On Saturday night, Dec. 7, history will be made as the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s long-running reality series, The Ultimate Fighter, makes its ground-breaking debut on Liaoning Satellite TV, reaching more than 830 million viewers across China. UFC star Cung Le, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion, serves as mentor and Chief Coach, while UFC‘s first Chinese fighter Zhang Tiequan, and China’s Mixed Martial Arts legend Ao Hailin, serve as team coaches for cast members. The pilot episode of The Ultimate Fighter China will air on 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, GMT +8.
In the inaugural The Ultimate Fighter China reality series, eight featherweight (145lbs/66kg) and eight welterweight (170 lbs/77kg) fighters will face off in the most challenging sports tournament on television. The final cast members were selected following tryouts and interviews in Beijing, at the Cotai Strip Resorts in Macao and the Marina Bays Sands in Singapore.
The 16 contenders are divided into two teams – coached by Zhang Tiequan and Ao Hailin respectively – and over the course of two months, train and live together in the The Ultimate Fighter gym and house, while competing for a six-figure contract with the UFC®.
“The inaugural The Ultimate Fighter China is a ground-breaking program and is an unprecedented initiative for any global sports league in China,” Mark Fischer, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of UFC Asia, said. “With national distribution through Liaoning Satellite TV, and the support from our presenting sponsors Cotai Strip Resorts Macao and Marina Bay Sands of the program, we will not only discover and develop the next generation of UFC fighters from China, but also introduce the UFC to millions of new fans across China.”
“Liaoning Satellite Television is thrilled to be the official broadcaster of The Ultimate Fighter China. With LRTV’s top production teams and facilities and with support from UFC, Chinese audiences will experience the best elements of its U.S. format while adopting a localized approach that will emphasize the athletes’ personal stories and profiles,” said Zeng Shaowu, Deputy Chief Editor of LRTV. “Combining the dynamic sport of the UFC with the talent present in China, I believe The Ultimate Fighter will showcase the spirit and power of China within the country and to the world.”
Added Edward Tracy, President and Chief Executive Officer of presenting sponsor Sands China Ltd: “Sands China is looking forward to continuing to working with the UFC in bringing the world’s greatest MMA athletes and events to this region. UFC Macao in November 2012 was a big success and we are excited that this new partnership will enable us to continue to host these high-octane, world-class sporting events, and to take advantage of this unique opportunity to identify promising MMA fighters in China. It’s all part of Sands China’s multi-tiered entertainment strategy, helping to diversify the entertainment offering in Macao.”
The Ultimate Fighter China will anchor Liaoning Satellite TV weekend block and will run every Saturday night throughout Dec. 2013, and every Saturday and Sunday in Jan. 2014. The winner in each episode will advance on to the single-elimination semifinals, and the winners of the semifinals will face-off in a three-hour Finale, live from The Venetian Macao’s CotaiArena in March 2014, to determine the inaugural champion of The Ultimate Fighter China. China’s most popular sports TV host, Huang Jianxiang, will also feature in this series through his exclusive feature program “Xiang’s Get to Know The Ultimate Fighter China”.
The list of 16 finalists was trimmed down from more than 150 applicants and hail from Greater China, United States, Canada, and Malaysia. The competitors – in alphabetical order (Name, Age, Country) – are divided in the following two weightclasses:
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