Coming this January, the spotlight will shine on a new class of hungry, talented and determined fighters as The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia presented by Xbox One showcases the newest crop of fighters on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) organization’s storied reality series. Series veterans Patrick Côté (20-8) and Kyle Noke (20-6-1) lead a cast of welterweight (170lbs) and middleweight (185lbs) fighters, as Canada and Australia go head-to-head in the fifth international edition of the show.
Eight Aussies made their way to the Great White North to live and train together with eight Canadians in the most challenging sports tournament on television. Filmed just north of Montreal, the fighters spend six grueling weeks competing and fine-tuning their Mixed Martial Arts skills for a shot at a six-figure contract with the UFC.
“If guys thought fighting in the toughest tournament on television was hard, imagine how they feel doing it with a whole country on their shoulders,” said UFC President Dana White. “These country vs. country seasons of The Ultimate Fighter are awesome because not only do these guys deal with living in a house with other fighters, training twice a day and putting everything on the line for their dream opportunity, but now it’s even more personal – it’s patriotic. Next season, we lined up one of the deepest talent pools with some of the toughest up and coming fighters and put national bragging rights on the line along with the UFC contract, as Canada and Australia go head-to-head to kick off 2014.”
“The Ultimate Fighter is one of Sportsnet’s most popular UFC programs, and the stakes will be higher than ever with Canada’s first-ever participation in the international series,” said Navaid Mansuri, Vice President, Broadcast Operations & Sportsnet Programming, Rogers Media. “Canadians always get behind their country, and it will be no different with TUF Nations. We’re excited to deliver this can’t-miss 12-episode reality series to UFC fans across the country, and hopefully witness the first-ever Canadian Ultimate Fighter champion.”
“The airing of The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia, premiering in January on TVA Sports, allows us to reaffirm our commitment to the UFC; a prestigious property that has an established fanbase in Quebec,” explains Serge Fortin, Vice-President of TVA Sports. “This reality show will provide mixed martial arts fans with an opportunity to get to know high-level athletes, as well as established UFC stars such as Patrick Côté, who was chosen by the UFC to coach Team Canada. Patrick is already known to TVA Sports viewers as an analyst for mixed martial arts galas, and he’s also a key UFC ambassador in Quebec, across Canada and around the world.”
“We are excited and proud to announce our association with the UFC on The Ultimate Fighter Nations, and to be giving the competing fighters a sneak peak at some of the best that Xbox One has to offer,” said Craig Flannagan, Director of Marketing, Xbox Canada. “The UFC is an iconic sports brand that our Canadian Xbox fans love. We know that many of our fans will be tuning in to enjoy TUF Nations live on their Xbox One in January.”
“Having a true industry leader like Xbox One as our presenting partner for TUF Nations is terrific for not only our production but for our fans as well,” said Tom Wright, UFC Managing Director, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. “People often say you are judged by the company you keep, and with Xbox One so integrally involved with this project, we couldn’t have found a better brand or more innovative product to keep company with.”
Below is a full list of competitors by country and in alphabetical order (name, professional MMA record, age, fighting out of):
Coached by Patrick Côté
Olivier Aubin-Mercier, 4-0, 24, Montreal
Matthew Desroches, 4-0, 21, Fredericton
Kajan Johnson, 19-10-1, 29, Montreal
Chad Laprise, 7-0, 27, London, Ont.
Luke Harris, 10-2, 36, St. Albert, Alb.
Nordine Taleb, 8-2, 32, Montreal
Elias Theodorou, 8-0, 25, Toronto
Sheldon Westcott, 8-1, 29, St. Albert, Alb.
Coached by Kyle Noke
Chris Indich, 6-1, 26, Perth, WA
Jake Matthews, 6-0, 19, Melbourne
Brendan O’Reilly, 5-0, 26, Brisbane, QLD
Richard Walsh, 7-1, 24, Sydney
Vik Grujic, 6-2, 36, Melbourne
Daniel Kelly, 6-0, 36, Melbourne
Tyler Manawaroa, 10-0, 19, Brisbane, QLD
Zein Saliba, 4-0, 25, Sydney
A nine-year veteran of the UFC, Côté appeared on the reality series in 2006 when he joined a cast of UFC alumni in The Ultimate Fighter: The Comeback. Originally from Rimouski, Quebec, the bilingual fighter was the first Canadian to reach the series final, and remains only one of two Canadian fighters’ to have done so. Côté then went on a five-fight win streak in the UFC, earned a shot at then-UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Noke, a native of Dubbo, New South Wales, joined the reality series ranks when he fought his way onto season 11, The Ultimate Fighter: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz. He was Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell’s No.1 pick, and reached the quarterfinals. He has since gone 4-2 in the UFC, including an impressive Submission of the Night win over Chris Camozzi and a devastating KO last time out over Charlie Brenneman.
The series will have 12 episodes, Wednesday’s on Sportsnet 360 and TVA Sports, with each episode’s winner advancing in the single-elimination tournament, and culminating in a three-hour finale.
Many of today’s most recognizable names in the UFC have emerged from The Ultimate Fighter series, which produced champions such as Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans and Matt Serra and season winners Michael Bisping, Ryan Bader and Nate Diaz. This will be Australia’s second participation in the series, having taken part in the second international edition battling the U.K. in The Ultimate Fighter The Smashes: U.K. vs. Australia.