The Ultimate Fighter show has been criticized in many circles (even by me, in this piece) as having grown a bit stale.
Yes, it can get a little grating watching strangers in a house arguing over leftover asparagus and the like. Yes, it’s been 20+ seasons, counting the excursions to Brazil, China, and more.
But, it’s also an opportunity to see some up-and-coming talent. There are new markets emerging in MMA, and a show like TUF can still be a good format to showcase them. Plus, it offers what can be a fun opportunity to get up close — and personal — with two established MMA stars acting as coaches.
Tonight, at midnight EST / 9 pm PST, the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America will begin, with coaches Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum. The show leads up to the eventual bout between Velasquez and Werdum, which will headline the UFC’s first event in Mexico November 15.
Why be interested?
Hey, it’s the UFC Heavyweight champion, for starters . The proud Mexican-American Velasquez will coach a team of fighters from Mexico, which is often described as fast-growing MMA hotbed — but we just haven’t seen much yet. It will be interesting to see the level of talent and training he ends up working with.
His opponent, the Brazilian Werdum, may seem like an odd choice to captain the Latin American side — which is made up of fighters from Columbia, Ecuador, Argentina, and other Spanish speaking countries of the Americas. But Werdum, who spent much of his youth in Spain, is actually fluent in Spanish. He’s the more experienced trainer of the two — in fact, many of us were introduced to Werdum years ago as Mirko Cro Cop’s jiu-jitsu trainer. He maintains an academy in California today.
As a fighter, Werdum has enjoyed a career resurgence with four straight victories, including an upset over Travis Browne back in April.
In a video preview of the show, Dana White boasted: “I believe that Latin American has had the greatest fighters in the history of the world… it’s undeniable that Latin Americans love fighting.”
The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America kicks off tonight at midnight ESP/9 pm PST on UFC Fight Pass.