The Ultimate Fighting Championship's expansion of its biggest sub-brand will continue this fall.
The promotion on Thursday night announced an international edition of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series for this fall. UFC president Dana White tweeted news of the series, and an official release from the UFC followed.
"The Ultimate Fighter: Australia vs. U.K. – The Smashes" will film later this year, likely in late summer for a fall airing. The series will pit fighters from Australia against fighters from the United Kingdom. "The Smashes" in the title, according to the UFC, is "a play on the 130-year-old cricket rivalry" between Australia and the U.K.
The last international edition of TUF was Season 9 of the original U.S.-based series, which featured fighters from the United States against fighters from the United Kingdom. That season was coached by Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping, one of the most successful UFC fighters to come out of the TUF program – he won Season 3 of the show. The UFC also currently has "The Ultimate Fighter Brazil," which taped earlier this spring and is airing in that country, as well as on TUF.tv on Sunday nights.
Just like with the U.S. version of the reality show, as well as the one in Brazil, the winner or winners will receive a contract with the UFC. Past winners have included future UFC champions like Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans, as well as title contenders and stars like Bisping, Nate Diaz and Ryan Bader. Other alums of the groundbreaking show, which aired in the U.S. for seven years and 14 seasons on Spike TV, and now airs in a new live format Friday nights on FX, include Stephan Bonnar, Josh Koscheck, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, Chris Leben, Joe Lauzon, Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione.
"Australia and the U.K. have a fierce, long-standing rivalry, and where better to settle the score than in the UFC's Octagon?" said Marshall Zelaznik, the UFC's managing director of international development. "The popularity of MMA has exploded in Australia and the U.K., 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."
Coaches for the series have not yet been named, nor has an exact broadcast plan been announced.
Prospective fighters from bantamweight to welterweight – 61-77 kilograms – should visit special sites set up for registration forms, rules and criteria for qualification. Tryouts are planned for June 12 in Sydney, Australia, and June 15 in London. For fighters from Australia, visit au.ufc.com/TUFForm; for fighters in the U.K, visit uk.ufc.com/TUFForm.