Joe Silva, the UFC’s matchmaker, and his team set up shop at the Sheraton hotel in São Paulo this Wednesday the 14th to review over 300 Brazilian hopefuls to make it through the selection process determining the 32 fighters to comprise the cast for the inaugural season of the Brazilian version of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, set to air on Globo channel March 15 and be broadcast every Sunday.
The first episode will have the two teams fight between themselves to determine the 16 candidates to remain on the program. Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva will be the coaches. At the end of the season, the two coaches will face off, while the big winners among the rookies will be determined, paying out in 1.5 million reais and a UFC contract.
Among the unknowns and the fighters already familiar to fight fans, athletes from several states converged starting at 6 am. Ahead of them, interviews for the profile sorting process, contract signing and weight-ins, not to mention the practical part: demonstrating their proficiency in Thai boxing and Jiu-Jitsu.
“I haven’t had time to check out all the fighters, but from what Joe and the team tells me, it’s been marvelous. He’s really excited about what he’s been seeing,” said UFC president Dana White during his visit to the tryouts, adding, “Truth is, it’s no surprise to me, I’ve always known and said that Brazil is the greatest breeding ground for fighters.”
For the selection processes that follow, the team already narrowed the field down to 70 candidates. In the coming days, the selected fighters will undergo medical exams, drugs testing and a long interview process. With the results in hand, the show’s producers will meet with the UFC board of directors to pick the 32 fighters to kick off the program.
Heading into its 15 season in the United States, with Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber as coaches, The Ultimate Fighter is one of the longest running reality shows in the country, drawing millions of television viewers every week. Wholly owned by The Ultimate Fighting Championship, TUF features a number of competition MMA weight groups.
The program showcases professional MMA fighters living together in a house, and tracks them as they train and compete against each other for a UFC contract. Numerous UFC fighters have been contestants on the show, with some of them even going on to coach subsequent seasons themselves.