The revamped version of The Ultimate Fighter will be making its’ debut this coming Wednesday, April 22nd on Fox Sports 1.
In response to the stagnant format that finally came to a head in season 19, UFC President Dana White decided to explore other options to give the show a new light. He had time because of the unique format of season 20 which saw sixteen strawweight woman walk into the TUF house and Carla Esparza come out as champion.
After some brain storming, the new format became a camp versus camp format that isn’t a completely new concept. It was decided to pit rising prospects from different gyms against each other for the title of The Ultimate Fighter.
This new format not only changes the format but also gives an already established team the opportunity to continue working together for a team victory. At the same time the format of a tournament is still kept intact.
For this season the perfect two camps were selected in the Florida based American Top Team and Jaco Hybrid Training Center (Blackzilians) lead in this season by Dan Lambert and Glenn Robinson respectively.
The story also allows for a legitimate rivalry to take place as there is a history between the two gyms. In 2011, a group of fighters from American Top Team left the gym and with the help of their manager Robinson, formed what would later be called the Blackzilians.
For this reason the two gyms have had a bitter rivalry which has extended into competition in several mainstream MMA promotions. The competition isn’t without some big names in both the coaching and competition aspects of the season.
Some bigger name fighters from American Top Team include Steve Carl and Nathan Coy. Both men have competed in Bellator, but Carl also established himself as the first WSOF Welterweight Champion, whereas Coy was also a veteran of Strikeforce and Maximum Fighting Championships where he also won their welterweight championship.
Notable names from the Blackzilians include the likes of Luiz Firmino and Andrews Nakahara. Firmino, being one of the older competitors this season actually competed in the late Pride FC as well as other promotions such as M-1, Shooto, Dream, WSOF and CFA where he won the lightweight championship. Nakahara is also a veteran of Dream as well as Road FC.
Coaches on the show this season will include the likes of Robbie Lawler for American Top Team while Blackzilian assistant coaches will include Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort.
The show will climax in the season finale at a to-be-determined venue in Florida on July 12th where the season’s welterweight finals will take place.