White: ‘TUF’ Going International; Philippines Likely up First

By Sherdog.com Staff Feb 15, 2011
Dana White (file photo) discussed expansion plans for "The Ultimate Fighter" franchise Tuesday | Sherdog.com

As the 13th season of its long-running reality show is being filmed in Las Vegas, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is making plans to take “The Ultimate Fighter” international -- and sooner than one might think.

“‘The Ultimate Fighter’ is gonna start airing in every country,” UFC President Dana White said during a Tuesday media conference call to promote UFC 127. “We’re gonna start doing ‘Ultimate Fighter UK,’ ‘The Ultimate Fighter Canada,’ ‘The Ultimate Fighter Philippines.’ We’re doing it everywhere.”

While no broadcast details were disclosed, White readily offered his thoughts on where and when the international editions of “TUF” could begin.

“This year,” White said. “I’m pretty sure the first one’s probably gonna be the Philippines.”

UFC brass has long discussed bringing an event to the Philippines, even sending stars Brandon Vera and Chuck Liddell to the country on promotional tours in recent years. In September 2008, Liddell’s open workout at the SM Mall of Asia in Bay City was swamped by more than 4,000 fans and media members. However, plans for a Filipino show were cast aside in light of recent global financial troubles.

White cited not only the sport’s growing popularity, but the rapidly-deepening pool of untapped talent, as the reason behind the “TUF” expansion.

“What’s happening is, as this sport becomes more popular in all these different countries now, there’s a lot more talent coming up. Believe me, there’s a lot of guys out there that are coming up,” said White. “We’re doing nothing but cultivating new talent.”

The Spike TV-broadcast “Ultimate Fighter” has been a talent mill for the promotion since its beginning in January 2005, churning out future champions and contenders like Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans and Diego Sanchez. All 13 seasons to date have been set in Las Vegas, though many international fighters have taken part in the competition. The show’s ninth season featured an all-American team (coached by former U.S. Olympian Dan Henderson) competing against an all-British team (coached by season three winner Michael Bisping), with Englishmen Ross Pearson and James Wilks emerging as the tournament champions.
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