Another 28 faces get a shot Tuesday night, but only half of them will become a name to know. For how long and in what context depends on the content of the already-filmed footage as it airs on FX over the course of the next three months.
Welcome to “The Ultimate Fighter,” a UFC reality competition that in 2005 helped launch the mixed martial arts promotion from the fringe of the sporting landscape to somewhere closer to the mainstream. Season 17 includes as its coaches the UFC’s brightest young star, Jon Jones, and its most loquacious challenger, Chael Sonnen.
Each season has its own unique characteristics – and characters. Some can be appealing, some can turn people off, be it the television audience or the fighters in the house for six weeks with no contact with the outside world.
Season 14 bantamweight winner John Dodson, 28, called it the "best vacation of my life." Besides coming home to Albuquerque with the prizes from his victory, he also picked up a life lesson or two.
“The thing I learned from the whole experience is how quickly people will turn on you,” Dodson told Newsday. “While we were on that show, they were just so quick to point fingers and what was wrong and who did this and who did that. They were quick to blame everybody else but themselves.”
Dodson (15-5, 3-0 UFC) spoke in general terms. He was neither accusatory nor regretful. Instead, Dodson gave an honest answer to a simple question about his time on the show.
Dodson has a chance this Saturday to become the fourth “TUF” season winner to call himself a UFC champion when he challenges Demetrious Johnson for the flyweight title at UFC on Fox 6 in Chicago. Matt Serra, Rashad Evans and Forrest Griffin each won the show and a UFC title.
The 5-foot-3 Dodson said he saw a lot of plotting and scheming as fighters tried to orchestrate certain matchups in their favor. Dodson didn’t want to be that guy.
“Being that dude who’s sitting there trying to figure out ‘Oh I gotta set this up so I can get this fight, and I have to set this up so I get this one so I can make it to the finale,’?” Dodson said. “My mindset, I was already going to the final no matter who I was fighting, so I wanted to sit there and relax and chill and talk to people, meet new people and have fun instead of trying to predict my way through, playing this little video game that everybody was doing.”