When The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale airs on June 21st on SpikeTV from The Pearl at The Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, fans will be lucky to find any TUF7 fighters on the main card outside of the seventh season’s middleweight tournament final. Matthew Riddle, this week’s eliminated cast member, spoke to MMA Junkie after being ousted from the competition and revealed that only a select few cast members have been asked to fight at the finale:
“The people who didn’t fight up to par got the boot and got cut. I think the UFC’s just getting so big that they’re only going to take the best. A lot of the guys from the cast weren’t invited to fight at the finale. We’re not allowed to say, but I think it’s a fight everyone wants to see.”
The middleweight tournament final bout, Kendall Grove vs. Evan Tanner, Diego Sanchez vs. Luigi Fioravanti, and Spencer Fisher vs. Jeremy Stephens have been officially announced for the televised portion of the event with three more non-TUF bouts, Josh Burkman vs. Dustin Hazelett, Marvin Eastman vs. Drew McFedries, and Jeremy Horn vs. Dean Lister, already booked for the preliminary card. Space on the fight card is filling up fast and if Riddle’s comments are any indication a majority of the remaining fight card slots may be given to non-TUF 7 fighters.
The report fits in with recent rumors that the UFC is trying to reduce its 200-plus fighter roster. Signs of the reductions have been popping up for months but made headlines in recent weeks when Jake O’Brien was released following his first career loss and TUF 7 cast member Paul Bradley was permitted to sign with UFC competitor EliteXC. Typically, the UFC locks up “The Ultimate Fighter” cast members to long-term contracts but that does not appear to be the case this season, as the promotion appears to be signing only the most promising talent in an ongoing effort to reduce their ever-growing roster.
Based on Riddle’s comments it has been speculated that he will likely face Dante Rivera at The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale.
For more on The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale check out the MMAFrenzy.com rumors section.