FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Chuck Liddell
was in South Florida last week for Super Bowl festivities, but he sounded eager to get back to Las Vegas, where he's currently taping Season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter
Liddell, who was also a coach for the show's first season, said he's particularly excited about the current crop of fighters because they remind him of that first year: They're more interested in the mixed martial arts aspect of the show than in the reality TV aspect of the show.
"We've got some good guys like usual, but this season there are some that I just know are going to be really
good," said Liddell, who isn't permitted to go into detail about the fighters on the show before the episodes air. "The thing that reminds me of that first season is we've got so many guys who you can see that they've got what it takes."
Liddell said that when he looks back on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, he wonders what he and the others who worked on it were thinking with some of the silly stunts that sometimes were placed at the forefront of the show -- at the expense of MMA, which is what the sport is supposed to be all about.
"What's so much different is that the first season, we really didn't even know what we were doing," Liddell said. "We had those stupid challenge things and we did so many stunts because that's what we thought reality TV was supposed to be about."
But Liddell said that despite the somewhat rough production from Season 1, he still looks back fondly on the fighters he coached.
"The guys themselves were great -- I knew right away that guys like Forrest (Griffin), Stephan Bonnar, Mike Swick, Josh Koscheck, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, Alex Karalexis, those guys were all going to be real fighters," Liddell said. "Those guys just wanted to fight and the guys we have this season just want to fight."
Liddell said he thinks the focus will be on fighting in Season 11, and that's a good thing.
"I think we have some guys like that this year," Liddell said. "I know some years you have guys who look like they're just going into it to stir things up and become TV stars but that's not what this year's guys are about. This year the guys want to be fighters. No one is in it thinking, 'I just want to be on TV.'"