The Ultimate Fighter has been a stalwart of the UFC in the United States. It was once the savior of the promotion and has found its way through 15 seasons.
This year, the UFC finally launched its first international flavor of the reality series, although it wasn’t in the country that most had initially expected.
Most signs over the past couple of years had pointed to Canada as a likely candidate for TUF’s first expansion, but the company instead launched it in Brazil.
The show has been massively successful, drawing a reported 12 million viewers in Brazil, according to UFC president Dana White. The finals of the series were held at UFC 147: Silva vs. Franklin II on Saturday night in Belo Horizonte.
With the first international edition now under its belt, the UFC is looking to take TUF across the globe. The next international offering is already in progress with several more on tap.
“This is our first international series of The Ultimate Fighter,” said UFC managing director of international development Marshall Zelaznik. “We've got Australia vs. the U.K. coming up.”
TUF: Australia vs. the UK, dubbed The Smashes, has already gone through fighter tryouts and is headed into production for a likely fall run.
But the UFC isn’t stopping there.
“We could potentially have five Ultimate Fighter international versions next year in production,” added Zelaznik. “I think when we see more international Ultimate Fighters is when you'll probably see something like a World Cup come about.”
The “World Cup” format he mentioned is a reference to having Ultimate Fighter winners from around the globe square off in a sort of Ultimate Ultimate Fighter tournament.
Zelaznik didn’t detail which five locals might get an international edition of TUF next year, but the company has already confirmed a return to Brazil, Australia could possibly see a second run if this year’s edition goes well, and Canada, of course, has to be a top consideration.
There are still several other possibilities to fill the remaining slots. White has often mentioned the Philippines, China, and Mexico as possibilities, and his standard “we’re going everywhere” leaves the options wide open.
Just where TUF will land next year remains to be seen, but it’s obvious that it is going to be a key piece in the UFC’s arsenal as the company spreads its brand of MMA across the globe.