Humpday in MMA

Is “The Ultimate Fighter” losing significance?

This past Saturday’s “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir” live finale scored a 1.3 rating and averaged 1.9 million viewers.

The live finale, which concluded the eighth season of the UFC’s groundbreaking reality series, brought in the second-lowest rating in series history and trails only the 1.1 rating that season four’s live finale garnered. Seasons two, three and five scored the largest (2.0) finale ratings. The previous finale, season seven, drew a 1.4 rating.

It is normal for a show’s ratings to drop off and it’s hard to know what the UFC considers a success at this point. The Ultimate Fighter reality show is credited with fueling much of the success of the UFC currently enjoys and is the major pipeline for bringing in new fighters with immediate marketability.

The big question is: Can the UFC survive without the reality show or has it actually outgrown it?
The next season of The Ultimate Fighter will feature “US vs. UK” as the show looks to reverse the trend of falling ratings.

TUF Winners

Even after Efrain Escudero’s “improbable” win, it still appears that Junie Browning – who looked much improved in his submission win over Dave Kaplan – and Phillipe Nover – who failed to live up to the enormous expectations – are still getting all the attention even though Escudero bested them both.

All three should get at least one fight in the UFC’s stacked lightweight division but it will be interesting to see which fighter, if any, make a lasting impression in the UFC. Efrain is already making public who he would be interested in fighting. In an interview with Fight Network Radio Escudero says:

“As of right now, I don’t know what to think. I just became a new UFC fighter, so I don’t know what to expect or what to say. But if I had to pick an opponent within a year, I would say Roger Huerta. I think me and him would make a good match up, just because I’m a gamer. I go in there and I study guys. I stick to my game plan from one end to the other. When he fights, he’s ready to give war.”

Efrain will likely be groomed by the UFC, much like Huerta was, before he gets a fight with someone in the Top 10 of the division – but you have to like the guy’s confidence.

It will also be interesting to see what comes of the light heavyweight winner Ryan Bader – and the other LHW fighters likely to see time inside the octagon – Vinny Magalhaes, Krzysztof Soszynski, and Elliot Marshal. If there is a division even more stacked then lightweight it’s the light heavyweight division. It won’t be an easy road ahead for any of these fighters.

Mike Swick vs. Thiago Alves?

Mike Swick made quick work of his opponent Jonathan Goulet at “Fight for the Troops” last week. During a post fight interview Swick said he would like to fight Thiago Alves. While Goulet is no slouch he is no Alves.

Swick finds himself in a precarious position – he is either ranked fight or seventh in the welterweight division – depending on whether you have him ahead of or behind the Hughes-Serra twosome.

Its precarious because ranked ahead of him are teammates Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck. This creates a predicament for the division – will the UFC force the teammates to fight each other?
Given that, calling out Alves makes sense, but don’t look for it to happen – Thiago will wait to face the winner of GSP-Penn at UFC 94.

I would like to see Swick fight Anthony Johnson who won in impressive fashion over Anthony Burns at the TUF 8 finale. With the win Johnson sits right outside the division’s top 10. The fight would certainly create some fireworks.

Will Bobby Lashley fight in the UFC?

Following an impressive 41 second debut destruction of newcomer Josh Franklin, former WWE superstar Bobby Lashley called out newly crowned UFC heavyweight champion, Brock Lesnar. Following his fight, Lashley said:

“There is going to be a meeting between me and Brock. There will be. I am a wrestler, and Brock is a wrestler. If Lesnar wants to match skills, we match skills.”

Lashley has said he wants to sign with a major promotion early in 2009. This would clearly be an intriguing fight for the UFC and bring in more fans from the WWE.

Ultimate Fight Night 17 taking shape

Cain Velasquez has been added to the fight card which already includes the rematch between Amir Sadollah and Nick Catone. Velasquez’s opponent is to be announced. The event will take place in Tampa Bay, Florida – one week after UFC 94.

Cain Velasquez is apart of American Kickboxing Academy – the training camp that includes Jon Fitch and raised the ire of the UFC over that disputed licensing contract. It is good to see he is still with the UFC and will be back in action.

Tim Sylvia strikes again

In a recent interview with Sherdog, Tim Sylvia decided to call out Brock Lesnar.

“I think it’s wrong for the sport. I don’t think he’s got enough credibility yet. Obviously anything can happen in the sport, and he beat a great guy, but s–t, he’s only had four fights. I think it hurts the UFC’s credibility a little bit just because you have a WWE wrestling star who’s the heavyweight champ. He is a hell of an athlete. Obviously he does get better and better each fight. He’s doing the right things to become a better fighter.”

It is hard to take Tim Sylvia seriously after his recent interest in fighting Ken Shamrock – sounds like another fighter trying to stay relevant and in the news.

UFC signs fighters too

The UFC has recently been in the news for cutting fighters from their contracts. Well they also sign fighters, especially ones that put on exciting fights. They recently signed Clay Guida to a new four fight contract. They have also recently signed Roger Huerta, Tim Boetsch and Spencer Fisher to multi fight contracts.

Guida will take on Nate Diaz at UFC 94. Roger Huerta and Spencer Fisher have been rumored to fight each other at UFC 95. Tim Boetsch has not been rumored in any upcoming fights. It is worth noting that the UFC can get rid of a fighter at any point following a loss – so much for long term security.

UFC 92 – The year’s best fight card?

The end of year event is Saturday Dec. 27 – only ten days away – and should be a great show. Check back to next week’s edition of “MMA Humpday” for my preview and predictions.

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