The rumored coach selection for season eight of The Ultimate Fighter turned out to be true. UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Frank Mir, will serve as next season’s coaches, according to Dave Meltzer of Yahoo Sports.
The show will also move locations from Las Vegas to Boston and will feature eight lightweights and eight light heavyweights. The show is scheduled to start airing on September 17 on Spike TV and will lead to an UFC Heavyweight Championship bout likely on the New Year’s Eve card.
Two immediate questions arise, though.
Does Frank Mir Deserve The Next Title Shot?
Mir getting the next title shot will be a hot topic of debate for the rest of the year. He is on a two-fight win streak, but the quality of his opponents, Antoni Hardonk and Brock Lesnar, is questionable. Lesnar impressed a lot of people with his brute power, speed and wrestling ability at UFC 81, but Mir showed that Lesnar is an inexperienced mixed martial artist who still has a lot to learn.
However, Mir doesn’t understand why his win over Lesnar is diminished by Brock’s lack of experience.
“You think some kickboxer is going to beat him? No kickboxer is going to be able to stop his double (-leg takedown). There was a time when nobody in the country in wrestling could stop it.”
While that may be true, we really haven’t seen enough of Lesnar yet to know for sure. What we do know is that the win over Lesnar was the catalyst to Mir’s title shot—something he recognizes.
“It was a shortcut that put me back into title contention.”
The fact of the matter is, timing played a big part in the UFC’s decision to give Mir the next shot. There really are no clear cut heavyweight title contenders in the UFC’s heavyweight division at this point. Randy Couture, who is still recognized as the organization’s champion (for legal reasons), claims he will never come back. Arlovski is most likely fighting at Affliction ‘Banned,’ and said to be signing with Monte Cox’s Adrenaline MMA. Brandon Vera and Fabricio Werdum are already scheduled to collide at UFC 85. It really only leaves Heath Herring as the other contender at this point, but he’s already been beaten by Nogueira, three times.
So, while I don’t think Mir deserves it yet, I do agree with the UFC’s decision to go with Frank.
That aside, Nogueira and Mir are two of the division’s top submission artists. If and when these two fighters go to the ground, it should be a technical
showcase of grappling.
How Will The Ratings Do?
The current season of TUF has produced the shows lowest ratings to date, with perhaps the most charismatic coaches the show has ever had in Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Forrest Griffin. If ratings are declining with those two at the helm, they won’t possibly be any better, unless Dana and co. have a trick up their sleeve, and by that I mean a drastic departure from the show’s traditional format, not just a change in venue or eliminator fights, to open the season.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Nogueira and Mir are tremendous fighters and great people, but their charisma is just not at the same level of a Rampage Jackson or Forrest Griffin. Plus they are not the types that are going to create fireworks between each other like Tito and Ken or Penn and Pulver.
Conversely, it is a good opportunity for the casual fan to get to know Nogueira. He is arguably the second best heavyweight of all time, and the North American audience barely knows him. He is much like the fictional character, Rocky Balboa, that America loves—a fighter who takes beating after beating but always has the heart and mental toughness to push through and pull out the victory.
But, how many people are really going to be watching?