By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran
The Daily Telegraph in Australia recently revealed another mainstream boost for Mixed Martial Arts in the nation, announcing that the UFC had signed off on a deal for free-to-air showing of the hit reality TV show The Ultimate Fighter: 28, currently underway on Channel 10.
The season stars Australia’s own UFC middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker, alongside rival Kelvin Gastelum, as each man leads his team of UFC hopefuls bidding to earn a contract with the World’s leading professional MMA organisation.
Whittaker was heralded as ‘the new face of Australian sport’. The 27-year-old got his own start with the UFC via the The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) platform, ultimately winning ‘The Smashes’ series in 2012, of which pitted Australian contenders against a team of UK rivals.
The Smashes aired down under on FX Australia, but the now UFC middleweight champion makes his TUF return on Channel 10, this time as a coach and under the acclaimed new format that saw a sleeker production style first implemented for TUF 17.
Joe Minehan, president of the International MMA Federation of Australia, looks forward to enjoying the latest mainstream step and the boost that it may give to the nationwide fan base. He commented: “IMMAFA is very pleased about the agreement between the UFC and channel 10 to air the Ultimate Fighter on free to air TV. The UFC have been very successful with this great product and featuring our home grown Robert Whittaker will help grow our fan base in Australia. This is one more step to bringing MMA into the mainstream sporting arena.”
In addition to the series broadcast, Channel 10 will air the TUF 28 Finale live from Las Vegas on December 1, plus the UFC’s next upcoming date in Australia taking place the following day in Adelaide. In November of 2015, over 56,000 fans attended UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm, at the Etihad stadium in Melbourne, setting a new UFC attendance record.
The historic Ultimate Fighter Season 1 is cemented as a cornerstone of the UFC’s success, capped off by the sensational 2005 Fight of the Year between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. The UFC will hope for TUF 28 to capture the attention of Australia in similar fashion.