TUF Finalist Mike Ricci Critical of Recycled Ultimate Fighter Format

December 13, 2012
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You might have to reach all the way back to the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter to find somebody who “enjoyed” being stuck in the TUF house as much or more than season 16’s Mike Ricci.

In season 6, eventual show winner Mac Danzig was often called “grumpy” or “unhappy” because of his demeanor in and around the house, and just a general displeasure of being forced to stay there for six weeks while the filming took place.

This year Canadian Mike Ricci may have surpassed Danzig’s level of discomfort living in the house as long as he did because looking back on the experience, while he’s elated to make it to the finals and get the chance to earn a UFC contract, living in the TUF house was just as big an exercise of will power.

“The hardest part of course is disappearing off the face of the earth. Being away from your family and friends, and wondering what’s happening outside. Is everyone okay? Is someone sick? You never know, that was the hardest part for me,” Ricci told MMAWeekly Radio.

By the time the show ended, Ricci had reached maximum levels of stir crazy being stuck there with 15 roommates he had no choice but to live alongside in a house.

Looking back on the experience, Ricci isn’t sure why The Ultimate Fighter doesn’t allow the fighters to interact more with the outside world. It would surely interject new life into the reality show, and obviously open up all new possibilities for things that could happen inside and outside the house.

“It doesn’t make sense to me. I understand not having a phone so you can’t notify anybody what’s going on, but the fact of being let out of the house, and being allowed to go into Vegas would add to the ratings right?” Ricci asked.

“If you were to let the fighters out into Vegas it would be like TUF mixed with Jersey Shore. You’d have things happening outside the house, people bringing people back to the house, the dynamic would completely change and there would be way more action. So I don’t understand why they don’t do that.”

Ricci points out that the format and standard for The Ultimate Fighter is pretty simple – there are a lot of good fights, which is positive, but there’s training footage, somebody plays a prank that gets out of hand, and a couple of fighters snap. The problem is at this stage of the game in season 16 of the show, it’s pretty predictable to guess what happens next.

“For now that’s the format they chose. But at the same time everyone knows when you tune into The Ultimate Fighter you’re going to see some guys fighting, you’re going to see some good fights, and then you’re going to a couple guys lose their minds. It gets kind of old, like how many times do you want to see a couple guys lose their minds?” said Ricci.

The ratings for The Ultimate Fighter have stayed well below one million viewers throughout the 16th season of the show, some of the lowest in the history of the program. Now part of that issue is the timing of the show’s airtime, currently broadcasting at 10pm on Friday nights.

But the stale format can’t be ignored, and Ricci understands why maybe less people are tuning in.

“I guess there’s no secret why the ratings are going down, that’s just the way it is,” said Ricci. “People were super crazy about The Ultimate Fighter, and now it seems to be the same thing over and over again. But hey look, I’m not an FX producer or anything like that. I just went there to do my job, which I did do, that’s just my opinion.”

The job is almost done for Ricci, who will take on fellow cast member Colton Smith this Saturday for the chance to become the latest fighter to win The Ultimate Fighter. The opportunity will provide him a chance to take home a UFC contract so it’s all been worth it, but there is no way he would ever go through it again.

“It’s not for me,” Ricci said about living on The Ultimate Fighter. “It’s definitely not for me.”

Stay tuned to MMAWeekly.com for all the latest TUF 16 Finale news and fight coverage.

  • CW

    I think the easiest explanation for TUF’s declining ratings is the fact that now there are so many opportunities for fans to watch MMA on free TV. TUF was a novelty when it started and it was some of the only free product available. Now there are UFC’s available at least once a month. TUF is a big reason for this increase in televised fights, but it is now suffering from its own success in popularizing the UFC.

    • Stan

      I know it was slipping on Spike but another reason for a big drop on FX is likely that Friday is one of the worst nights for their big demo

    • sdelfin

      Yep. I got interested in TUF to see fights on TV which led me to buy pay per views which were months apart. Now there are so many PPVs and events on cable that TUF is obsolete in its current form.

  • john Heisenberg

    Mike needs to quit complaining. I don’t recall anyone forcing the big star ( lol) mike ricci to join the tuf show.
    It will survive. All show have ratings fluctuations and especially reality types. But when its all said and done, for being such a bad show it still outperforms most in its time slot and still dwarfs the main events for bellator and all the other free mma fights. So while the numbers aren’t mind boggling compared to prime time shows on the big three network’s, tuf still beats the hell out of all the main event fights for junior league organizations. And tuf is filled with guys with no name and just trying to make it. While dana isn’t thrilled, its still ratings gold for TV executives with promise to do better once they find the best day and time.
    Its hilarious how mma weekly ” plays up” the 120,000 mtv bellator has which is like no body even knows its on. Compared to the ” poor” ratings of tuf between 500,000 to 600,000 on fuel TV. Last time I checked MTV is 5 times bigger than fuel TV. So while MTV viewers turn off the channel when bellator comes on, fuel TV has viewers actually tuning in to see tuf. All mma organizations would kill for those numbers and new viewers finding a channel as small as fuel TV just to watch such a unwatchable show. Sheesh grow up

    • El Gvapo

      Not sure Ricci is complaining about anything to be honest. Just seems like a fairly sensible assessment of the current TUF format, quite brave considering he’s a part of this season and yet to earn his place in the UFC. He’s completely correct too. Personally I enjoy the TUF show for what it is, I don’t care to see it “improved” in any way. I look forward to the fights, trying to predict who will win from the start etc, hell I even enjoy some of the bullshit in between and I can’t really see how it can be improved upon.

    • jozseffrd

      WTF are you talking about he wasn’t complaining He actually stated the Facts!TUF Sucks it’s the same every “season”(5 months)I don’t even watch it live I wait a week than go online and fast forward it to the fights!It’s being the same ******* thing since season 3 They got 2 drunken assholes,the young guy who talks how tough he is than get beat up his first house fight.the guy who used to be an alcoholic or a junky,the Marine,one or two foreigner and the one everyone hates!The pranks are the same And Dana saying the same ******* thing word by word.”I don’t ******* believe it it’s only 2 rounds they supposed to go a fight like crazy **** but what they do let the judges decide!NEVER Leave it in the Judges hands!”Yes Dana we knowww!!!Oh and by the way Ricci is a way bigger Star than you are and he actually came up with a pretty good idea!!!

  • mmadman

    For the most part, I agree with him. I used to watch the entire show. Now, I just want to see the fights and maybe a little about the fighters. Everything else is pretty much the same exact thing we have all seen before. The format needs some change.