SETTING THE STAGE FOR THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER
The 24th season of The Ultimate Fighter debuts tonight, and while the men may be small, the stakes are high.
The latest installment of the long-running franchise that helped put UFC on the map back in 2005 features 16 flyweight competitors, some with UFC experience, and all current champions in smaller promotions. The winner of the tournament will receive a championship fight with Demetrious Johnson at the live finale on Dec. 3.
Coaching the fighters will be past opponents of Johnson – Henry Cejudo, and Joseph Benavidez. Cejudo and Benavidez will also square off at the finale.
The cast is as follows along with their age, record and any other notes:
•Adam Antolin, 34 (11-3, Fought for Strikeforce in 2008)
•Damacio Page, 33 (19-10, Fought in WEC and UFC from 2008-2012, going 3-5 during that run; lost to Demetrious Johnson by submission at WEC 52)
•Kai Kara-France, 23 (12-5, from Auckland, New Zealand)
•Ronaldo Candido, 27 (6-0, all six wins by submission)
•Alexandre Pantoja, 26 (16-2, most recent win was over Damacio Page in May 2015)
•Eric Shelton, 25 (10-2, caged Aggression Champion)
•Matt Rizzo, 30 (9-2, Ring of Combat Champion)
•Terrence Mitchell, 26 (11-2, all 11 wins by stoppage)
•Brandon Moreno, 22 (11-3, undefeated since July 2012)
•Hiromasa Ogikubo, 29 (15-3, last loss in 2013 to UFC contender Kyojo Horiguchi)
•Matt Schnell, 26 (9-2, legacy Fighting Championships Champion)
•Tim Elliot, 29 (13-6, 2-4 in UFC from 2012-2015, has a win over Jens Pulver)
•Charlie Alaniz, 30 (8-1, Hex Fight Series (Australia) Champion)
•Jaime Alvarez, 28 (6-1, Absolute Fighting Championship Champion)
•Nkazimulo Zulu, 27 (7-2, EFC (Africa) Champion)
•Yoni Sherbatov, 27 (5-0-1, undefeated, 4 finishes)
The Ultimate Fighter airs tonight at 10 on FS1 with a two hour premiere episode.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: This is a very diverse cast. Being a champion coming into the show doesn’t mean much because the level of competition in some of these promotions as well as the experience of each fighter varies greatly. With that said, some early favourites might include Tim Elliot, who has the most UFC experience of the bunch, has fought on the big stage, and has looked good in Titan FC since being cut by UFC. Damacio Page is very experienced but is aging and has a lot of losses, so it may be a little late for him. Ronaldo Candido is undefeated and is piling up submissions in Shooto-Brazil so he could be one to watch. Brandon Moreno is very young at 22 but has a lot of fights for his age and hasn’t lost in four years, so I like his chances as well.
Having a title shot at stake makes this season much more interesting than the last couple of seasons, even if it doesn’t have the strong coaches tension that McGregor/Faber and Jedrzejczyk/Gadelha had. It could also provide an opportunity for Benavidez and Cejudo to allow their personalities to come out as well and potentially put them back into the title picture after they fight in December. With 16 contestants and two coaches, hopefully at least one of them comes out of this as a viable contender for the untouchable “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
WENESDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS
-Tito Ortiz has offered to fight Fedor Emelianenko at 205 lbs in an interview with Fight Hub TV. He also expressed interest in fights with Royce Gracie and Quinton Jackson.
-C.B. Dolloway vs. Francimar Barroso and Yancy Medeiros vs. Sean Spencer have been added to the Fight Pass portion of UFC 203.
-UFC has announced a content partnership in Japan with DAZN, and over the top streaming service. All UFC live events as well as other original programming will be available of the service that costs 1,750 Japanese Yen a month.
-Former UFC heavyweight Shawn Jordan will make his WSOF debut against Ashley Gooch on Oct. 7 from Kansas City, MO.
-The card for Invicta FC 19 has been finalized and will be broadcast on UFC Fight Pass on Sept. 23 and will include:
•Interim Flyweight Title: Jennifer Maia (13-4-1) vs. Roxanne Modafferi (19-12)
•Atomweight Title: Ayaka Hamasaki (13-1) vs. Jinh Yu Frey (5-1)
•Bantamweight: Irene Aldana (5-2) vs. Faith Van Duin (6-2)
•Strawweight: Manjit Kolekar (8-0) vs. Kaline Medeiros (7-4)
•Strawweight: Tiffany Van Soest (0-0) vs. Kalyn Schwartz (0-0)
•Atomweight: Julia Jones (4-0) vs. Stephanie Skinner (4-5)
•Featherweight: Amber Leibrock (1-1) vs. Amy Coleman (2-0)
•Strawweight: Ashley Greenway (1-0) vs. Sunna Rannveig Davidsdottir (0-0)
•Shinya Aoki will defend his ONE FC Lightweight Championship against Eduard Folayang in November.
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)