Not only can MMA fans look forward to the return of Bellator tonight, and a pretty sweet card that will feature “King Mo” Lawal taking on Seth Petruzelli, the promotion’s “Fight Master: Bellator MMA” show will air on SPIKE afterwards. As you likely know by now, due to the big stir it caused when it was announced, one of the show’s coaches is none other than UFC legend Randy Couture. So, by putting Couture in the mix, it’s clear Viacom and Bellator are hoping to make some waves in the MMA reality show market.
Fight Master will feature 32 welterweight fighters, who will attempt to work their way through the competition to win $100,000 and a spot in a Bellator tournament. Only 16 fighters will advance from the qualifying round to participate in the official competition. Where the show differs from “The Ultimate Fighter” significantly, however, is that the fighters get to choose their coach, rather than vice versa. They also get to choose their next opponent. Apparently the format reminds some people of “The Voice” reality show. I’ll have to take their word on that.
The show will be hosted by Bellator commentator Jimmy Smith and takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Unlike TUF, Fight Master will feature four coaches, as in addition to Couture, fighters will be able to chose from Frank Shamrock, Greg Jackson and Joe Warren.
Couture should need no introduction, as the renowned fighter won multiple heavyweight and light-heavyweight championships with the UFC, and is widely regarded to be one of the sport’s greatest fighters ever.
Jackson is one of MMA’s most revered coaches, as the trainer has been a driving force in the careers of men like Rashad Evans, Carlos Condit, Nate Marquardt, Jon Dodson and Georges St. Pierre, among others.
Shamrock may not be as familiar a name to new MMA fans, but the retired fighter is also a legend in the sport. The well rounded fighter held the UFC middleweight championship during an era when MMA was dramatically different (that division was later retitled light-heavyweight), and Shamrock also won titles with Pancrase, WEC and Strikeforce during his storied career.
Warren is one of the most decorated grapplers to ever transition into MMA, and the former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler has already added a Bellator Featherweight Championship to his resume. At 36, Warren is the youngest of the three coaches and is only the one who is still fighting.
While mainstream fans might not recognize too many names off the bat, there are several well travelled vets set to compete in Fight Master. The most recognizable is likely Joe “Diesel” Riggs, who has fought over 50 times and scored wins over men like Nick Diaz and Chris Lytle during his run with the UFC. Heading into the show Riggs has won five straight.
Other fighters that fans might recognize in the premiere episode include Bellator vets Chris Lozano and Dom O’Grady, former M-1 competitors Tom Gallicchio and Jason Norwood, Legacy Fighting Championship vet Artenas Young, and Strikeforce vet Mike Bronzoulis.
Another welterweight who could provide some explosive and jaw dropping moments is Marcus “Lelo” Aurelio, who is a Capoeira based fighter out of Vancouver, Canada. Meaning, Fight Master could also feature some head kick stoppages of a Uriah Hall variety.
Tonight’s episode is scheduled to air at 10:00PM / 9:00 PM CST, and the first season is expected to wind up on September 7th.