TUF 21 Pits American Top Team vs. Blackzilians for $500,000 Prize

March 1, 2015
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Las Vegas, Nev. – Coming off a historic season that saw the crowning of the UFC’s first-ever women’s strawweight champion, the next installment of The Ultimate Fighter looks to raise the stakes once again. For the first time in the show’s 10-year history, a gym versus gym format will be introduced pitting fighters from the famed American Top Team against those from Blackzilians, all while living together under one roof in South Florida.

It will be a monumental season, as $500,000, the first-ever The Ultimate Fighter Team Trophy and most importantly, ultimate bragging rights, are all up for grabs. The decisions and strategy determined by each team have never impacted the show as much as they will this season.

This season of The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians premieres with a two-hour episode Wednesday, April 22, at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 and will continue with 11 more one-hour shows Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET. 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.

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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, former title challengers Thiago Alves and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, former WEC featherweight champ Mike Brown, Hector Lombard, Tyron Woodley and Dustin Poirier. However, in 2011 several members defected to start their own camp, the Blackzilians. Partnering with successful businessman Glenn Robinson, the fighters started their own training facility only 20 minutes away in Boca Raton, Fla., beginning one of the deepest rivalries in all of MMA. The Blackzilians camp is now 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.

This season features eight rising welterweights from each team who will be selected by their respective gym owner to live in a South Florida house alongside their competition. The fighters will continue to train at their home gym with their own coaches and sparring partners. However, fights will no longer be held at a neutral site and now move to the teams’ respective gyms, 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 will see two fighters meet at The Ultimate Fighter Finale in summer 2015, where the winning gym will be crowned.

This season’s cast includes:


Marcelo Alfaya (16-7, 1NC) Porto Alegre, Brazil
Steve Carl (21-4), Belle Plain, Iowa
Nathan Coy (14-5), Vallejo, Calif.
Michael Graves (4-0), Toledo, Ohio
Hayder Hassan (6-1), Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Sabah Homasi (8-4), New Brunswick, N.J.
Uros Jurisic (5-0), Ljubljana, Slovenia
Steve Montgomery (8-2), Florence, S.C.


Valdir Araujo (14-5), Gama, Federal District, Brazil
Carrington Banks (3-0), Peoria, Ill.
Luiz Buscape (16-5), Joao Pessoa, Paraiba, Brazil
Jason Jackson (4-2), Kingston, Jamaica
Vicente Luque (7-4-1), Westwood, N.J.
Andrews Nakahara (4-2-2), Mogi das Cruzes, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Felipe Portela (8-2), Brasilia, Brazil
Kamarudeen Usman (5-1) Auchi, Nigeria

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  • Timothy Malone

    Not crazy about the team vs team concept but them not knowing their opponent until weigh-ins is an interesting idea. I wonder though how then fights are chosen?

    • Sadstrangelittleman

      This is just weird to me – Not only does it take away the opportunity for talented fighters from smaller gyms (hopefully only for 1 season) but then they don’t even really have to be isolated like fighters from previous seasons have been, being that they train in a closed gym and then go home to a locked up house. Also the fact that the gym owner picks the fighters to send to the show is kinda weird cause that takes away any chance for a lesser know or newer gym fighter to get a chance on the show even if he is more talented. It also eliminates the entry bout into the show so they are getting in based on their past fights and coach favoritism instead of winning an entry fight. And what happens when the teams become unbalanced and there are more fighters of one team in the quarters and semis? Are they going to force 2 guys from the same gym to fight? Probably causing them to have to modify their entire schedule so they aren’t training with eachother – or even better since they don’t know who they are fighting they could end up fighting the guy they are training with the day before. The only thing kind of interesting is that they will be switching gyms for the fights, since that would make it more realistic and similar to a UFC fight where you aren’t always welcome in the arena or at home. All in all though I really don’t like the format for this season and think its a bad idea all around.

      • Muttley76

        Seems like they are doing it literally gym vs gym, in which case there could possibly be no individual winners, only a winning gym (500k might suggest that), in which case it could somehow end up that teammates never have to fight. I doubt it, but it’s possible. I’m glad for the shake up, I think TUF needs some changes of some sort (women helped some), it’s become kind of stale the last few years.

        • Guest

          I think this format would be best suited for a fight night or fox. With decent, main event type guys from either gym fighting, as well as the up and comers. Treat it more like a duel meet in wrestling.

  • peralez2383

    so a bunch of kids with no charisma…I’ll pass

    • Timothy Malone

      Some of these guys are somewhat prominent fighters though. Steve Carl was previously WSOF welterweight champion. Alfaya is from WSOF, Coy is from Bellator, Araujo fought for both those promotions, Buscape fought for Pride and WSOF.