All-Star Ultimate Fighter
Now that the UFC has done their all female edition of the Ultimate Fighter there really isn’t much left for them to do to differently on the show. They could bring in another heavyweight edition. The biggest weight class in the UFC is also the thinnest. But one thing they’ve never done is have an All-Star edition of their hit reality show. Survivor has done it as have other reality shows. Bring back some guys who have already appeared on the show but this time don’t dangle a UFC contract in front of them. Dangle a bigger carrot like a fight in a title eliminator against the #1 contender.
After season 3 the UFC wanted to do something different after previous seasons showcased up and coming fighters and they brought back veterans and offered a title shot to the winner. Fan favorites such as Shonie Carter, Matt Serra, and Chris Lytle got to fight on TV in front of fans who hadn’t really been around when they began fighting. It also was the catalyst for the biggest upset in the history of MMA. The winner of the welterweight tournament, Matt Serra would go on to knockout champion Georges St. Pierre to become the new champ. The middleweight winner, Travis Lutter squandered his opportunity by missing weight before going on to lose to Anderson Silva in a non-title fight.
The UFC should bring back the All-Star idea for the middleweights. Vitor Belfort is scheduled to face Chris Weidman in December so the next title fight won’t be until the late Spring to Summer of 2015. I don’t think it’s really fair to offer a title fight to the winner but instead offer them a spot in an eliminator bout against the #1 contender Jacare Souza. Whoever wins the show and faces Souza would face the winner of Belfort vs. Weidman.
In the middleweight division there are a lot of guys in the middle of the pack. A lot of them have been on TUF before and could be brought back. Bring 12 of them in and offer them the opportunity to earn a title shot and have two wildcard slots in the quarterfinals similar to season 11 when Kris McCray got to fight his way back into the tournament. Also two notable middleweights who appeared on the show, Patrick Cote and Michael Bisping should serve as coaches. But there will be a new wrinkle to the show. Cote and Bisping will not only coach but get to enter the tournament in the second round as the wildcards. That would really be a twist that no one sees coming except the two coaches. Imagine the drama of having a guy like Bisping pick a guy for his team, coach him for his first fight then call him out for the next round.
Here are 12 of the guys under UFC contract I would bring on the show who have already done a previous season.
Before dropping a decision to Tom Watson last month Alvey had won 4 straight. He’s won 5 of his last by 6 and is known for having exciting fights. He’s a likable kid and is a great fit for the show. He did season 16 and was a member of Team Carwin. He lost to Joey Rivera by decision once he got into the house despite being the top pick for Shane Carwin. A chance for redemption could be just what he needs to get his career kicked into the next gear.
Andrews appeared on season 13 of TUF and won his first three fights on the show before falling to eventual finalist Uriah Hall. Since he was on the show Andrews has gone 2-1 in the UFC and lost to Clint Hester last December. Andrews has heavy hands and his fights are always good for a knockout. Andrews is stuck in the lower tier of the division and a shot at an eliminator fight could entice him to do the show again.
Barnatt, like Andrews appeared on TUF 13. He was Chael Sonnen’s first pick on the show but lost in the quarter-finals to Dylan Andrews. Since the show he has gone 2-1 in the Octagon and lost his last fight to Sean Strickland. Being a UK native Barnatt would keep fans from England tuning in each week.
Camozzi was on the eleventh season of TUF but isn’t remembered for this time on the show. In his bout to get into the house Camozzi defeated Victor O’Donnell but in the process broke his jaw. The Athletic Commission suspended him and he was sent home. The UFC brought him back for the Finale where he won a decision over James Hammortree. Two years ago Camozzi got on a 4 fight win streak and was starting to emerge a title contender. Last Spring he faced Ronaldo Souza and lost. Since then he has 4 straight and would be a good fit for the show to try to turn his career around.
Like Camozzi, Herman started out on The Ultimate Fighter and has bounced around in the UFC. He also has been at the top of the division a few times after notable winning streaks but he can’t seem to get over the hump. “Short Fuse” has been close to breaking through but losses to Demian Maia and Jake Shields sent him back down the ladder. Herman beat Rafael Natal in May in his last fight. Herman is a polarizing character and would be a great fit for the show.
Lawlor appeared on TUF 8 and lost to Ryan Bader after winning his fight to get in the house. At the Finale he was brought back and defeated Kyle Kingsbury. Lawlor was added to UFC 100 where he upset CB Dollaway where he won sumbission of the night. Since then he was gone 3-4. He did win his last fight last Spring against Michael Kuiper. Lawlor loves the cameras and would be a good addition to the show.
Hall was the star of season 13 but hasn’t found the same type of success in the UFC. His brutal knockouts on the show made him a fan favorite but he is 2-2 in the Octagon counting his Finale loss to Kelvin Gastelum. Hall has won his last two but bringing him back would be a solid addition to the cast.
Leben announced his retirement after a TKO loss to Hall in December. But imagine the intrigue he would bring to the show. He is a lightning rod and I can only imagine him and Bisping getting into it. Leben may not want to do the show but the UFC has enough money to convince him to change his mind.
Ring was featured on season 11 and won his first two fights on the show, one of which was over eventual winner Court McGee. An ACL injury forced Ring off the show. He was brought back to fight in the octagon and went 3-1 in his first four fights but he dropped two straight and his record now stands at 3-3 with Zuffa. Ring should be brought back for the show because he never got to finish the season and it could be a theme on the show about him wanting to redemption.
Samman was on the cast with Uriah Hall on season 13. The two men didn’t like each other and talked about wanting to fight the other but it never materialized. This is the first fight to make on the show. Hall was the star of their season and Samman was sen as the cocky villain who everyone wanted to see get knocked out. Samman vs. Hall would be a big fight for the show. He won his first 3 on the show before falling to Kelvin Gastelum in the semis. He did win his fight against Kevin Casey at the Finale and is 1-0 in the UFC.
Tavares appeared on season 11 of the show and made it all the way to the semi-finals before losing to the eventual winner Court McGee. He was brought back for the Finale and won his first two fights in the UFC. After a loss to Aaron Simpson Tavares won his next five and was ranked #5 in the UFC middleweight rankings. But two straight losses to Yoel Romero and Tim Boetsch have knocked him from contender status. A spot on the show could be big for his career and Tavares could be a darkhorse to win the show.
Zachrich won his fight to get into the house but then lost to Dan Cramer and was out of the competition on season 7 of TUF. After the show he went 6-1 and wound up getting to the UFC in April 2014. The Cincinnati native lost his first fight to Caio Magalhaes and didn’t even look competitive. But Zachrich did come back in July and defeated Guilherme Juliao by decision to bring his record to 1-1. Zachrich isn’t a household name but he could be the underdog you want to see succeed on the new season.
You can set up the tournament like this.
vs Dylan Andrews
vs Tom Lawlor
vs Luke Zachrich
vs Ed Herman
vs Josh Samman
vs Brad Tavares
It’s doubtful the UFC will ever do anything like this but it would be an intriguing way to bring back guys the UFC has already invested money and time in. If casual fans already know some of these guys like Bisping, Hall, and Leben it could make for some big ratings as well.