FX and the Ultimate Fighting Championship organisation today unveiled the identities of the sixteen Australian and British mixed martial artists set to represent their nations in The Ultimate Fighter: Australia vs UK – TheSmashes.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) finalists are among the top fighters in both nations’ lightweight and welterweight divisions, with the Australian team comprised of representatives from NSW, QLD and WA, while the UK team features fighters from all over England as well as Northern Ireland.
“These guys have definitely made the second international TUF show ‘can’t miss’ TV,” said UFC President Dana White. “Going into this thing, I had no idea just how much the Aussies and the Brits can’t stand losing to each other. Now I know.”
Premiering Wednesdays at 7:30pm AEST on FX in Australia from September 19, the 13-episode, Australian-produced series follows the selected fighters as they live together in The Ultimate Fighter house, training and competing against eachother for a prized contract with the UFC, culminating with a live three-hour finale in December.
Guided by Australian coach George Sotiropoulos, Team Australia comprises of:
Grant Blackler, 23, Sunshine Coast
Patrick Iodice, 19, GoldCoast
Richie Vaculik, 29, Sydney
Ben Wall, 23, Brisbane
Ben Alloway, 31, GoldCoast
Xavier Lucas, 31, Perth
Manuel Rodriguez, 27, Sydney
Robert Whitaker, 21, Sydney
English coach Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson takes charge of Team UK:
Colin Fletcher, 29, Sunderland
Norman Parke, 25, Bushmills, Nth Ireland Michael Pastou, 30, Essex
Mike Wilkinson, 24, Leigh
Luke Newman, 22, London
Bola Omoyele, 30, London
Valentino Petrescu, 30, Essex
Brad Scott, 23, Melksham
The two lightweight coaches – both alumni of The Ultimate Fighter television series in the Unites States – will also go head-to-head in the Octagon at the live finale.
Of mentoring his charges, Australian coach George Sotiropoulos said: “It’s a really diverse group of guys on the team, but the thing that’s uniting them is that everyone’s motivated and focused. There’s a lot of personal and national pride at stake but they’re going into the competition with a positive attitude and are really pulling together as a team. I’m very impressed by their maturity.”
British coach Ross Pearson is confident about Team UK’s chances: “Having been where they are, I know exactly what the guys are facing. They’re taking it all in their stride and, despite being so far from home, they’re eager to prove themselves, so morale is high. They each bring unique strengths to the team so the sparks are really going to fly when they meet the Aussies in the Octagon.”
This is only the second time in TUF’s seven-year history that teams will represent their country of origin, the first taking place in 2009 when Team USA took on Team UK.
Viewers outside of Australia will be able to tune-in and watch the series on TUF.tv.
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag: #TUFSmashes #TeamAUS #TeamUK