The Ultimate Fighter reality show has constantly reinvented itself with fresh new formats over the years to keep the content engaging and appealing to viewers.
Since 2005, the series has utilized numerous gimmicks to keep fans tuned in, including its current format that features live elimination fights for the first time in its history. In the past, we've also seen the show change things up by adding wildcard rounds and the fun concept of making the athletes "fight their way into the house."
But nothing would be more dramatic and "must-watch" than an all-female cast of the Ultimate Fighter, which could serve as a springboard of introducing women's MMA into the UFC.
If this were to happen, I would like to see the UFC bring back the format of the first season of the Ultimate Fighter, which featured a total of 16 fighters from two different weight classes.
The series could easily feature the top eight women's bantamweights and eight of the best featherweights in the world, with celebrity coaches that would likely include the likes of Gina Carano, Kim Couture, Kyra Gracie or even Cris "Cyborg" Santos.
Most of the top women's pound-for-pound athletes would likely jump at the chance to be on the show, as it represents a level of exposure that WMMA hasn't yet received on a steady basis.
UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta says he was blown away by the March 3 match between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, and that he sees a bright future ahead for the sport. "I think that there's enough great athletes out there and when you see the stature, the celebrity, the money that these girls are now starting to make, I think you're going to see more women rise to the occasion and want to become professional athletes and compete," he said in a MMAfighting.com interview. "So I'm kind of positive on the whole thing."
In my view, an all-female cast of the Ultimate Fighter would likely become the highest-rated season of the show since Kimbo Slice appeared in the series in 2009.
The early ratings of the current season of the Ultimate Fighter were reportedly much lower than the three million viewers Dana White was hoping for, so it's clear that something drastic needs to happen to get fans excited about the show again.
Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar's standup war in 2005 propelled men's MMA and the UFC into the mainstream of American sports.
I believe a competitive battle as exciting as Miesha Tate's fight against Ronda Rousey was on March 3, would be enough to put women's mixed martial arts on the map, just as Griffin and Bonnar's tilt did for men's MMA seven years ago.
Besides the actual fights, Ronda Rousey's personality alone would be enough to carry the show and make viewers want to tune in. I can only imagine the amazing drama and epic antics that would go down if Rousey lived in the same house as Tate for an extended period of time.
Throw elite fighters like Sarah Kaufman, Alexis Davis, Marloes Coenen, Liz Carmouche, Julie Kedzie, Kaitlin Young, Julia Budd, Romy Ruyssen, Hitomi Akano and Zoila Gurgel into the mix, and you have yourself a "can't-miss" hit show.
Eric Holden is a lifelong UFC fan and supporter of the sport of mixed martial arts. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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