A talented international field of 32 confident, dedicated and determined fighters has been set for THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE on FX that begins on Friday, March 9, with a special two-and-a-half-hour LIVE premiere airing at 9 PM ET/8 PM CT, and tape-delayed on the Pacific and Mountain time zones at 9 PM PT/10 PM MT.
The list of finalists was trimmed from more than 500 prospective entrants from around the world. Those seeking to cash in on the opportunity of a lifetime include fighters in the lightweight (155 pounds) division from the United States, England, Northern Ireland and Brazil.
The inaugural season of THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE on FX will run for 13 consecutive weeks, featuring live fights every episode, and culminate with a championship fight on June 1, in a three-hour finale. Following the eagerly anticipated premiere on its new home, the series will remain on Fridays but move to 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) for 12 weeks. (Telecasts of TUF Live will air live nationally on DirecTV ch. 248 and DISH-Channel ch. 136.)
As part of The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s landmark deal with FOX Sports Media Group, FX will also televise a second 13-week season of THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE this summer. There will be two 13-week seasons of THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE on FX annually for the next seven years. The eventual winner of each season receives a six-figure contract from the UFC.
The 13 weeks of taping are more than twice as long as previous TUF seasons (six). Unlike past editions when each season was taped months in advance of its broadcast, new episodes with live fights will now air each week.
There will be 16 live fights on March 9. The competitors are:
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, Mich.
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.
The previously announced coaches for the two teams will be current UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and former WEC featherweight champion and current top contender, Urijah Faber. Cruz and Faber are no strangers to each other. The popular UFC superstars and rivals have split two previous fights and will clash for a third time at UFC 148 on July 7 in Las Vegas.
Following the live fights during the series premiere episode, or “Fight In,” the field will be halved. The 16 survivors will then be broken up into two teams of eight. Each team will train with each other and reside in a house together in Las Vegas for the duration of the season. One fighter from each team will be selected by their coach to fight at the end of each weekly installment on FX for the right to advance in the competition and, ultimately, perhaps, be crowned THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE Champion and earn the life-changing contract with the UFC.
Said UFC President Dana White, “We’re producing ground-breaking television with THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE and we can’t wait to kick this season off with FX. 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 Chairman) 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, 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.”
Many of today’s most recognizable names in Mixed Martial Arts have emerged from the series’ previous incarnation, The Ultimate Fighter, including, among many others, Rashad Evans, Kenny Florian, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar.
So who will be the first champion on THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE on FX?