The Ultimate Fighter - Why Nerds Should (and do!) Watch the Latest Season

Whenever I suggest someone watch an mixed-martial arts fight (in this case, women's MMA), I start by asking nerd questions: Do you like Chun-Li? Do you like Black Canary? Black Widow? Wouldn't you like to see awesome women do that in real life?

It's that last question that can usually divide the fans from the "thanks, I'll pass" group. AWhile almost everyone loves cartoon violence, seeing real punches and real blood can understandably make people think twice. Fortunately, there are far more reasons to appreciate the women and men of the popular reality competition TV series The Ultimate Fighter: Team Joanna vs. Team Claudia.

A martial arts reality show? Is this real? What would I be getting into here?

It's real. Full-contact martial arts competition has been around forever, but typically narrowed to specific categories: boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, judo, etc. Mixed-martial arts enables competitors to use whatever fight styles they're proficient in, resulting in a whole new approach to martial arts excellence famously pioneered by Bruce Lee.

The Ultimate Fighter is a televised competition for new and on-the-rise fight talent to train with championship-level UFC fighters and compete for the chance to earn a fight contract with the UFC. Like many reality shows, the competitors live together in a house, are drafted into two training teams, and fight in an elimination-style tournament until one of them is crowned the Ultimate Fighter.

Think America's Next Top Model but with flying knees and spinning back kicks. The house is co-ed, sometimes there are minor shenanigans (even team pranks!) but in the end, everyone is there to work.

I don't really like sports, so would I like this?

As a kid growing up, I was bored by sports. I appreciate athleticism but the rules in most games felt arbitrary and there's always that jock vs. nerds dichotomy that made me hesitate. The rules and the stakes in a fight, on the other hand, are relatively clear — and I've come to believe that many mixed martial-artists are huge nerds themselves.

Angie "Overkill" Hill, previously on TUF and fighting now in the all-women Invicta Fighting Championship (founded by two women, Janet Martin and Shannon Knapp), maintains a Twitch stream, does Street Fighter cosplay at weigh-ins, and tweets anime references.

Another otaku previously on TUF, Roxanne Modafferi is a fighter in Invicta FC who is also an author, Mortal Kombat cosplayer, Star Wars Rebels fan, Marvel fan, and all-around animated fandom geek.

This season introduces a new group of fighters, whose personal lives, struggles, and nerditude are yet to be seen...

The Team Coaches

The Ultimate Fighter: Team Joanna vs. Team Claudia is shaping up to be an explosive show. The team coaches have a rivalry as Claudia has only one loss on her record, a razor-thin split decision loss to Joanna, the competing coach and the current Women's Strawweight Champion. Joanna is currently regarded as the best pound-for-pound female fighter in the world, a distinction Claudia believes should be attributed to herself.

When these two aren't sparring verbally, they're going to be training sixteen female fighters from throughout the world, as well as men (who will fight in their own separate weight class).

The UFC Women's Strawweight Champion, Joanna Kedrzejczyk
The new season premieres on Wednesday, April 20. Tune in for the fireworks, stay for fastest-growing and fascinating entry into the cultural zeitgeist.

Adrian Martinez is a graphic designer, comic book letterer, hobbyist writer, and all-around geek living in New York City.