There figures to be plenty of back-and-forth drama between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate this fall, but “The Ultimate Fighter” is about, ultimately, the fighters on the show.
No matter how high her star power rises, Rousey tried to keep that fact at the forefront as she coached this 18th season of the UFC’s reality competition series.
“My approach was I wanted to care just as much as they did,” Rousey said. “It’s their entire lives on the line. It’s their physical well-being, their financial well-being, their mental well-being. It’s everything that’s important in life that they’re putting on the line. I really think you need to take it just as seriously and care just as much as they do because that’s what they deserve.”
This season, which debuts Wednesday night at 10 on Fox Sports 1, features female coaches and female fighters for the first time since the show’s inception in 2005.
Rousey and Tate will coach both male and female fighters on “TUF.” Rousey (10-0) will then defend her UFC women’s bantamweight title against Tate (14-4) at UFC 168 on Dec. 28 on pay-per-view. And since they already have a nasty rivalry, one filled with personal attacks and off-the-top-rope verbal elbows, expect that to be played up in the editing.
Not that Tate and Rousey don’t give those editors plenty of material to work with. Most of the trailers and clips released thus far – the show is recorded in advance – include some type of contentious interaction between the coaches.
“Horrible,” Tate said to describe the experience of coaching against Rousey. “Straight up terrible.”
As the season airs over the next three months, you’ll learn more about the fighters, which means more to the longevity of the world’s most powerful mixed martial arts promotion. You rarely hear a fighter introduced by Bruce Buffer as an “Ultimate Fighter” coach, right? But those who win the show carry it on the resume throughout their careers.
“Realistically, we are all fighters,” said Tate, who became a coach on the show after Cat Zingano injured her knee and wouldn’t be able to fight Rousey in December. “I don’t consider myself a coach. So I just tried to help them and really relied a lot on my coaching staff – the people that help me and coach me.”
The show lasts about six weeks in real time but is edited into a three-month long series. An MMA fighter must win four bouts in that short time span just to get to final.
“It’s not a very good environment for them to be trying to develop new techniques,” Rousey said. “You’re competing all throughout that month. You have to use what you came with.
“You don’t have time to build these fighters,” Rousey added. “You just have to find a way to help them perform to the best of their ability.”