fighters was not as interesting as producers wanted it to be, and the show could use someone to talk about the fights as they happened. Anik has proven himself to be a talented play-by-play man for Bellator and the UFC.

Unfortunately, play-by-play is not what he's doing for TUF. He's the show's host, and that title is a nebulous as it seems. Four episodes in, it's still not clear what he's supposed to be bringing to the show.

Play up the heat between Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz: The rivalry that has brewed between the two coaches for years has cooled to the temperature of iced tea. There are no fights, no yelling matches, no pranks. Even when Cruz tried to raise the stakes by letting Faber pick an opponent for Justin Lawrence, the move just turned into an awkward moment. Something needs to happen to reignite the fire that had these two begging to coach against each other this season.

Keep commercial breaks to a minimum: After the season premiere, complaints about too many commercials were all over the comment section on this site, on Facebook and on Twitter. Every fight brought about another commercial break, and that was on top of the in-show sponsorships. On Friday, a three-minute commercial break came during the Iaquinta/Jury fight. In-fight breaks are usually one minute because it's the length of breaks between rounds.

The good news is the length of those breaks will no longer be an issue. White said after Friday's fight that there won't be an in-fight break that's three minutes long. It was just a growing pain in moving to a new network.

What would you do to improve the show? Tell us in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter.

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