Despite record ratings for TUF 10, the turnout for TUF 11 tryouts this past Monday in LA was relatively low, at least according to Dana White.
There were 190 middleweights and 81 light heavyweights who showed up cauliflower ears and all in hopes of becoming the next “Ultimate Fighter.”
UFC president Dana White called it a low turnout and said he was looking to recruit three or four fighters that day. After season nine’s tryouts drew 700 welterweight and lightweights, he was perplexed by the drop-off.
“It’s very weird,” he said. “You would think right now in these hard economic times… I thought this would be the biggest turnout we ever had.”
The crew at BE thinks promotions like Strikeforce and Bellator, who are investing a lot in the up-and-coming prospects, are drying up the talent pool. I can’t say I disagree, but isn’t it possible the answer is a simple as there’s just a lot more lightweight and welterweight talent out there than in the heavier weight classes?
Regardless, it wasn’t all newcomers who showed up hoping to land a spot on the cast. A few veterans whose names you’ll probably recognize swallowed their pride and tried out.
“If this is another avenue I can take to get back in the UFC, great. I just figured, why not?”
“It’s been a few years since I’ve fought in the UFC, and this would be a great way to rejuvenate my career… switch gears and come back home.”
“I don’t give a (expletive). This is come out, see some friends and family, do the audition, whatever. I went into the light heavyweight group because the line was shorter.”
“When I did the first season, I was coming off the worst year of my life. I got kicked out of the jiu-jitsu program I spent six years building, had a tumor removed from my chest, found out my son had autism, all within about a three-month span. I walked away from the sport. Looking back, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. For any of these guys coming up, it’s the chance of a lifetime.”
Wayne Cole (who didn’t make the cut):
“I don’t know what I did. I’m just really disappointed. I paid a lot of money, and did a lot of things to make it here. Just a little hurt right now. I’m going to fight in the UFC before it’s over with. I’m definitely not going to give up.”
Thompson, Lambert and Southworth were chosen to advance to the second round of auditions, but if Southworth and all the other light heavyweights who made the cut want to be on the show, they’ll have to start losing weight if this report is accurate. Apparently, the UFC and Spike have since decided to cast middleweights only.
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 same thing happened during tryouts for this past season. The UFC held casting calls for middleweight, light heavyweights and heavyweights. You would think they could figure out their plan of attack before wasting people’s time and money.