With the UFC welcoming women to ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ five suggestions to make it work

Maggie Hendricks

As was announced on Saturday night, the next version of "The Ultimate Fighter" will be coached by UFC women's bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey and the winner of Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate's April bout.The show will feature hopefuls for the UFC's men's and women's bantamweight division, meaning men and women will live together and train together for the six weeks the show tapes.

Though it's a first for the UFC, it's not for reality television. From "The Biggest Loser" to "Survivor," men and women live together during reality show taping. But since this is the UFC's first foray into coed programming, here are a few suggestions for the UFC to rise above the usual reality show muck.

Don't rely on tired gender stereotypes. Picture it. A group of female fighters walk into the kitchen, and the men have left it a mess. "Ugh, those guys are so gross!" When the men walk in to the women's complaining, they tell the women to clean it up. Aaaand, scene.

Please, UFC, don't push this kind of "drama" in the house. There will be more than enough real drama in a house full of fighters clawing their way to the UFC without relying on the junk fit for "Two and a Half Men." Instead, show how fighters don't fit into neat, little boxes.

Take an honest look at how male and female fighters support each other. Something striking about mixed martial artists is how they support and cheer each other on, regardless of gender. Every Friday and Saturday night, my Twitter feed is filled with fighters talking about their teammates' bout on the regional or local circuit. Taking a closer look at that dynamic would not only be interesting, but would show how the MMA community works.

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Don't manufacture a romance. With men and women living together, it's possible that some chemistry will happen between a few of the fighters. If it does, let it happen. Don't arrange a sunset picnic for two fighters who happened to smile at each other, because yes, that does happen in reality show world. If it doesn't happen, that's OK, too.

Give a real look at how Rousey interacts with her opponent and her team: With so much coverage for UFC 157, it seems like we have learned everything we could possibly know about Rousey. But as Chael Sonnen has proven on the current season of TUF, seeing how a fighter coaches and works with his opponent can give a more revealing look than a million talking head interviews.

And for the fans who haven't yet, give female fighters a chance. After women fighting for years in Strikeforce and Bellator, and after Rousey and Liz Carmouche put on an intense fight at UFC 157, you would think all MMA fans would be awake to the strength of female fighters. But Facebook and Twitter comments show there are still some who don't believe women can fight. Hopefully, watching women put in the hours training and fighting every week will convert the remaining few.

Do you plan on tuning in? Speak up on Facebook, on Twitter or in the comments.

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