For years now, Dana White has been talking about a global expansion for their long running reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. He's talked about bringing the show to Brazil, Canada, and even Abu Dhabi for the longest time, and while most people thought the UFC president was just talking about his grand plans and pipe dreams, it looks like it is finally going to happen. On the UFC 127 and UFC 129 conference call (Transcribed by Sherdog), White talked about bringing the show to Asia on 2011, with the first host country being the Philippines:
"The Ultimate Fighter is gonna start airing in every country. We’re gonna start doing ‘The Ultimate Fighter UK’, ‘The Ultimate Fighter Canada', ‘The Ultimate Fighter Philippines’. We’re doing it everywhere."
"This year. I’m pretty sure the first one’s probably gonna be the Philippines."
The Ultimate Fighter has been one of the longest running reality shows in America, and it has successfully produced a myriad of UFC stars. Aside from the sudden jolts of fan interest on seasons featuring guys like Kimbo Slice, and now Brock Lesnar, the general perception on The Ultimate Fighter though is a bit bleak. Most think that after more than 12 seasons, the format is getting stale and the talent pool of 'TV friendly' fighters is thinning. This though, isn't where the international edition of TUF is lacking.
Outside of the United States, there is an untapped market for MMA, and with the massive marketing machine that is The Ultimate Fighter, Dana White knows he can create and develop new stars from the international talent pool:
"What’s happening is, as this sport becomes more popular in all these different countries now, there’s a lot more talent coming up. Believe me, there’s a lot of guys out there that are coming up. We’re doing nothing but cultivating new talent."
No official date has been announced for the 2011 debut of TUF Philippines, but BloodyElbow.com has been informed that while there are details that are still needed to be ironed out, the legwork is already being done and they are confident that it will be finalized soon.
UFC officials have been talking to ABS-CBN, the host network which has a TV deal with the UFC, for months now, and sources close to the URCC, the Philippines' top MMA promotion, have also told us that the head of UFC Asia has already set up meetings with the URCC brass to possibly talk about the participation of some of the top Filipino fighters in the show.
The UFC has made plans of hosting a show in the Philippines before, even sending Brandon Vera and Chuck Liddell on separate promotional tours to the country a few years back. Both events were huge successes with both fighters being swarmed by several thousand Filipino MMA fans, but plans didn't push through with Dana White citing "sponsorship problems" during the global financial crisis. Now, with the steadying economy, and the still growing rabid fanbase - as evidenced by Georges St. Pierre's visit to the Philippines - the country could be ready once again for a UFC invasion. The first step, The Ultimate Fighter Philippines.