The Ultimate Fighter China Arrives
   2013-07-11 16:45:36    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Liu Yuanhui

From Left to Right: Managing Director of UFC Asia, Mark Fischer; Deputy Chief Editor of Liaoning Radio Television, Zeng Shaowu; Vice President of Advertising and Brand Management for Sands China, Scott Messinger; and UFC fighter Zhang Tiequan. The Ultimate Fighting Championship held a press conference in Beijing, on July 11, 2013, to announce its multi-year partnership with Liaoning TV and the impending launch of The Ultimate Fighter China reality television show. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com/Stuart Wiggin] 

By Stuart Wiggin

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world's premier mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, has announced that it will launch the Chinese edition of its reality show "The Ultimate Fighter" this November.

The show will be co-produced by UFC and Liaoning Radio Television (LRTV) as part of a multi-year partnership and is scheduled to premiere on Liaoning Satellite TV, which will be available to more than 830 million viewers across China.

"The Ultimate Fighter" show sees 16 fighters train and compete against one another in a tournament format, with fights aired weekly. TUF China will be a 12-part series where some of the best Chinese mixed martial artists in the world will live, train and compete with each other to win a six-figure contract with the UFC. The live Finale of the series to determine the inaugural champion of "The Ultimate Fighter China" will be held at the Venetian Macao's Cotai Arena in March 2014.

At a press conference in Beijing on July 11, Mark Fischer, managing director of UFC Asia noted that, "Liaoning TV is an ideal partner for this endeavor given their national reach and the fact that Liaoning is such a hotbed for sports in China and already has the highest ratings for UFC TV programming of any province in China. This is an unprecedented and truly ground breaking program for any global sports league ever in China." He went on to add, "We believe that the Ultimate Fighter China show will be absolutely essential to develop and discover the next UFC champions from China in the years ahead."

Zeng Shaowu, Deputy Chief Editor of LRTV, noted that this was the first time in the station's history to import an American style reality TV product, which will utilize both LRTV and UFC production staff. Zeng also explained that TUF China, unlike editions in the US, Brazil and elsewhere will feature popular celebrities in the form of well-known Chinese kung-fu actors and performers, though Zeng made no mention of specific names.

With regards to the format of the show, Mark Fischer told CRI that, "The format will be very similar to all of our TUF shows to date," meaning that fighters will be divided into two teams and mentored by their separate coach. Fischer added, "There will be a bit more emphasis in the China version on the individual athletes involved; showing some of their stories and how they came here. And there will also be a bit more involvement by celebrities who are very interested or involved in martial arts."

Despite not formally announcing the names of the coaches who will mentor the show's contestants, Fischer strongly hinted that Zhang Tiequan, the first ever Chinese mixed marital artist to fight in the UFC, is likely to be named as one of the show's coaches. Zhang, who was also in attendance, stated that he was looking forward to being involved with the show and believed that he was ready and capable to coach a group of aspiring fighters.

In order to select the 16 competitors who will participate in the first ever TUF China, Mark Fischer explained, "We have tryouts starting on July 21 for all of the China, certainly from Northern China and many from around China to come. And we will have matchmakers there; we will have our scouts, our judges, to see who will be among the 16 fighters that will go into The Ultimate Fighter show this year in China. To make sure that this opportunity is also available to Chinese speaking fighters, ethnic Chinese from all over the world who speak Mandarin, we're also having tryouts on July 25 at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and in August at the Venetian Macao."

The registration process for "The Ultimate Fighter China" is available online at sports.sohu.com/tuf2013. To be eligible, candidates must be: male, aged 18-34, have professional mixed martial arts experience, speak Mandarin, be of Chinese descent and able to compete as a featherweight (145 pounds/66 kilograms), lightweight (155 pounds/70 kilograms) or welterweight (170 pounds/77 kilograms).   

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