It’s crazy to think that The Ultimate Fighter reality television series turned 10-years-old this year. First airing on Spike TV from 2005-2011, then on FX in 2012-2013, and on Fox Sports 1 from 2014-present, the show enters its 21st installment this season (although there have been numerous international seasons as well).
The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians (aka TUF 21) premieres this evening (April 22) on Fox Sports 1 at 10 p.m. ET with a special 90-minute episode. This season features all-new format between rival gyms, as well as a new TUF Team Trophy and $500,000 in prize money.
Immediately following tonight’s show there will be a TUF Talk on Fox Sports 1 at 11:30 p.m. ET recapping the episode and talking with both gym owners and fighters from each gym.
From the press release:
This season features eight rising welterweights (170 pounds) from each team living in a South Florida house alongside their competition. The fighters train at their home gym with their own coaches and sparring partners. However, fights move to the winning fighter’s respective gym, always leaving one fighter to compete in enemy territory. Adding to the anticipation ahead of each bout, opponents won’t be known until the weigh-in. The culmination of the season sees two fighters meet at The Ultimate Fighter Finale in July 2015, where the winning gym is crowned.
There’s no shortage of bad blood between these two camps. In 2001, the famed American Top Team gym was founded in Coconut Creek, Fla. by Dan Lambert. The gym has since been home to numerous champions and top contenders including current UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, plus well-known fighters like Thiago Alves, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, Tyron Woodley and Dustin Poirier. In 2011, several members left to start their own camp, the Blackzilians. Partnering with successful businessman Glenn Robinson, the fighters started their own training facility 20 minutes away in Boca Raton, Fla., beginning one of the deepest rivalries in all of MMA. The Blackzilians camp is home to former UFC light heavyweight champions Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort, as well as top contenders Anthony Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, Michael Johnson and Matt Mitrione.
After the season premiere, THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER®: AMERICAN TOP TEAM VS. BLACKZILIANS continues with 11 more one-hour shows Wednesdays (10:00 PM ET). Each episode is followed by FOX SPORTS LIVE at 11:00 PM ET, featuring a half hour of TUF TALK hosted by Karyn Bryant, with analysts Dominick Cruz and Michael Bisping contributing throughout the season, breaking down episodes, interviewing cast members and highlighting key moments in the TUF series. Both Cruz and Bisping were featured on previous seasons of THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER, with Cruz coaching season 15, while Bisping won season 3 and later coached on season 9. This is the fifth season of THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER to air on FOX Sports 1. The series is the network’s highest rated and most watched original program since the network’s inception in August 2013.