Pop quiz: Who won the last season of The Ultimate Fighter?

The majority of MMA fans were probably able to answer Michael Chiesa with little difficulty.

Next question: Who are the two fighters that recently won the premiere season of TUF: Brazil?

If you answered Rony “Jason” and Cezar Mutante without looking it up, you’re likely in the very small minority of fans that actually watched the entire season of TUF Brazil on Fuel TV this summer.

Over the course of the last seven years, The Ultimate Fighter has been a major staple of the UFC’s programming, and it seems a bit odd that fans would have trouble naming the winners of the latest edition of the reality show.

However, due to circumstances completely out of the control of fans, the UFC made the inaugural season of TUF Brazil about as irrelevant as possible within U.S. borders, and there was little reason for fans to even consider watching the show when it aired on Fuel every Sunday night.

By the time the final episode of the reality show aired, the finals had already taken place at UFC 147 in June, and the drama of seeing which fighters would make their way into the finals was long gone.

This makes absolutely no sense.

As much fun as it is to watch 16 grown men get sloppy drunk and argue while having to live in the same house, The Ultimate Fighter is a show about fighting.

We’ve heard UFC President Dana White make this claim over and over again, so why did the UFC make the fights on TUF Brazil completely irrelevant?

To be fair, TUF Brazil was the first international season of TUF the UFC had ever produced, and perhaps it was impossible for the promotion to get a deal finalized in a reasonable amount of time before the finals had to happen.

If the upcoming seasons of TUF: Smashes and TUF: India don’t air on Fuel at the same time they do in their respective countries, that’s an entirely different story.

The finals of the UK vs. Australia (Smashes) season are set to conclude on Dec. 14, and unless the UFC makes a quick announcement regarding the show’s status on Fuel, we’ll likely end up watching the finals having never seen any of the competitors fight outside of UFC.com.

This is a serious mistake, not just for fans located in the United States, but for the fighters involved as well.

One of the key ways that fans have been able to connect with fighters since the UFC hit the big time on Spike TV has been through the reality show, and as the show has given us huge stars like Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans, there’s no denying that fans seem to gravitate towards fighters they’ve gotten to know through reality television.

Throw in the fact that it’s hard to make people care about the finals of a show they were never able to watch on television, and it seems ridiculous that the UFC would even consider throwing the TUF: Smashes fighters on TV at all, let alone let them main card a free fight night on FX.

As much as fans love free fights, they need to have a reason to watch them, and throwing a handful of guys they’ve never heard of on television is a good way to watch your ratings decline, something that is a very real possibility for the UFC on FX 6 card if Zuffa doesn’t find a way to feature these fighters before the card airs.

Fuel TV needs the international seasons of TUF to gain viewers, the fans want to see the fights when they’re relevant, and the fighters deserve the exposure to the American audiences they’ll be fighting in front of for the majority of their UFC careers.

It makes too much sense for Zuffa to find a way to air these non-U.S. TUF seasons on Fuel in real time, and if they don’t solve the problem soon, it will be one of the few mistakes made by an organization that is usually in tune with its fan base.

Photo: Michael Chiesa finishes Justin Lawrence (Al Powers/Zuffa, LLC)

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.