x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Coming soon: American Idol with fists

Talks are under way to bring television show The Ultimate Fighter to the capital, in addition to the Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts in April.

SYDNEY // It is like American Idol with fists. And it could be on its way to the Emirates. Talks are under way to bring television show The Ultimate Fighter to the capital. This would be in addition to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bouts in April. The Ultimate Fighter is a hit US reality show now in its 10th season. It pits mixed-martial-arts fighters in a series of knockout competitions, with the winner of the series earning a professional UFC contract.

The show has helped launch the careers of fighters such as Michael Bisping, Joe Stevenson and Kendall Grove, and was instrumental in building the success of the brand. Taking it internationally, said Dana White, UFC president, is crucial to his dream of making UFC the world's most popular sport. "My goal is to have The Ultimate Fighter everywhere, in every country, and continue to grow talent in all these different places," he said at UFC 110 in Sydney yesterday.

"But first we have to come in and do what we did in Australia and the UK. You come into these markets and then after an event - people are talking about it." That is when, he said, you introduce The Ultimate Fighter. "If you are a fight fan, then The Ultimate Fighter is the best show on television," he said. "It translates well in any country." Mr White said UFC was working on a "couple" of contracts but that the Middle East was likely to be the first to happen. "Obviously we are going to bring an event there, we want to kick-start that market," he said. "But when I was talking about [The Ultimate Fighter], that will probably be the first place we do it, in the Middle East. We are in talks with people in Abu Dhabi about it now."

loatway@thenational.ae