Last night, on FOX Sports 1, The Ultimate Fighter returned for its 21st season. It has been ten years since it first started and in this new season things have changed a bit.
When TUF for started it was fighters vs fighters with coach vs. coach but not this year. Now it is team vs team. That’s right. We have heard a lot about this but now we get to see it. This season it is in Florida where American Top Team and Blackzilians call home. In fact, they are 10 miles away from each other. There is a hatred here that is just as bad as it is between Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell. The owners of both teams hate each other so much that I wouldn’t be surprised that they would fight one another this season!
This season not only is it team vs team there are a few twists for you fight fans. First, it is all welterweights who have to fight to get into the house and the tournament. They all will live together like always but here comes the twists. Twist number one: all the fighters will be either training at ATT or Blackzilians gyms and not one place like all the other seasons. Twist number two: not only are they fighting for a contract with the UFC if the team wins, the gym wins $500,000. Let’s take a closer look at both teams.
American Top Team or ATT has been around since 2002 found by Ricardo Liborio along with hotel executive Dan Lambert as a partner. These men have a great working relationship with Lambert who takes care of the financial end along with the business end and Liborio is the head trainer/coach of ATT. These men, in just 5 short years, made ATT one of the best MMA camps in the east, and some say, in the world. Currently they have 4 World Champions two in Bellator, one in the UFC, and one in WSOF, also 7 former champions. ATT has 20 franchises along with several affilate gyms owned by current fighters. When ATT found out that 4 of their fighters were leaving to start their own gym with manger Glenn Robinson, that really pissed Lambert off and that is where it all the animosity begins. ATT is going to prove that they are the true gym in Florida and will show why they are the best.
Blackzilians was founded in 2011 by Pedro Diaz and Glenn Robinson who is the CEO of Authentic Sports Management. When four fighters from ATT wanted to leave and start their own gym, Robinson made a deal with Imperial Athletics to take over rent payments so the fighters could have a place to train. After a year or so Robinson moved the team to JACO Hybrid Training Center where they are now. Not too long after this, Rashad Evans who left Greg Jackson’s due to problems with current UFC World Light-Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones. They were teammates and close friends but now can’t be near each other. After meeting one another, Evans and Robinson hit it off and Robinson became Evans manager. Soon after their were about 7 or 8 fighters coming to the Blackzilians. Currently, they have 40 fighters and a lot more up-and-comers.
With all this going on these teams want to prove they belong here and they want to call their gym the only true gym in Florida. There are friends on both sides of the camps but there is a stiff competition between them. Do I see this season being one of the biggest yet ? YES. Do I think that this will fuel the fire even more between the teams ? YES. Do I think this is going to be great for both of them ? YES. This is what I have been waiting for to see from TUF; the whole team vs. team. We have seen all the fighters really bond with their teams/coaches but this season is really about the teams and showing what it is all about. If this season goes well which I think it will I can see TUF doing another team vs. team format and I have a few idea’s on which teams will be involved in it.
What do you fight fans think of all this ?