Earlier this year, the UFC ordered a ban on sponsorships involving guns, ammo, knives and hunting. For many casual viewers, this probably flew under the radar, but the more diehard followers of the sport were probably left wondering why the Las Vegas-based Gun Store stopped its long time partnership with many UFC fighters.

So while Americans still have the right to bear arms, that is no longer true inside the Octagon.

With the ban in place, many have scrutinized the choice to have the coaches’ challenge, which aired last week, for this season of The Ultimate Fighter feature weapons including guns and grenade launchers. Was it hypocritical of the UFC and its brass, just three months after they issued the ban, to involve these very weapons on their programming?

At first thought, the answer is yes. If fighters are no longer allowed to represent their long-time sponsors such as the aforementioned Gun Store and Ammo To Go amongst others, then the UFC should not be promoting the use of guns on its show.

Upon deeper review, there was nothing wrong with the challenge.

First of all, the challenge wasn’t straight gun shooting, there were four components to an eight-event obstacle course that involved guns and a grenade launcher. Coaches Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz also had to overcome events such as a rope climb, carrying dummies and flipping tractor tires. Therefore, while the weapons made the challenge what it was and provided explosive excitement, it wasn’t solely a showcase of weaponry.

Also, the event was monitored by the United States Marines, with a Marine at every station monitoring both coaches. UFC President Dana White mentioned early on that the marksman’s course was one similar to what the Marines actually use to prepare for battle.

The promotion has a long standing relationship with all branches of the United States Armed Forces, hosting Fight for the Troops events, participating in the Wounded Warrior project and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. More specifically, the Marines have been a long-time sponsor of The Ultimate Fighter.

It would be crazy to deny that the use of weapons exists in the world. While other countries have significantly more strict rules on civilians owning guns—some outright prohibiting it—the majority of the show’s viewership resides in the United States, where owning a gun can be considered common place.

When the target demographic of the show is 18- to 35-year-old males, it’d be even more absurd to assume that these men don’t hunt, frequent gun ranges or, at the very least, aren’t excited by the thought of watching things blow up.

Banning sponsors that promote the use of weapons doesn’t mean that weapons don’t exist. It is better to acknowledge the use of guns in the target demographic and showcase them being used in a proper manner, under close supervision, than it is to outright deny their existence.

While the UFC has struggled with ratings for this season of TUF, it can’t be denied that attention has been brought to the season by way of the coaches’ challenge—one many feel was the best in the show’s history. Whether one agrees with the choice of challenges or not, it can’t be denied that in a battle for publicity and ratings, any attention is better than no attention at all.

Photo: UFC President Dana White holds a grenade launcher prior to the TUF Live coaches’ challenge (SB Nation)

About The Author

Paige Berger

Relatively new to the sport of MMA, Paige is a life long athlete. She attended the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, N.Y., where she was a pioneer member of the women's ice hockey program. She also excelled in softball and soccer before deciding to focus on hockey. Born and raised in New York, she is an avid Yankees fan. Currently residing in Las Vegas, a move she made after falling in love with MMA while training at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., she is currently studying public relations and advertising at UNLV.