The Ultimate Fighter reality show has produced quite a few stars for the UFC in the past. Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Kenny Florian, Deigo Sanchez, Nate Diaz, Michael Bisping, and Josh Koscheck are all a product of the uber-popular Spike TV show.

Up until The Ultimate Fighter 10: The Heavyweights, the show featured fighters from two separate weight classes, offering two young prospects the opportunity at a coveted six-figure contract with the UFC. For those who do not win the title of “Ultimate Fighter”, success and a UFC contract are still possible. Just ask UFC lightweights Josh Koscheck and Kenny Florian, who both came up short of winning and have had successful careers inside the Octagon.

The UFC is the ultimate goal for any and all MMA fighters, period. Years of hard work and fighting in small regional shows, they all dream of fighting on the big stage at least once in their career. The Ultimate Fighter can be a fast ticket to stardom, success, and the culmination of a dream. Unfortunately, most fighters’ dreams are just that.

The UFC holds open tryouts for their Ultimate Fighter casting calls. Usually holding auditions for three weight classes. The Ultimate Fighter 10 casting call was open to heavyweights, light heavyweights, and middleweights. The tryouts consist of three rounds. After each round, if a fighter is good enough, or lucky enough, they are called back to participate in the next round. Each round narrows the field drastically and brings young fighters’ dreams that much closer.

The three rounds are grappling (from their knees, no leg-locks), striking (hitting the pads to show off their stand up), and finally, the interview. By the time the interview phase comes, the field is down to around twenty to thirty fighters.

The interview is the most difficult and important part of the casting call. Spike TV producers and UFC brass try and get a feel for the fighters’ personalities, hoping they will help generate ratings and have the “it” factor.

Unfortunately for many fighters, many who traveled thousands of miles and spent thousands of dollars, their hard work, time, and money were spent in vain. As they did with The Ultimate Fighter 10, the UFC will only be using one weight class for TUF 11, middleweights.

For the light heavyweight fighters that made it all the way to the final interview, their hopes and dreams were shot down. According to multiple LHW hopefuls, they were told that TUF 11 will feature only middleweights, but to keep trying.

The obvious question would be why? Did the UFC and Spike TV know ahead of time, that they were only looking for middleweights? If so, then why would they let these young fighters waste their time, effort, and money for nothing? Many of these hopefuls left their families and jobs behind, spent thousands of dollars to travel from far off places like Alaska, Maine, and Canada, only to be told their dream wouldn’t be a reality.

Ultimately, it seems, the UFC is not happy with the depth of their middleweight division, and are looking to refresh the talent pool at 185 lbs. However, is overlooking the same depth disparity in the 205 lbs. division a mistake? Only time will tell.

By:  Jeff Howard

10 thoughts on “The Ultimate Fighter 11: The Middleweights?”
  1. Great article – finally someone posting the reality that the remaining of us light heavyweights (around 18 or 19 of us) were cut. Many websites are still proclaiming that the LHW vets “made it to the next round.” Making said claim obviously without full details of the tryouts.

    It is correct that the LHWs were cut. Of the 19 of us remaining, after the final MW interview, we were all called into the press room and told that the SPIKE producers had found the talent and personalities they were looking for in the 85ers and would be doing 185 for this season. We were all also told that because 205 has been cut twice (at the last tryouts for season 10 as well) that it would be the “for sure” weight next season and that all of us standing there would “be remembered” for the next tryouts in the Spring.

    We were also asked if we could make 185 to step to the right and they’d begin the interview process. Although roughly 10 of the guys stepped into that line, it was fairly evident that the majority of them would in no way be able to make 185.

    Anyhow, I hope your article is read by more people so that the rumors flying around that 205ers are season 11’s focus will be put to rest. I spent close to a grand making this trip to LA, and unlike 90% of the contestant-hopefuls I spoke to, actually looked FORWARD to the interviews. After sending mass texts to family, coaches, teammates, fans via Twitter, FB, etc., that I’d made it to the interview round only to be cut… needless to say, I like many other guys were very disheartened.

    However, that is the nature of reality TV and what can we do? Be glad for the opportunity, proud of our efforts, and hopeful that our names and faces will be remembered once the tryouts for season 12 roll around.

    – Justin McCorkle

  2. Thank you Justin for your comment, and for enlightening any other readers who doubted this story. The sites that report that LHW’s are on next season obviously didn’t do their homework, and it is unfortunate. I have a couple of good friends who, like you, are LHW’s and made it to the interview stage of TUF 10 and 11 tryouts, only to be cut. The part that bothers me the most is that like you, many spent a bunch of money/time to travel that far for naught. Hopefully they follow through and you guys get on next season. Thanks again.

    Jeff Howard

  3. I am a 35 year old and wanted to know how and what website to go to so I can try out for The Ultimate Fighter. I am 175lbs is ir to late for next season?

Leave a Reply