The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) mixed martial arts reality series is often referred to as the single-most important development in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
When the first episode debuted on Spike TV on January 18, 2005, the promotion was in dire straits. It was already about $40 million in the hole and it had essentially bankrolled a show on television to gain critical traction and exposure.
It was a huge dice roll — if the show flopped it could have spelled the eventual end of the Zuffa-owned organization. Fortunately for them, and the millions of fans now scattered across the globe, it was a smash hit thanks in large part to the sensational three-round light heavyweight final brawl between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar.
Griffin ended up with his arm raised in the end, along with Diego Sanchez, who was the middleweight winner after totally dominating Kenny Florian. In hindsight, however, more was won that night than just two fights — the entire concept won over a legion of MMA fans literally overnight.LINK