The UFC today confirmed that season 24 of 'The Ultimate Fighter' will consist of 16 flyweight competitors battling their way through The Ultimate Fighter house for a chance to earn a UFC contract, only this year the stakes are much, much higher.
In a move not seen since season 4, The Ultimate Fighter winner will also be awarded an immediate title shot. The man currently holding the belt is the utterly dominant Demetrious 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson, and although he must fight Henry Cejudo at UFC 197, he is the heavy favorite for that fight and will be expected to be the pot of gold at the end of the TUF season 24 rainbow.
While last time this happened, in season 4, eventual winner Matt Serra went on to shock the world by defeating Georges St-Pierre in his title fight, anyone who has watched the majority of TUF seasons will tell you that the level of talent back then is quite different to what it is now.
The UFC flyweight division is undeniably thin. That doesn't mean it's not entertaining, and Mighty Mouse doesn't get enough love for how dominant he is in that weight class, but with Neil Seery admitting that he believes he got offered his upcoming fight with #6 ranked Kyoji Horiguchi because nobody else was willing to take it, it suggests that the UFC are trying something drastic to shake-up the division.
And it's needed, because Demetrious has beaten everyone worthy of a shot since he became champ:
This entire idea seems like an attempt to build up the profile of Mighty Mouse, as it is essentially a search to find someone capable of beating him. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing.
It seems strange, for sure, but at least the UFC are trying something to spark interest in the flyweight division. Also, were the eventual winner to go and defeat the champion (it is still possible that it could be Cejudo at that point, you can't rule it out) then we would have a truly great underdog story to make a movie out of.
It's a win-win for the UFC, and it will surely generate more interest in The Ultimate Fighter in the process.