The seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter is expected to feature 16 middleweight fighters according to sources.
The reality series, which debuted in 2005, is largely credited with the explosion in popularity MMA and the UFC has experienced in recent years. The show has featured middleweights on 3 previous occasions. The first season of the show featured 8 middleweights which included Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck, Kenny Florian, and Chris Leben. Last year the third season of the show also featured middleweights which included Kendall Grove, Rory Singer, and Kalib Starnes. The fourth season, dubbed “The Comeback”, also featured middleweights.
The middleweight division is arguably one of the weakest divisions in the UFC right now. Anderson Silva defeated Rich Franklin for the UFC Middleweight Championship last year and hasn’t looked back since. He defeated Travis Lutter in a non-title fight earlier this year and defeated Nate Marquardt in the first round of their title fight at UFC 73 earlier this month to retain the middleweight title.
The division lacks many top contenders who are only a fight or two away from receiving a title shot and is in serious need of an influx of young fighters looking to make a run at the division’s title. Silva will face Franklin in October in a rematch for the middleweight title but beyond Franklin there are few fighters in line for the title. Two notable fighters who could receive a chance at the title with another win are Yushin Okami and Martin Kampmann. Other top middleweight fighters include Dan Henderson, Evan Tanner, and Kendall Grove.
The Ultimate Fighter 7 will go into production this winter and will air in the spring of 2008.