Fans of UFC’s Ultimate Fighter series may notice significant changes this season. Cable TV’s longest running non-scripted reality series will feature an all women cast.
That’s right, women!
Rebranded with a new show title, The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned, kicks off tonight at 10 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1 and will feature their inaugural women’s 115-pound strawweight division. The show will feature sixteen women grappling in the Invicta cage and competing in a single-elimination tournament.
With the show airing tonight, UFC is surely looking to find the next Ronda Rousey and folks on the reality show are excited that people keeping score at home will witness what transpired during their six week training. “It was the coolest thing ever,” Heather Jo Clark tells The Source.
“Going into it I didn’t expect it to be so difficult mentally, but its definitely very taxing. I thought at times that it was never going to end—it was like a space in time that was like the Twilight Zone. But I made some really cool friends with a couple of the girls and I’m really happy that I got to experience some of those moments.”
A lasting friendship that Clark developed on the show was with Tecia Torres. Of all the things Torres considered about the show, aside from winning, how she looks on camera is everything—well sort of. “I always hate watching myself on camera or in the ring,” joked Torres.
“I think I look so funny, but it was pretty cool.”
Carla Esparza, a strawweight and Jessica Penne, an atomweight are both former Invicta FC champions that are featured on the reality show. Additionally, this season features fighters born in the United States, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Tasmania, Iraq and Russia. Speaking of diversity, Angela “Overkill” Hill is the first African American woman to compete in UFC. “I keep forgetting to tell people that,” Hill told The Source.
“But it’s pretty exciting. I think getting people more interested in the sport makes people want to participate in the sport. When I was just getting into it, I would look up to people like Laila Ali and I would watch people like Miriam Nakamoto—a very successful muay thai fighter who’s competed in fifty to sixty fights and is undefeated. She’s a black woman.”
Source Photographer Anthony Geathers Trailed Angela “Overkill” Hill while training in New York City Check Out The Photogallery.
The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned show will feature UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and No.2–ranked Gilbert Melendez as coaches of the new season. Ironically the two will fight for the UFC lightweight title on Saturday, December 6 at UFC 181 in Las Vegas, Nevada. So what’s it like coaching an all-female cast of UFC fighters? “You’ve got to respect them as ladies still,” Melendez tells The Source. “My mom taught me how to treat ladies. But you’ve still got to respect them as athletes and fighters, so you’ve got to find that bridge.”
So suppose you know nothing about UFC. Why would you want to watch it? “People look at the sport and see fighting especially think it’s barbaric,” said Felice Herric.
“But it’s actually strong women that can really touch your heart. Anybody is going to be able to appreciate each person’s story and their journey and where they came from and realize that we’re just humans. I feel like people will be able to connect with a lot of the women in the show.”
Peep the Promo for the Show and grab popcorn and set your DVR’s for tonight’s first episode.