10 Thoughts On … The Ultimate Fighter Season 15 (Urijah Faber vs. Dominick Cruz) Premiere

“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 has officially kicked off and now Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz are coaching eight fighters apiece battling for the right to become the next “Ultimate Fighter” winner. You can listen to our interview with both men on the last MMA 24.7 by clicking here.

As for now, though, you can read my Ten Thoughts on this season’s show below:

10. The casting appeal of this year’s group was outweighed by their fighting ability.

Much like season 14’s cast this year’s cast are really well rounded fighters. You can tell that there weren’t too many guys who got through based on their casting appeal and not their fighting ability; Zuffa is doing a good thing by focusing on the lighter weights because there’s a plethora of talent available in comparison.

9. The one round elimination fight gave everyone a sense of urgency.

I wondered how they would fit 16 fights on one show if it was two five minute rounds; one five minute round gave everyone an insane sense of urgency to finish the fight as soon as possible. There was a reason why there was a 50% finishing percentage in the first round.

8. Dakota Cochrane didn’t make it … but that’s not a bad thing

We were spared from his gay porn star past coming into the spectrum for 12 weeks; in an odd way it may have been the best thing for the guy. He got it out in the open, he gave interviews about it and now if he ever signs into the UFC or Bellator properly then it’ll be a non-issue. He won’t have three months of potential issues to deal with for it.

7. Forget the hype of some contestants; the man to beat is Cristiano Marcello

There’s a lot of great talent in this year’s cast, including a lot of good young prospects, but the thing that the show generally has proven is that many times experience trumps talent. Marcello tapped someone with a grappling pedigree in Jared Carlsten, an Eddie Bravo BJJ blackbelt, and was the trainer for some guys with first rate BJJ at the old Chute Boxe Academy team. There were a lot of impressive performances and great talent that advanced into the house but for my money Marcello has to be the odds-on favorite right now. It’s kind of shocking he would go through a television show to get into the UFC considering his pedigree but don’t be surprised if he wins.

6. Having Dana White, Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz mic’d up added something special

The one thing I’ve always hated about “The Ultimate Fighter” is that you don’t get any commentary in the fights or in the the preliminary fights to get into the house. Having the two principles and Dana wired, so we can hear what they’re saying, gave us an insight that’s rare. It’s one thing when it’s either Rogan/Goldberg or Anik/Florian giving us insight; hearing two first rate fighters and the most powerful man in MMA talk about a fight was kind of cool.

5. One round to earn your way in is something that should’ve happened years ago

One thing that’s always boring about the preliminary fights is that for all the finishes you get a handful of fighters willing to grind out a round or two to win. It’s good strategy but makes for boring television; winning is winning, of course, but it’s like the neutral zone trap. Having that one round gave everyone a sense or urgency unmatched in previous seasons. Guys were going hard for that takedown or for that knockout punch; it discouraged a lot of guys trying to do just enough and instead forced them to win beyond a shadow of a doubt. There were no bad decisions or guys getting up in the fight and coasting. I’m not against guys playing it safe, of course, but an exciting fight is better television I’ll concede.

4. The live format with the coaching staffs on either side was really showcased

Hearing both Urijah and Dominick’s coaching staffs on either side guiding the fighters mid-fight, including light heavyweight contender Phil Davis, was a good preview of how the season will go down.

3. The vignettes need to go

One of the things that gets annoying after a while is that every single feature on the fighters is nearly exactly the same. Some quick facts or an interview with Jon Anik might serve them better than “generic fighter pose,” “action sequence” and a voiceover.

2. The training gym is a much lesser setting than the empty arena fights of Season 14

The cool thing about season 14 was that it felt like making it into the house and the training facility was a privilege. It also gave the fights a neat aesthetic look that can’t be duplicated. I realize that they had a UFC show, proper, right before they filmed but it just looked so much better than the training center prelim fights.

1. Cruz and Faber have about a two week window of remaining cordial to each other

If you watched the “Ultimate Insider” show you could garner that Cruz and Faber genuinely dislike one another. This isn’t the sort of faux rivalry that GSP/ [anyone he’s faced not named Nick Diaz] manufactured hype or the type where the losing fighter will discuss how he talked trash to hype a fight and didn’t mean it. Urijah doesn’t like Dominick and vice versa; I give them about two weeks before the two have some sort of memorable blow up. They can’t be this cordial to one another like they were during the elimination fights.

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