Season 13 of the popular mixed martial arts reality show The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) debuts tonight in Canada on Spike TV and Rogers Sportsnet. The show features 14 welterweight (170lb) prospects vying for a six-figure UFC contract. Edmonton, Alberta’s Ryan McGillivray is Canada’s lone representative on the show. McGillivray (11-4-1) trains out of Legends gym in Edmonton and is unbeaten in his last four bouts. Of his 11 career wins, nine have come via submission.
This season, UFC heavyweight contenders Brock Lesnar and Junior Dos Santos will coach the two teams. Following their stint as coaches, Lesnar and Dos Santos will fight one another in the main event at UFC 131 in Vancouver on June 11, with the winner earning a shot at Cain Velasquez’s title. That event will mark the UFC’s second trip to British Columbia.
Like the previous two seasons of TUF, there will be one wild card slot, which means one fighter will get a second chance at making the finals even if he loses his first fight. UFC President Dana White has stated “the UFC rewards fighters who fight and go for it.” In Season 11, Court McGee put forth a valiant effort against Canadian Nick Ring, but lost a close decision. However, he was reinstated in the tournament and ended up winning the show.
Past winners of TUF include former UFC champions Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans and Matt Serra. Many of the most popular MMA athletes gained notoriety from their appearances on the show. Notable Canadians who have appeared on the show include Kalib Starnes (Season 3), Patrick Cote (Season 4), Krzysztof Soszynski (Season 8) and Nick Ring (Season 11). Also, Georges St. Pierre was a guest coach on TUF 4 and head coach on TUF 12.
Tonight’s premiere begins at 9 p.m. ET on Spike TV as well as Rogers Sportsnet Ontario, East, West and Pacific. For more info visit ultimatefighter.com.
By Mike Johnston