What The Ultimate Fighter Means to the UFC

I recently saw a story on MMA Mania that Dana White wants to induct the entire cast of The Ultimate Fighter 1 into the UFC Hall of Fame. That’s a pretty bold statement and it got me thinking about what The Ultimate Fighter means to the UFC.

I can remember when my business partner in this venture (the illustrious Matt Greco) first took me under his wing and invited me to watch UFC 94 with him and his friends. It was the first time I was introduced to names like Jon Fitch, Nate Diaz (Stockton!), Jon Jones, Lyoto Machida, B.J. Penn, and of course Georges St-Pierre. These were uncharted waters for me and I was in over my head, but Matt and his friends took the time to explain all the nuances of MMA to me, and my fandom took root.

Fast forward to September 2010 when I began watching The Ultimate Fighter 12, which featured GSP and Josh Koscheck as coaches. I was hooked from the first episode. I loved the inside look as to what these fighters have to go through to achieve their goals. The behind-the-curtain view really brought the UFC into focus for me. Up until that point I had just watched the Pay-Per-View events, but TUF made the UFC and MMA seem like reality and a way of life for these guys. I was able to see that it’s not always the glitz and glamor of Joe Rogan and Bruce Buffer at the MGM Grand. TUF showed me that for most MMA fighters, life is a daily grind.

Bringing this thing full circle, Josh Koscheck was one of the contestants on TUF 1. Looking back on TUF season 1, those contests were instrumental in exposing the UFC to a much wider audience. Those fighters accomplished something special, and one only has to look at where the UFC is now, and all the talented fighters that subsequent seasons of TUF have produced. So, when Dana White says that all of the contestants from TUF 1 deserve to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, it’s hard for me to argue.

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