Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture on Spike TV

By: Phoenix Delray

In 1983, The Nashville Network (TNN) was born. The network evolved in 2003 into a male oriented programming force known as Spike TV. On that network, the idea was to draw in men, and the programs the network chose to feature were designed to do just that. Shows included World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) matches and other guy shows.

After the WWE left Spike in 2005, one of the programs that debuted in its place was a reality series called The Ultimate Fighter. In this first season of the show, which ran from January through April of 2005, men would compete to try to win the grand prize, an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contract. The show featured mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting, with two weight classes chosen and the groups competing to decide who from their team they wanted to pit against someone within the same weight class from the other group.

The two teams that went up against one another for the first season of the show included Team Liddell, which was coached by Chuck Liddell, and Team Couture, which was coached by Randy Couture. On the show, contestants lived together under one roof and then fought one on one to determine the winner. Viewers also got to see the preparations that fighters made for their matches, as well as commentary throughout the process, as is similar on most reality television shows. At the end of the season, the final two fighters remaining are made to do battle against one another to determine the ultimate champion for that season.

The matches that take place during the season are considered exhibition matches for the fighters, so that those who did not win matches during the series are able to continue to compete without losses counting against them, and also so that the outcomes of the matches remained a secret during the run of the series.

Chuck Liddell proved to be a very successful coach for his team, because both of the ultimate winners for the premiere season of The Ultimate Fighter, Forrest Griffin and Diego Sanchez, had been on Team Liddell at the start of the season. Both of these winners have gone on to earn contracts and found success with the UFC.

The show is still on the air, and an eighth season is planned that will feature light heavyweight and lightweight fighters, pitting Team (Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira against Team (Frank) Mir.

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