I too would rather see a straight tournament of some sort. I was never a fan of all the "drama" and "reality tv" aspect of TUF.
I would like to see TUF shows start at the beginning of the selection process, not at the point of fighting to get into the house. Have a few weeks of showing guys at tryouts and doing interviews with the UFC.
Then have the UFC compile a list of around 32 fighters from which the UFC chooses 8 fighters and the fans choose the other 8 fighters. After those 16 fighters for a tournament are chosen, the UFC then chooses 2 fighters as injury replacements. Then TUF goes on a two week break from broadcasting episodes, tv shows have breaks all the time, while they film/produce the next part of the show.
Get rid of the team vs team aspect with opposing coaches. Instead, have all 18 fighters training for a week or two with ALL of the current TUF coaches selected. During the 1-2 week training period, have the fighters stay in 2 man military or dormitory type living quarters, complete with chaperones. A strict regimen, curfew and schedule during their training.
During this time, the fighters have no idea who they are going to fight or what the tournament schedule looks like. The last day of training and before the tournament, the UFC and the coaches on the show get together to fill out the tournament bracket.
Now you run the 16 man tournament over a few days. You can show two of the fights per broadcast. That plus the run-up to the tournament would be more than enough episodes for a season.
This would get me watching again, no matter the weight class involved.
That would be awesome!