PRO MMA live report: The Ultimate Fighter 10 casting call

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Marcus Jones
Photo by Jeff Howard - Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Marcus Jones

The Ultimate Fighter reality show has given many young mixed martial artists an otherwise unattainable moment in the worldwide spotlight. It has turned dreams into reality, a chance at a coveted UFC contract, and recognition by fans, other fighters, and promoters.

For a few, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to become the best at what they do. For others, it can be a disappointment.

PRO MMA (promma.info) was on hand Monday, April 6th, in Seattle, Washington as The Ultimate Fighting Championship and Spike TV held an open casting call for the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show.

Mixed martial arts fighters from around the world showed up to try out for the once in a lifetime opportunity and chance for stardom.

The casting call was for fighters in the Middleweight (185lb), Light Heavyweight (205lb), and Heavyweight (265lb) divisions. The only requirements to try out were a professional fight record with at least three fights, winning or losing.

The Alaskan Assassin Sam Hoger
Photo by Jeff Howard - The Alaskan Assassin Sam Hoger

Matchmaker Joe Silva from the UFC, who was on hand to judge the tryout performances, later revealed fighters with less than three fights would be considered if they did something impressive enough to catch his eye.

“For those fighters that have less than three fights you will not be disqualified, but you better do something great and impress me. I would rather have a guy that is 10-2 than a guy that is 2-0 unless you do something impressive,” Silva said.

The casting call/tryouts consisted of three rounds. The first round was two minutes of grappling, with the fighters starting from their knees. It was made clear by the judges the fighters were not to slam their opponents and absolutely no heel hooks were allowed.

The reality show hopefuls were also urged to not hurt their opponents by any means. “Do not hurt your opponents! If you get a submission, let it go! I will see it if you get it, no need to hurt anyone!” Joe Silva said repeatedly.

After the grappling round was completed, a list of fighters that impressed the judges and made the first cut were announced. The fighters that did not make the list were instructed to keep trying.

Joe Silva urged them, “Keep fighting! Many great fighters who have tried out [for TUF] didn’t make it. Roger Huerta, Jason McDonald, Clay Guida didn’t make it on to the show, and still made it into the UFC. The most important thing is to get more experience and keep trying.”

Heavyweight hopeful Chris Tuchscherer
Photo by Jeff Howard - Heavyweight hopeful Chris Tuchscherer

Those that made the cut were then instructed to get ready for the second round, which consisted of striking pads with kicks, punches, and elbows. The fighters were called by name, five or six at a time, to come to the middle of the banquet room to try and impress the judges with their standup ability. The judges walked back and forth, assesing each fighter, some longer than others.

After watching the last fighter hit the pads, TUF co-executive producer Andrea Richter announced the list of fighters who made the second cut and would go on to the third and final stage of the day, the interview. The TUF hopefuls listened intently as the names were called out. After the final name was read, there was both jubilation and disappointment.

The fighters that made it to the interview stage were both relieved and excited to make it one step closer to being cast for TUF season 10. For those that didn’t, many left with their heads down, wondering where it was they went wrong.

Masked Fighter Robin Phoenix
Photo by Jeff Howard - Masked Fighter Robin Phoenix

Prior to the interviews, all of the fighters were told, “This is not a job interview. Fighting is only half of the equation. After all, this is a television show, so you must have personality and be able to talk and appear on camera.” For the final stage, the remaining fighters were called in, one at a time, to speak with the Spike TV and TUF production staff. This stage was held privately, so press was not allowed to attend.

After a long day of grappling, striking, the interview, trying to make their way into the reality show and ultimately the UFC, the remaining hopefuls were left unknowing. They were told the final decisions would be made in approximately one week. Ultimately they were left wondering and waiting for the “phone call”. Those that get the much anticipated call, will then have to fly to Las Vegas and undergo medical tests and one last interview before they know if they will be cast on the Ultimate Fighter season 10.

In the end, only 186 fighters showed up for the casting call. This was far less than the over 600 fighters that showed up in Chicago to try out for season 9. The UFC hopefuls ranged from obscure to outrageous, unknown to well-known. One fighter, Robin Phoenix, wore a lucha libre style mask throughout the entire process and actually made it past the second cut and on to the interview.

Among the notable hopefuls were former NFL players Rex Richards, Marcus Jones, and Herbert Goodman. Established fighters such as WEC vet Bryan Baker, Sportfight and Strikeforce alumn Mychal Clark, former BoDog Fight and EliteXC fighter Mario Rinaldi, and YAMMA veteran and Brock Lesnar’s teamate Chris Tuchscherer were also in attendance.

By:  Jeff Howard