Muscle Sport Magazine

The Immortal of TUF 1

Courtesy of Web Solvent

It has been 20 years of the the ultimate fighter, and according to Betway, the odds will forever be in your favour to strike gold alongside one of the contestants.


Any TUF season in this year would have marked the 20-year anniversary of the highest rated original series on FS1, and one of the highest paying books on sites like Betway, the focus will be on the history of the game-changing show and how it put professional fighting and the UFC back on the map. It was back in 2005, at a time when the UFC was not yet the juggernaut it is today, and boxing was really the only household-recognised fight sport entertainment, that an upstart Dana White decided to structure the way the UFC got its talent, while giving the world an extra glimpse of what value there is in professional fighting. This was a full year before number-crunching houses like Betway existed, but surely the books were going off the charts. Randy Couture and Chuck Lidell were two of the biggest names in a budding UFC, and they had the perfect storyline for red hot drama, friends who became enemies and set on paths that would soon be crossed. Before their fight, however, the two stars would be the first ever coaches of TUF, spearheading what became arguably the best fight in UFC history, Griffin vs. Bonnar.


The House that Griffin vs. Bonnar built


Lidell and Couture are UFC legends in their own rights and the UFC is what it is today, partly thanks to the foundations they laid in the early days of the organisation. However, Griffin vs. Bonnar was a horse of a different kind, not only putting the fans of professional fighting on notice, but also drawing the rasp attention of first-time enthusiasts with the energy and nonstop action of the bout. Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar were light heavyweights and the fight was co-main event alongside the headliner of Franklin vs. Shamrock. What was meant to be a teaser for a then-mouthwatering Ken Shamrock fight, turned out to be THE diamond in the rough. Lasting for a full three rounds, Bonnar and Griffin went at each other relentlessly for 15 minutes of pure adrenaline, edge-of-your-seat martial arts. In the end, the true winner was not Griffin, but rather the UFC. The rush was a new high for fans, pundits, and first timers alike, one they are still to come down from, seeing the success and growth of the UFC. It might not be fair to those two fighters but the fight is largely remembered, especially as a symbol for what it meant to the UFC, more than what it was to the fighters themselves. Both Bonnar and Griffin went on to have Hall of Fame careers, deservedly so, but it is the UFC that is still banking from those immortal three rounds that are reminiscent to Babe Ruth and the Yankees of the 1920s in terms of greatness, legacy, and influence. If the Yankees stadium was the house that Ruth built, then the UFC is largely the house that Griffin vs. Bonnar built.


The Legacy of TUF 1


It would be a full year before Betway would come into existence, and Facebook was barely even part of social consciousness, but Griffin and Bonnar impressed themselves so deep on the American sports consciousness, so much so that the UFC is today a billion-dollar organisation that can afford a private island to stage fights while their fanbase faithfully watches on. The TUF 1 finale was the UFC’s first-ever live TV event, and both the Fertitta brothers and Dana White, did not know what to expect outside their usual pay-per-view formats. The company was losing money and TUF was an all-in move that paid its dividends and then some. On the strength of the fight, Forrest Griffin earned a six-figure contract and went on to be a force in the UFC, while Stephan Bonnar also got a contract, and did not need to fight as a good à fight ever again in his career, his reputation preceded him. TUF 1 paved the way for so many of the UFC’s future champions like Michael Bisping and TJ Dillishaw. By going on to be a success and produce greatness, TUF 1 set a tone and standard for every other fighter and season since then, an aura that is necessary to maintain a certain level of quality.


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