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TUF 17: A Franchise Reborn?

Through four weeks, I’ve found myself a much more interested observer of The Ultimate Fighter than in recent years.

Yes, the idea of a live fight each Friday night was cool to start, but that quickly faded. I felt those episodes lacked a lot of background story, and when you already don’t know much about the fighters competing, the background story is of much importance.

Maybe it’s just the idea that Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen are serving as head coaches and a blowup could happen at any moment? Maybe it’s that pre-hyped KO from Uriah Hall that devastated Adam Cella? I don’t know what it is, but I feel like watching TUF each week.

On my DVR, Tuesdays are not a very busy night. There’s some sporting events on every once in a while, but as far as “regular” shows, TUF is the only thing saved. Right there, as far as I am concerned, moving the program to Tuesday evenings was a perfect decision by the UFC, FOX and whoever else had a hand in it.

Second, the talent on this season – as UFC president Dana White has stated several times – appears to be at its best in years. As MMA continues to grow, more and more fighters are going to be looking to sign deals with the UFC. Not every single talented athlete can do that, but if they go on TUF, perform well, and maybe even capture the title, they can become a star.

Hall has it. Bubba McDaniel appears to have it, as well. Kevin Casey, despite his recent loss, seems poised for a potential career inside the Octagon.

Luke Barnatt will be a big-time star, especially with the continuing expansion in the United Kingdom. Zak Cummings is a veteran, and I’m very interested in seeing how Clint Hester, Josh Samman and Tor Troeng fare down the road.

One other added idea that played well was the decision to bring in family members and friends for the elimination fights. It showed how much this meant to each fighter, and gave the two-hour episode more of a “real” card atmosphere.

So, is The Ultimate Fighter back to producing champions such as Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans, along with contenders like Michael Bisping, John Dodson, Roy Nelson and Nate Diaz?

Only time will tell.

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Fight Cards

UFC 186: Johnson vs. Horiguchi

Event Date: April 25, 2015
Broadcast: Pay-per-view, Fox Sports 1, UFC Fight Pass

UFC Fight Night 65: Miocic vs. Hunt

Event Date: May 10, 2015
Broadcast: UFC Fight Pass

Bellator 137: Halsey vs. Grove

Event Date: May 15, 2015
Broadcast: Spike TV

UFC Fight Night 66: Edgar vs. Faber

Event Date: May 16, 2015
Broadcast: Fox Sports 1

UFC 187: Jones vs. Johnson

Event Date: May 23, 2015
Broadcast: Pay-per-view, Fox Sports 1, UFC Fight Pass

UFC Fight Night 67: Condit vs. Alves

Event Date: May 30, 2015
Broadcast: Fox Sports 1