The UFC’s lucrative experiment with “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series in 2005 helped propel MMA’s popularity to unimaginable heights. They have used the popular reality series to showcase future UFC talent, in essence using it as a farm system for developing young talent. Current UFC lightweight champion Forrest Griffin was the winner of the show’s inaugural season, adding to the show’s credibility. Now it looks as though the WEC will produce a similar show in 2009.
Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the UFC and the WEC, hopes that they can mirror some of the successes of “TUF,” while focusing on the lighter, often more exciting, weight classes.
“From the beginning it (a reality show) was something always in our plans,” WEC vice president Peter Dropick said. “Versus, we’re in discussions with Versus. We’re looking right now at trying to figure out what we’re going to do exactly.
“We’ve got a lot of ideas,” he added. “We want to find ways similar to the UFC to showcase our fighters on a more consistent basis.”
Initially, the WEC held all major weight classes, outside of the heavyweights. However, two months ago, Zuffa decided that they would eliminate the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, leaving the WEC with the bantamweight (135), featherweight (145), lightweight (155) and welterweight (170) divisions.
Although “TUF” has established the blueprint for MMA reality TV success, the WEC is not certain that they will follow the exact track that their sister company laid, but they are certain that it will happen within the year.
“I don’t know if we’ll do exactly what the UFC did with The Ultimate Fighter, but we do have plans for a reality show of some nature,” Dropick stated. “Possibly soon and launching in 2009.”