I realize that my title isn't fair as it's an unproduced product and isn't giving the incoming fighters the benefit of a doubt as to their professionalism and dedication. So, yes, I'm being slightly judgemental and I will have to live with myself and my punishment will be a shot of whiskey later this evening.
I can't say I'm thrilled with the mixed format of the next Ultimate Fighter season. I don't like reality shows in general, and I haven't watched TUF, regularly, since Season 12 (GSP v. Kos). I noticed the trend that the focus seemed to be more on the shenanigans in the house instead of the fighters prepping and training and I lost interest. It is entirely possible that I've missed something the last few years, but oh well. What I used to love about TUF is that it was something my whole family watched. My kids like MMA and it's because we watched TUF regularly. My wife's favorite fighters are TUF alums, because she is a casual fan and that's what she followed. As my interest waned, so did my kids, but the interst in MMA has remained and it's not uncommon for me and my girls to watch the fights together. I've made it a point as a father to make sure I expose my girls to women's sports. I always wanted them to know that there are women athletes and women athletes competing at the highest levels of competition so that they would be inspired to be involved in sports and physical activity. My oldest hates exercising and wants me to let her not do PE next school year, but at the same time wants me to take her to an MMA gym so she can kickbox. I credit her exposure to WMMA with wanting to do something physically active.
My problem with the upcoming format is that I can't help but think, because it's FOX, that they are wanting to cash in on the sexualization of female fighters. I don't begrudge Meisha Tate, or any female fighter, for posing in lingerie and doing sexy photo spreads; int he fight business, you gotta make your money where you can. I don't see anything wrong with female fighters using their good looks to get ahead and promote their career, although I tend to like the Sarah Kaufmann and Marloes Coenen types who are attractive women, but don't use that as a career promoter. That's just me, though. Overall, though, I think that the intent behind this upcoming season sends the wrong message about WMMA. The execs want drama, they want sex, they want drunken libidinous activities, and they want male and female fighters who are going to do that. But I don't. I want the best upcoming fighters in the world. I want to see the best up and coming female fighters get a chance to finally show the prime time TV audience that they are professionals and can fight. Mostly, I want to sit back with my kids and watch MMA with my kids and let them dream of being a great fighter like the one on TV. I don't want my kids to see another show that reinforces the notion that to be a successful woman you have to use your sexuality.
My initial impressions of the show are based solely on what the network and TV execs are doing. I'm really hoping that the female fighters will surprise us and rise above that intent. OTOH, who's to say that the execs won't pick a "crazy eyes" headcase with an outstanding body and overt sexuality just to get that drama? Even if we're lucky and all the women they pick are motivated, dedicated professionals who aren't interested in playing the reality show stereotype, what's the likelihood of the guys being professional and respectful?
In the end, I think the next season will have great ratings, but I also think it will be a piss poor example of professionalism in combat sports. I'm not into hyperbole so it isn't going to ruin MMA or WMMA or any of that garbage, but it's not going to help either.