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Spike and the UFC change plans for ninth season of “The Ultimate Fighter”

Several fighters and managers have contacted notifying us that they received communication from UFC and Spike TV officials regarding requirements for the upcoming ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter.

Previous plans called for fighters to apply at middleweight (185 pounds) and welterweight (170 pounds) but show organizers indicate that UFC President Dana White wants to feature lightweight (155 pounds) fighters in place of middleweights. Welterweight is still slated to be the other weight class featured on the show.

Other changes for the tryout requirements include fighters with fewer than three professional fights being discouraged from trying out. A manager also showed us an e-mail in which he was told, “Don’t even bother sending anyone to the tryouts unless they have a pro record.”

TUF 9, which will feature a team of United States-based fighters taking on a team of fighters from the United Kingdom, is expected to begin taping during the first quarter of 2009. Tryouts were held last week in England and will be held later this week in Chicago.

Coaches for the show have yet to be finalized but Michael Bisping is expected to lead the team of British fighters against an American middleweight. It is expected that Bisping will fight the opposing coach during a pay-per-view event that will be held soon after the show has finished airing. Thus far, speculation has centered around the winner of a UFC 93 bout in January between Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson getting the nod as Bisping’s opposition.

  • Bill says:

    “Don’t send anyone without a pro record”? I don’t believe Amir Sabdollah had any pro fights…and he won. You can always find a diamond in the rough. Also, there have been only a few the coachs on TUF that have had any experience in coaching. This year, with Mir and Noguira, is very different, they are great coaches. I like Bisping, he is going to be fighting for a long time, but as a coach he will be lacking a ton of experience, especially if he is opposite a guy like Dan Henderson.

  • Patrick says:

    I disagree with the whole pro-record thing, there are plenty of guys who just stay in the amateur circuit waiting to get a big time shot.

    I really wish they would do welterweights and heavyweights though, this season is already lightweights and last season was middle weights… they need to start a rotation.

  • jim smith says:

    Is it just me or should the coach be someone with a solid career and experience? Bisbing has not been around all that long and hasn’t had that many tough oppenents. and when those oppenent were good, look at how he did. VERY questionalbe decision with Hamill, lacklust win over Leban, loss to Evans. Dana white is really trying to build him for the sake of English fans. i’s rather watch Ross Pointon.

  • egad81 says:

    There should be a show where the fighters have NO PRO RECORD.

    There are a TON of guys trying to get into MMA these days. I stick to fighting in parking lots and back yard BBQs (NO I AM NOT KIMBO)

  • JTM says:

    I was hoping the announcement would be that it’s going to be USA vs. Brazil or something a little more competetive. Mind you if the UK fighters take a leaf from Paul Taylor’s book rather than Bisping’s, at least it’ll be an entertaining, if one-sided season.

  • Guy Gaduois says:

    I hope that’s not the plan for a fight between Bisping and the winner of Franklin v. Henderson. Bisping’s not there. I don’t know that a better matchup wouldn’t be with Nate Marquardt as coach of the US team . . .
    Bisping looked very speedy against Leben, but he’ll need a much bigger bag of tricks against Rich or Dan. Nate would beat him, too, but I think it would be more fun to watch.

  • Patrick says:

    Franklin or Henderson (take your pick) will mess Bisping up. He won’t be able to dance around those two.

  • Patrick says:

    Also, hey, if anyone watched the video of the UF9 tryouts in London, you can see why Dana wants lightweights. Apparently a few of the guys at the tryouts were fantastic LW fighters.

    It’s part of Whites normal video blog thing, check it out if you can find it.

  • Ken says:

    so let me get this straight there is no more middle weights in TUF 9 there changing it to light weight, and no one that has not had any pro fight shouldnt try-out at all? why not… Ive come to learn that in most cases not all that some of the best fighters are guys who are just coming up an hungry ass hell for it but cant afford gym trainers, the instructors, the coaches,and things like that…so why hold them back?
    guys like me wanna get in there mix it up kick ass an be that next guy…..a coach does determine how good u r …. so why are there not all these factors that are taken into consideration? no money for coaches, and etc… money for video interviews, or camcoders, an etc…. these are things that im wondering because i myself love to fight i dont care who it is i just want to fight an to push that off to the side is crap because no all of us get the opportunity to fight like we want to……

  • mike wolfe says:

    I don’t pretend to know what’s happening in the UK MMA scene, but the Brit fighters in the UFC have great technical boxing skills. With more traditional MMA fighters who are still developing, that could make for interesting match ups. The old striker vs. grappler thing.

    Alcohol in the house could be very interesting, too. The guys I’ve known from the UK love their beer, and man can they put it away.

  • Loco541 says:

    thats dumb, we gotta watch lightweights again, how lame

  • mmac says:

    I’m with JTM; we should really be looking at USA vs. Brazil. I know the UFC is developing the UK market, but don’t you think there’s enough residual excitement for MMA in Brazil, of all places, to develop a UFC presence there with a minimum of effort? It seems that there would be far, far more fighters there than the UK.

    There would also be many more reps for the sport that could serve as coach – Bisping is not a quality fighter, he’s just the only well known UFC Brit.

  • ACK! says:

    I would really like to see Leben as the other coach, even though they just fought… I know a rematch wouldn’t excite anyone, but I really believe he is the best coach. Two former TUFers coaching against eachother… The straighlaced, confident Bisping vs. the once out of control, cocky Leben. Seems like a no brainer to me. (Henderson and Franklin do next to nothing for me.)

  • ihateemo says:

    I think maybe the “pro fight” criteria is so that they can do more research – since there’ll be video – into the applicants’ fight styles?

    Just a thought.

  • Rich S. says:

    you know,
    i was starting to wonder how it switched from fighters like Bisping and Rashad [both undefeated with more than 10 fights when casted] to some of these other guys who are 0-0 or 0-4 or something..

    they need to start grabbing guys with the records to prove they can hang.. instead of these guys who don’t have any professional fights..

  • Rich S. says:

    and correct me if i’m wrong, but wasn’t season 2 the last season with HW’s on it?

    good lord, i know HW’s are generally boring, but they really need another HW cast..

  • Goomba says:

    They need a cast of HWs and LHWs, that way LHWs don’t compete as a HW and then cut back down after the show.

    And I agree with the pro-record requirement. This is the UFC, not EXC or KOTC or some developing brand. This is where the best are (supposed) to be at, not the beginners. Of course, exceptions get made for the quality fighters (like Velasquez), but TUF isn’t the place for that. They need more quality fighters to hit a better fanbase.

  • JDMMA says:

    yea we can do UK VS Brazil, have bisping be a coach along wit machida, and call the show TUF9 dancing with the stars edition, and the fighter that spends the least amount of time pressing the action wins

  • Shatner says:

    After what I saw at UFC 89 Dan Henderson could stand there and let Bisping hit him in the face repeatedly and then kick his ass.Bisping is only being pushed because the UFC wants to be big in UK.He is not in the same class as Henderson and Franklin.

  • matthew says:

    leben as a coach is the most amusing comment i have ever read on this site.


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