When Shana Dobson got the call to compete on season 26 of “The Ultimate Fighter”, she only had three professional fights on her record but she had confidence that she was ready for the UFC.
After spending six weeks in a house, away from her friends, family and coaches, Dobson learned just what it took to not only make it to the UFC but to compete with the best fighters in the world.
Just recently, UFC president Dana White teased the return of the long-running reality show while stating that he believed “The Ultimate Fighter” was still the best proving ground for up and coming fighters in mixed martial arts.
Following her own journey through the show, Dobson agrees with White because “The Ultimate Fighter” is what truly prepared her for life in the UFC.
“I like “The Ultimate Fighter”. I think “The Ultimate Fighter” is an excellent way for fighters to get in there and see what it’s like,” Dobson said when speaking to MMA Fighting ahead of her return at UFC 241 this weekend. “You face certain adversities in “The Ultimate Fighter” house that can prepare you for fighting in the UFC, for fighting at a higher level.
“You’re sleeping next door to your opponent. You’re sleeping on the top bunk next to your opponent. It’s high pressure stakes. You’re getting that exposure. You’re getting to train with high level coaches and high level fighters as well. I think it really did prepare me.”
While every fighter comes onto the show with different levels of experience, Dobson believes the reality series gave her the tools to deal with the bright lights and immense pressure that comes along with fighting in the UFC.
“I feel like I would be crazy nervous if I didn’t have the exposure of “The Ultimate Fighter” initially and I was just thrown into the Octagon,” Dobson explained. “I already know what it’s like to have those cameras in your face and the bright lights being in the Octagon. I already had that experience on “The Ultimate Fighter”.
“During my debut in Vegas on the finale, I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be or what people would think.”
“The Ultimate Fighter” is often viewed as the tool that helped save the UFC after former owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta were in the hole for around $40 million and ready to pull the plug until the reality show launched. The popularity of the series helped push the UFC into profitable margins and the Fertitta brothers eventually sold the promotion to a conglomerate led by Endeavor for just over $4 billion in 2016.
Of course, “The Ultimate Fighter” doesn’t pull the same ratings as it did during the first 10 seasons where numerous champions such as Michael Bisping, Rashad Evans and Forrest Griffin were produced but the show still manages to pull enough viewers to make it a worthwhile endeavor for the UFC .
White has been adamant about relaunching the series in the near future and Dobson agrees with him that “The Ultimate Fighter” really is a tremendous breeding ground for young, talented fighters seeking to join the UFC roster.
“I’m down with “The Ultimate Fighter”,” Dobson said. “I think it’s cool and it gives fans the opportunity to see what it’s like, the build up and what it’s like on the back end for fighters.
“Other sports should have those types of opportunities for athletes to get a crash course for what’s coming.”