MMA fans get ready-Ultimate Fighter Season 18 is almost here. As announced, the show will premier on September 4 and will feature UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey coaching against her long time rival, Miesha Tate.
As with any season of The Ultimate Fighter, MMA fans across the board can enjoy all the hard work and commitment the sport demands without ever leaving the couch. It’s wonderful. The show unites the die hard and casual fan, presenting an inside look into the fighters’ lives and training regiments as they are locked and tested in one house for weeks at a time, with other fighters, just as tried and tested as they. And as we all know, the high levels of testosterone and stress floating in the air often erupt into outrageous and violent scenarios, mostly ending in good entertainment for viewers. Sure, at times these moments of outbreak or rebellion may be a bit sensationalized, but recall how much Season 1 did for the entire sport of MMA, and not just the UFC.
Season 1 aired on January 17, 2005 and the sport has never been the same. Some argue that it made a change for the worse, claiming that MMA became too commercialized after the show, but others maintain that the sport gained some of its greatest talent and memorable fights because of the Ultimate Fighter’s success. In either case, the sport evolved, and a new generation of fight fans were born.
This makes me think of the potential changes that season 18 may usher in. Never before have two women coached the Ultimate Fighter, and if the show helped MMA become what it is today, it could help change women’s MMA as well. If it were not for the stellar line up of Rousey and Tate, I would have my doubts, but I have a feeling that these two will not disappoint. Rousey, aware of the excitement that surrounds she and Tate whenever they are squared off against one another, compared them to a modern day Ali and Frazier: “I think people will look back at this as one of the monumental rivalries and look back at this as one of those things that really cemented women’s MMA.”
To date, women’s MMA is barely gaining the recognition it deserves, and even then, some in the sport still hold their views against it. George St. Pierre recently stated that he has little interest in watching women fight, and one could only imagine what kind of response that elicited from WMMA fans. However, Miesha Tate may have been among the most vocal: “I’m hoping George St. Pierre can open his mind a little bit and actually watch some women’s fights.” She continued by professing her admiration for GSP and hoped that he would eventually come around.
The truth is that with the help of the Ultimate Fighter season 18, a lot of people will get to watch “some women’s fights,” as women along with men will be bunking in the same house for the entire season. It sounds like a recipe for chaos, but it also sounds a recipe for success.