Ultimate Fighter Canada? Stay tuned

UFC president Dana White says a Canadian edition of The Ultimate Fighter television show is in the...

UFC president Dana White says a Canadian edition of The Ultimate Fighter television show is in the works. (QMI AGENCY)

NEIL SPRINGER, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:45 PM ET

It’s no secret The Ultimate Fighter has meant big business for the UFC since its inception in 2005.

The program not only helped to introduce casual fans to mixed martial arts, but also proved to be an effective educational tool for the sport. The season-one finale between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar is largely credited with kick-starting the popularity boom the UFC still enjoys today. And after 14 full seasons, TUF continues to develop new talent for the world’s largest MMA promotion.

This year marks the first time two separate versions of the popular reality show have run parallel to one another. TUF Live, coached by bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and rival Urijah Faber, features a brand-new format where the past week’s training sessions are recapped at the beginning of the show and the fights are shown live on FX Canada every Friday. TUF Brazil, helmed by middleweights Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva, utilizes the old, prerecorded formula and is streamed on TUF.tv Sundays at midnight (ET).

With the first international edition of the series up and running, UFC president Dana White said it won’t be long before Canada gets its very own TUF.

“We’re working on it; we’re close,” UFC president Dana White began on a recent conference call. “Let me see here, I’m going to go out on a limb and say we’ll have this thing done before the end of this year.”

White has long discussed his vision of a TUF World Cup, where winners from each country are pitted against each other. On top of the U.S., Brazil and Canada, White has expressed his desire to get the program running in countries like India, the United Kingdom and the Philippines.

But before those plans can materialize, the UFC still has a number of roadblocks to overcome with both TUF Live and TUF Brazil.

When the promotion opted to air TUF Brazil locally on Globo TV, rival network, R7 Network, leaked the results in retaliation.

“It was a dirty move,” White said. “It was a dirty move for them to come out and say these are the guys in the finale.

“When reporters or television networks do stuff like that, they hurt the athletes. You think Globo’s going anywhere because these guys came out and tried to foil the show? It doesn’t do anything to Globo. You think the UFC is going to fold up and shut down because they did that? No, but what they are hurting is the athletes.”

Though White couldn’t be happier with the new format for TUF Live, he admits anything and everything can happen on live television.

“We saw a cameraman fall down during filming,” White laughed. “If that was taped, that s--- would have been cut out. There are things you can’t handle, things you can’t do live that you would have done taped.

“That’s part of the fun. The reality is, every Friday night you get to go into that gym to watch these fights live.

“I’m really excited about the format.”

Of course, the format doesn’t just affect the TV presentation, it also has an impact on the fighters.

During previous seasons, teams could conceal injuries due to the program airing once filming had completed. So when Team Cruz member Mike Rio hurt his knee over a week ago, opposing coach Faber was able to find out about it by simply tuning in that Friday night.

The No. 1 bantamweight contender has since stated he won’t target Rio.

“Faber’s a good guy,” White said, “He really is a good guy. He’s really a stand-up, real guy. The fact that he says he won’t go after Rio’s knee just goes to show the type of person that he is.

“But believe me, there would be a lot of other coaches on the show who would go right after that knee.”

Perhaps the most significant change for the fighters is the amount of time they remain locked up in the house. All pre-recorded editions wrap up after only six weeks of filming, but TUF Live will last for a staggering 13 weeks.

Though cast members have everything they could possibly need to make the most of their time in the house, White admits it won’t be long before they all go stir crazy.

“Basically, there’s this list and you write down everything you need,” White said. “Then they get whatever they need or want, whether it’s food, rituals — everything is right at their fingertips. They live in this beautiful house, they train in this beautiful gym and they get the opportunity to fight in front of millions of people around the world every Friday night. I don’t know what else they need to be accommodated for, other than they’re going to start losing their minds in another two weeks.

“Normally in another week we’d be done with this show. They’re not even half-way done and there’s no music, no contact with the outside world, they can’t read anything and more importantly — what I always say should be No. 1 — no girls. They’re going to start losing their minds.”

MMA NOTES

Everybody loves a good Cinderella story — and MMA fans are no different. With Alistair Overeem possibly out of his May 26 title fight against heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos due to a failed drug test, a web movement has begun urging UFC president Dana White to consider the resurgent Mark Hunt as a replacement ... Michael Bisping opted to fight Tim Boetsch over Cung Le in the hopes that a win will secure him a middleweight title shot ... Cesar Gracie awarded Nate Diaz his Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt Thursday ... Toronto’s Sean Pierson will face Jake Hecht at UFC on FX 3 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. June 8.

 


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