The Ultimate Fighter series has helped the UFC dominate the world of professional mixed martial arts by utilizing one of the most effective media platforms to reach viewers: cable TV. The company has surged in popularity since the first season premiered in 2005 by reaching an audience of all different age groups and social backgrounds.
Realizing the show’s usefulness for marketing their brand, the UFC has used TUF to acquire fans in countries other than the U.S., such as: the United Kingdom, Brazil, and now China.
On Saturday night, December 7th, the Ultimate Fighter China will be making its debut in one of the most ripe markets in the world. UFC middleweight Cung Le will take the place of Dana White as the chief mentor of the show, and the UFC’s first Chinese fighter Zhang Tiequan along with undefeated Chinese MMA legend Ao Hailin will fill the roles as the opposing team coaches of the cast members.
Tryouts and interviews were held in Beijing, at the Cotai Strip Resorts in Macao, and the Marina Bays Sands in Singapore. Out of the one-hundred and fifty applicants who were considered, in the end, only sixteen fighters were selected.
Chong Allen Solomon, 31, Malaysia
Fu Changxin, 21, China
Lee Chunhan, 26, Chinese Taipei
He Jianwei, 24, China
Ning Guangyou, 32, China
Shih Liang, 35, United States
Yang Jianping, 25, China
Yao Zhikui, 22, China
Cheng Albert (Chang Kang), 27, Canada
Dong Xin, 21, China
Li Jinying, 26, China
Wang Anying, 22, China
Wang Sai, 27, China
Wu Qize, 25, China
Zhang Lipeng, 22, China
Zhu Qingxiang, 30, China
If the show is successful in popularizing the sport in the region, we could very well see the beginning of a new generation of mixed martial artists in China.