The Ultimate Fighting Championship® has confirmed it will film an Australian edition of its hit reality television series, The Ultimate Fighter® (‘TUF’), giving Aussie and British mixed martial artists the opportunity to secure a lucrative contract with the world’s preeminent mixed martial arts (MMA) organization.
Registration is now open to all aspiring UFC fighters from Australia and the UK. Prospective competitors should visit http://au.ufc.com/TUFForm (Aus) or http://uk.ufc.com/TUFForm (UK) for registration forms, rules and qualification criteria. The live tryouts, scheduled for June 12 in Sydney and June 15 in London, will be open to fighters ranging in weight from 61kg to 77kg. Participants must be between 21 and 35 years of age and have had at least three verified professional fights (having won two).
The Australian series, dubbed The Smashes™ – a play on the 130 year-old cricket rivalry, will see undiscovered professional MMA fighters from Australia and the United Kingdom live together in The Ultimate Fighter House in Australia and compete against each other for a prized UFC contract. This is only the second time in TUF’s seven-year history that teams will represent their country of origin, the first taking place in 2009, during the ninth series, as Team USA took on Team UK.
“Australia and the UK have a fierce, long-standing rivalry, and where better to settle the score than in the UFC’s Octagon™,” said Marshall Zelaznik, UFC’s Managing Director of International Development. “The popularity of MMA has exploded in Australia and the UK, with gyms opening all over the respective countries. There is an athlete in one of those gyms who hasn’t had the chance to show the world what he can do – The Ultimate Fighter is going give to him that opportunity. We’re going to discover the UFC’s future stars, you can bet on it.”
The Smashes marks the second international edition of The Ultimate Fighter franchise. The first, currently airing in Brazil, brought in record viewership numbers, recording 12 million viewers for the Premiere episode and attesting to the successful global expansion of the series. With its continued worldwide success, the UFC hopes to one day host several tournaments in different countries, crowning one unanimous winner across an international format.
The series, The Ultimate Fighter, which debuted in 2005, is the longest running and most successful sports reality shows in the United States, and has been a springboard for some of the UFC’s most renowned fighters. Two of Australia’s best UFC talents, George Sotiropoulos and Kyle Noke, broke into the UFC via The Ultimate Fighter. Geelong’s George Sotiropoulos was featured in Season 6, eventually making the semifinals, while Dubbo’s Kyle Noke made it through to the quarterfinals in season 11.
Two of Britain’s finest athletes also entered the UFC by winning The Ultimate Fighter. Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping, one of the UFC’s best and most recognized fighters, won Season 3 in 2006 under the training of UFC legend Tito Ortiz. Ross ‘The Real Deal’ Pearson then followed by winning Season 9 in 2009, when the United States met a team from the United Kingdom. His coach was none other than fellow countryman, Bisping, who built a 6-1 record during his first stint as a mentor. Bisping once again took on a role as coach in season 14, joining an elite group of fighters to make three appearances on the series.
The show exploded the UFC’s popularity amongst American audiences. The first season, featuring UFC original legends Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture as coaches, included famed UFC names such as Forrest Griffin (light heavyweight winner), Josh Koscheck, Stephan Bonnar and Kenny Florian. The first finale, which took place on April 9, 2005, featured the iconic three-round battle between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin, and is remembered as one of the most important and famous bouts in UFC history.