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.
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:
AMERICAN TOP TEAM BLACKZILIANS
Marcelo Alfaya (16-7, 1NC) Porto Alegre, Brazil Valdir Araujo (14-5), Gama, Federal District, Brazil
Steve Carl (21-4), Belle Plain, Iowa Carrington Banks (3-0), Peoria, Ill.
Nathan Coy (14-5), Vallejo, Calif. Luiz Buscape (16-5), Joao Pessoa, Paraiba, Brazil
Michael Graves (4-0), Toledo, Ohio Jason Jackson (4-2), Kingston, Jamaica
Hayder Hassan (6-1), Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Vicente Luque (7-4-1), Westwood, N.J.
Sabah Homasi (8-4), New Brunswick, N.J. Andrews Nakahara (4-2-2), Mogi das Cruzes, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Uros Jurisic (5-0), Ljubljana, Slovenia Felipe Portela (8-2), Brasilia, Brazil
Steve Montgomery (8-2), Florence, S.C. Kamarudeen Usman (5-1) Auchi, Nigeria
Many of today’s most recognizable names in the UFC have emerged from The Ultimate Fighter® series, which also produced champions such as Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, TJ Dillashaw, Carla Esparza and Matt Serra, as well as season winners Michael Bisping, Ryan Bader and John Dodson.