Giving an established product a new look or a few new features can always play a hand in making that product seem like the newest thing on the market. Some people see right through this makeover, knowing that the changes only serve as a minor upgrade to a product that in reality needed a significant overhaul. Others view the changes in a positive light, going so far as to claim that the newer-looking versions of these commodities actually surpass their predecessors.

For a multitude of reasons, The Ultimate Fighter serves as a prime example of a product that, in recent years, has created such a reaction. Remember how awesome it felt to see the likes of Josh Koscheck, Bobby Southworth, Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, Diego Sanchez, Chris Leben and others when the show first debuted? People had the opportunity to witness a new breed of mixed martial artists compete for their chance at a UFC contract, but some time after The Ultimate Fighter 14, where Michael Bisping and Jason “Mayhem” Miller coached bantamweights and featherweights, interest began to fade somewhat.

The Ultimate Fighter Live struggled because while it did mark the first time that the tourney fights aired live instead of pre-taped, it aired in a time slot when only a handful of people opted to stay in during a weekend. The Ultimate Fighter 16, coached by Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson, attracted some of the worst ratings in the history of the series, and it became clear that the show needed a bit of an overhaul in terms of presentation. Seasons 17 and 18 brought a more documentary-like style to the show while still keeping all the drama that many simply come to expect from any TUF season.

Of course, it did not hurt the UFC that international seasons of the show caught on rather well with stateside fans. Whereas the MMA world felt that some of the more recent American-focused seasons relied solely on the drama in the house and not the quality of the fights or competitors, the two recent seasons of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil, as well as TUF Smashes, generated attention from fans who wanted to see aspiring mixed martial artists go for broke in their quest for the six-figure contract and the UFC roster spot.

This high level of expectation will likely continue with The Ultimate Fighter: Nations, the upcoming international season which will feature a Team Canada and a Team Australia and air in January 2014, prior to The Ultimate Fighter 19. Considering that the season will air on Fox Sports 1, many ratings-oriented fans of the sport will begin to wonder if this season will do worse ratings simply because the fighters are not American, or if the international nature of MMA propel this series to ratings equal to or better than past American-focused seasons.

Before addressing that question, and regardless of who tried out and who made it on to the show, we can say that having Kyle Noke and Patrick Cote as coaches can’t hurt. But don’t expect it to make a significant difference in the ratings. Again, it all goes back to the competitors and the way they perform on the show. If they put on some of the best fights in the history of the series, people will tune in for the upcoming season. After all, not every season needed to revolve around the coaches’ rivalry, especially in the case of this season, where no beef exists between the two countries at all.

If anything, this season makes for a simple friendly competition between two teams consisting of mixed martial artists from two different countries, neither of which views the other as an enemy or a rival. Besides that, the international nature of MMA propelled the past three international versions of the series to a high level of regard in the eyes of fans that, again, wanted competitive fights from people trying to make it to the sport’s premier organization.

At worst, the season will merely go down as better than some of the men’s outings from TUF 18, but given the who’s who of Canadian MMA standouts and the rising stars of the Australian circuit, everyone should go into this season expecting another international season where the majority of the cast leaves everything they own inside the cage once that Octagon door shuts.

Even still, some will perceive TUF Nations as just another season of The Ultimate Fighter with nothing more than a few new faces. But come 2014, a sea of hungry Canadians and gritty Australians may change the minds of some skeptics.

Photo: TUF Nations (Zuffa, LLC)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.