It’s been eight weeks now since the premiere of ‘the Ultimate Fighter’ season 20, which features an all-female cast of fighters. Six of the first eight rounds of fights have taken place and currently 10 fighters remain alive in the tournament to crown the first ever UFC Strawweight (115lbs.) women’s champion. So on this Halloween Friday the question is, has it been trick or treat for us as fans so far with this fighting MMA eye candy we have been witnessing?
Personally I have to say that it’s been a surprising treat so far. As a hardcore who has been watching ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ AKA TUF since season one, I think I speak for others when I say the show was getting stale. They have tried to spice things up a bit by trying different things, but to date none of them had worked. Even their attempts at going live with the fights at the end did not spark much interest and the failed experiment of 12 weeks in the house versus six just made things worse, not better.
Of course we had a precursor of having women on the show, when they brought in Ronda Rousey and Meisha Tate as coaches before their epic second fight, along with having bantamweight (135 lbs.) women fighters share the stage with men. At first I figured it would have been better to have saved Rousey and Tate as coaches for this all-female cast; however I now see that using them as an experiment was actually a good move. Besides I think the all-female cast of fighters seem to have taken to having male coaches.
As far as the show itself thus far, there are certain people and incidents that definitely have stood out. Carla Esparza, Randa Markos and Jessica Penne have definitely showed their abilities as fighters, while Felice Herrig has stood out for that and then some with her good looks and care free attitude.
One thing that has taken me aback is the flack that Tecia Torres has received for getting back into the tournament after her first round loss in the first week. I definitely don’t want to sound chauvinistic as I write this, but I can’t help but wonder if men would have reacted in this manner. Now before female readers go blasting me, please note that this is not the first time a fighter who has previously lost in the tournament has been given a second chance.
Yet, in this instance Torres, who had no say in the matter other than to accept an offer given to her directly from Dana White, UFC President himself, has all but been shunned by the cast; more specifically her team. That said, her team is now actually Team Anthony Pettis when she was formerly with Team Gilbert Melendez; however, she had no say in that matter either, that was once again Dana’s choice.
When it comes to this type of scenario and cliquish attitude, I am always reminded of former TUF alum George Sotiropoulos when he was in the house. He was chastised by his teammates for not awakening them up one morning when it was time to go train. His response quite simply was, “I’m not here to baby-sit anyone and this is not a team sport.”
He was absolutely right on both counts, especially the team aspect. When all is said and done, only one woman will become champion in this thing. Besides, with Team Pettis fighters currently sweeping Team Melendez through six fights, it’s inevitable that supposed “teammates” are going to fight each other anyway; so enough with the so called loyalty among teammates.
On a positive note, the fights have been good, the cast themselves have been interesting in one way or another and I think the UFC will have a great commodity in bringing this division and these women into the UFC for years to come. The only question now is, whether the dominance of Team Pettis is any indication of the fight to come between lightweight (155 lbs.) champion Anthony Pettis and number one contender Gilbert Melendez? Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait to see if that fight ends up being a trick or treat?