Joe Rogan predicted putting women and men in the TUF house together for TUF 18 would be like “cats and dogs“. That was the worry of many going into this season, but it didn’t take long to realize the season focus wouldn’t be the actions of the girls inside the house, but their actions inside of the cage.
Best: Women’s Fights
The highlight of the season was by far the women’s fights. Not only were they exciting, but it shut a lot of people up. Going into the season, the thought of women being in the house made the show look like The Real World, but at the end of the season, we saw that was far from what happened. The women made TUF fights exciting again, and we got to see a couple of all out brawls. Raquel Pennington and Jessamyn Duke put on the fight of the season, putting the cherry on top of a wonderful season for the women.
Worst: Men Not Fighting
One reason that the women’s fights were more exciting was the action and intensity they brought. The other reason they out-did the men? THEY ACTUALLY FOUGHT!!!! Out of six possible fights for the men, not including fights to get into the house, only two-thirds of the fights actually happened! While the women are crying about how much this opportunity means the world to them, two guys decide to goof off and not make weight. Unbelievable! Cody Bollinger and Anthony Guttierrez should be ashamed.
Best: Miesha Tate
Tate is the enemy. That is what a lot of fans, both of the UFC and Ronda Rousey, were inclined to see her as. Anyone who hated the women’s champion and fan favourite would presumably be cast as the villain, ready to steal the champs crown. Quite the opposite happened, and Miesha Tate came out looking better than ever at the end of the season when it came to her personality and coaching style. It wasn’t that her personality was over the top nice or that her coaching practices were perfect, it’s that she didn’t do anything wrong that would rub fans the wrong way, and conducted herself respectfully, to a point. For the most part, she just sat back and watched Ronda crash and burn.
Worst: Ronda Rousey
The two biggest storylines of the season were the ladies kicking ass, and Ronda Rousey losing respect from the fans due to her on-camera actions. From losing it on Miesha for celebrating her own fighter winning, to yelling at Bryan Caraway about tweets, to her personal vendetta to destroy Team Tate declared after every loss, to even the humorous line of a poking fun at unibrows being considered racist. Even Dana White had to step in at times to tell Ronda to cool her jets, and that this kind of bickering wasn’t going to gain herself any fans. The impact of these events were shown when Tate bested Rousey in the first round of EA Sports UFC video game cover vote. For Tate, who has had far less media coverage than Rousey, to beat her in a fan vote, shows that a lot of Rousey’s fans have turned on her. Rousey will get her chance though to silence haters at UFC 168, where she’ll look to repeat her last performance against Tate.
Best: Insight On Women Fighters
Yes, I know I’m giving a lot of credit to the women, but how could I not? When there is a big move on a show that changes almost the entire complexion after 17 seasons, it’s going to get a lot of attention. Having women in the house didn’t cause more drama and didn’t turn the reality competition into reality garbage. For the first time, we got to see the mindset and the preparation that women go through, as though this were Season 1 all over again, being introduced to a whole new side of fighters that we have never seen before. The house dynamic was also more positive, from the women treating each other like sisters, to even making the guys feel cared for before fights with encouraging words and messages.
Worst: Fighter Quality
Every year it seems like the quality of fighters brought in for TUF gets worse and worse. We have not seen a champion come out of TUF since the fourth season, and only one winner of TUF has challenged for a title since TUF 5. Although the women’s division is shallow and most of the women who participated on the show will be brought in to fill the division, these women who competed were either passing their prime, or had very few fights to begin with. Jessamyn Duke and Julianna Pena, who came out of the season as the top two women, have combined for nine professional MMA bouts in their careers. Although the men’s side has two talented up-and-comers fighting for the TUF crown, the rest of the men weren’t up to par with previous seasons, and if you think I’m wrong about that, well then consider that not a single man from this season other than the two in the finals will fight on the TUF Finale card. This season lacked long-term UFC talent, and that is a trend from TUF that the women might not be able to shake.