Let's face it, if you are a true MMA fan you are probably already watching The Ultimate Fighter. If that's the case then this isn't for you; this is for those people who might be just finding their way into the scene, and I want to be the tour guide.
For those of you who don't know, The Ultimate Fighter (affectionately called TUF) first aired in January 2005 and quickly became an MMA staple. The program pits up-and-coming fighters against each other, with weekly fights narrowing down to a finale featuring the last two remaining athletes. The winner of that bout was originally awarded a UFC contract, but the prize has changed throughout the years and now multiple fighters can move on to the UFC (at UFC President Dana White's discretion) and a cash prize is awarded to the final victor.
So many of the fighters you may have heard of today started in or coached on TUF. If you are watching it now, you are a witness to the future of the sport. So many important moments in MMA have happened on the show.
For example, one of my favorite fights of all time was the Season 1 finale where Forrest Griffin faced Stephan Bonnar for the coveted UFC contract. The fight ended up being so amazing that White gave both athletes a contract.
Another memorable moment from TUF was when Uriah Hall knocked out his opponent with a nasty spinning back fist. The KO was so severe that the fighter's health was in question. The dramatic moment came in Season 17, and he ended up being OK. White called this moment, "One of the nastiest knockouts I've ever seen in the fight business, let alone on The Ultimate Fighter."
Watch that moment below (Warning may be graphic to some):
Bottom line is when you are watching TUF you are watching what may be the beginning of a fighter's career, and potentially witnessing the next Conor Mcgregor or Ronda Rousey being born. Who doesn't want to say, "I remember when" about anything?
So much MMA street cred right there.
What do Michael Bisping, Kenny Florian, Josh Koscheck, Nate Diaz and Rashad Evans all have in common? They all got their starts on TUF.
The current season is half women and half men, with standout athletes on both sides. Even Khalil Rountree who was eliminated early in the season is having UFC contract rumors buzzing.
The women seem to be taking over this season with standout moments from both Jodie Esquibel and Jamie Moyle.
Each episode travels through the training and fight process including precious behind-the-scenes moments that few fans ever get to see. You can connect with your favorites as they explore the athletes' personal lives and reasons for fighting.
The fights you see on TUF are some of the most wild, exciting and daring you will ever see. These men and woman are fighting for their chance and will not hold anything back, and who doesn't want to see that?
One of the staples of the TUF format is the "celebrity" coaches. Each season pits two current UFC fighters against each other, training their group of newbies. You get a chance to view their coaching and training styles plus witness some of the drama leading up to the season finale when the two coaches often face each other in the Octagon.
This season we see bitter rivals Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha spitting insults left and right, building up their meeting on the season finale where Jedrzejczyk will be defending her strawweight title and Gadelha will be doing her best to take it.
The season may already be underway, but there is plenty of time to catch up and see some amazing fights.
The Ultimate Fighter airs Wednesday's at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.