The UFC's highly anticipated live series debut of popular reality competition "The Ultimate Fighter" takes place March 9 at a new home on the FX cable network, and on Monday the promotion announced its new cast.
A total of 32 lightweight fighters will compete in 16 bouts for a chance to win their way into the TUF house in a live season premiere episode that will run for two and a half hours. Those fights will cut the field down to 16 fighters, who will then compete for the next 12 weeks in episodes that will be a combination of taped highlights from the week leading up to the new show followed by a live elimination fight.
The coaches for the inaugural season of "The Ultimate Fighter Live" are UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and top contender Urijah Faber. The two coaches will fight again for the bantamweight title on the UFC 148 pay-per-view July 7 in Las Vegas. But the TUF lightweight title will be contested on June 1 in a live finale event.
The previous 14 seasons of "The Ultimate Fighter" were taped over six weeks in Las Vegas, then edited and aired later on Spike TV. But the new live format forces the season into 13 weeks. The UFC on Monday also announced that FX will air another 13-week season in the summer. Under the UFC's seven-year deal with Fox, FX will air two seasons of TUF each year.
“We’re producing ground-breaking television with 'The Ultimate Fighter Live' and we can’t wait to kick this season off with FX," UFC president Dana White said in an official statement. "It’s going to be can’t-miss TV. Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber are two amazing guys who also happen to be two of the best fighters in the world. They genuinely dislike each other and I expect this to make for the best season yet.”
“We believe that Dana, (UFC CEO) Lorenzo Fertitta and (executive producer) Craig Piligian have come up with exciting new changes to the format of 'The Ultimate Fighter Live' that will expand and grow the series,” said Chuck Saftler, executive vice president of FX Networks. “The fact that the fight at the end of every episode will now be televised live is certain to create a sense of urgency for UFC fans and will make the series even more compelling.”
The cast of 32 fighters is below:
Akbarh Arreloa, Chula Vista, Calif.
Al Iaquinta, Wantagh, N.Y.
Ali Maclean, Belfast, North Ireland
Andy Ogle, Tynemouth, England
Austin Lyons, Cordova, Tenn.
Brendan Weafer, New York, N.Y.
Chris Tickle, Bloomington, Ill.
Cody Pfister, Amarillo, Texas
Cristiano Marcello, Curitiba, Brazil
Chase Hackett, Littleton, Colo.
Chris Saunders, Long Beach, Calif.
Dakota Cochrane, Omaha, Neb.
Daron Cruickshank, Wayne, Mich.
Drew Dober, Omaha, Neb.
Erin Beach, San Diego, Calif.
James Krause, Blue Springs, MO
James Vick, Fort Worth, Texas
Jared Carlsten, Los Angeles, Calif.
Jeff Smith, Mechanicsburg, Penn.
Jeremy Larsen, Phoenix, Ariz.
Joe Proctor, Pembroke, Mass.
John Cofer, Hull, Ga.
Johnavan Vistante, Pearl City, Hawaii
Jon Tuck, Hagtna, Guam
Jordan Rinaldi, Matthews, N.C.
Justin Lawrence, Villa Ridge, Mo.
Mark Glover, Liverpool, England
Michael Chiesa, Spokane Valley, Wash.
Myles Jury, San Diego, Calif.
Mike Rio, Miami, Fla.
Sam Sicilia, Spokane Valley, Wash.
Vinc Pichel, Sherman Oaks, Calif.