THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER: AMERICAN TOP TEAM VS. BLACKZILIANS the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s long-running reality series, returns to FOX Sports 1 today, April 22 (10:00 PM ET) with a 90-minute premiere featuring an all-new format, team trophy, new bragging rights and $500,000 on the line. The show is followed at 11:30 PM ET by a half-hour FOX SPORTS LIVE PRESENTS TUF TALK special recapping the episode and interviewing both gym owners and fighters from each gym.
For the first time in the show’s 10-year history, season 21 features a gym-versus-gym format pitting fighters from the famed American Top Team against their South Florida crosstown rival Blackzilians. The two teams fight for $500,000, the first-ever The Ultimate Fighter Team Trophy and most importantly, the ultimate bragging rights.
This season features eight rising welterweights (170 pounds) from each team living in a South Florida house alongside their competition. The fighters train at their home gym with their own coaches and sparring partners. However, fights move to the winning fighter’s respective gym, always leaving one fighter to compete in enemy territory. Adding to the anticipation ahead of each bout, opponents won’t be known until the weigh-in. The culmination of the season sees two fighters meet at The Ultimate Fighter Finale in July 2015, where the winning gym is crowned.
There’s no shortage of bad blood between these two camps. In 2001, the famed American Top Team gym was founded in Coconut Creek, Fla. by Dan Lambert. The gym has since been home to numerous champions and top contenders including current UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, plus well-known fighters like Thiago Alves, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, Tyron Woodley and Dustin Poirier. In 2011, several members left to start their own camp, the Blackzilians. Partnering with successful businessman Glenn Robinson, the fighters started their own training facility 20 minutes away in Boca Raton, Fla., beginning one of the deepest rivalries in all of MMA. The Blackzilians camp is home to former UFC light heavyweight champions Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort, as well as top contenders Anthony Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, Michael Johnson and Matt Mitrione.
After the season premiere, THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER: AMERICAN TOP TEAM VS. BLACKZILIANS continues with 11 more one-hour shows Wednesdays (10:00 PM ET). Each episode is followed by FOX SPORTS LIVE at 11:00 PM ET, featuring a half hour of TUF TALK hosted by Karyn Bryant, with analysts Dominick Cruz and Michael Bisping contributing throughout the season, breaking down episodes, interviewing cast members and highlighting key moments in the TUF series. Both Cruz and Bisping were featured on previous seasons of THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER, with Cruz coaching season 15, while Bisping won season 3 and later coached on season 9. This is the fifth season of THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER to air on FOX Sports 1. The series is the network’s highest rated and most watched original program since the network’s inception in August 2013.