As the ufc continues its rapid international expansion, more and more countries seem to be putting in their bids for an exclusive version of the UFC’s popular reality TV show “The Ultimate Fighter”. The reasoning behind this country vs. country “TU(r)F War” is very sound and very simple: TUF is widely regarded as one of the major events that brought the UFC into the mainstream in the United States, and it’s remained on television with consistently-good ratings for a ridiculous amount of time. And the latest rumor surrounding TUF’s international expansion focuses on the possibility of a “Team UK vs. Team Australia” season. Here are all the details.
A new blog post on The Telegraph has got the rumor mill churning again, as journalist Gareth A. Davies recently said the following: “Also in Australia, Zuffa are looking at an Oz v England Ultimate Fighter series. They could call it ‘Ultimate Ashes’. There is a ton of interest here. Australia and England are natural rivals and have been so for a very long time in cricket and rugby. A TUF series between UK and Oz could run and run.”
There seems to be a bit of a negative reaction going around the internet towards this latest development, and there also seems to be two major schools of thought as to why this wouldn’t work. First and foremost, there’s the problem of coaches. There are a few high-level Australian fighters and British fighters in the UFC, but none of them can face each other because they’re in different weight divisions. And the possible British/Australian match-ups that could happen are between fighters who aren’t really at a high enough level to justify a coaching gig.
This I understand and, to be bluntly honest, completely agree with. The UFC simply doesn’t have enough top British or Australian stars to justify this kind of series, even if it would drum up a lot of interest based on the rivalry between the two countries. Just off the top of your head, name a big Aussie star and a big British star in the UFC. If you’re like me, your mind immediately warped to George Sotiropoulos and Michael Bisping. They’re definitely big stars, of that there can be no doubt, but the simple fact of the matter is that Sotiropoulos is a Lightweight and Michael Bisping is a Middleweight who once fought at Light Heavyweight. Bisping would either have to starve himself or Sotiropoulos would have to dine on a diet of double cheeseburgers in order for that fight to ever materialize.
The other school of thought is, dare I say it, a bit xenophobic. People have been complaining that they don’t want to watch an entire series of TUF focused on foreigners with their funny foreign accents. To which I say: get over yourselves. I’m one of those fans that don’t understand why the UFC subtitles Brits or Aussies to begin with. I’ve never really had a problem dealing with their accent, I mean, we live in a world of accents, just in the US alone. We already had a “Team US vs. Team UK” season, and for my money, it was a refreshing departure from the norm and gave us some really interesting drama. And I never once wondered what the Brits were saying.
So while I may be a fan of the “country vs. country” dynamic, since I think it brings out the best in the fighters representing their country while also giving us fans plenty of “must-see TV” moments, I just don’t think the time is right for a “Team UK vs. Team Australia” edition of TUF. I’d watch it if they made one, sure, but as it stands, there’s just too many factors that have no easy solution. But am I wrong here, fans and friends? What are your thoughts on a possible “Team UK vs. Team Australia” season of “The Ultimate Fighter”?