PRESS RELEASE; NEW YORK, March 9 — More than two centuries after the United States achieved its independence from England, friction between the two nations is about to flare up again when “The Ultimate Fighter: United States Vs. United Kingdom” premieres Wednesday, April 1 at 10:00 PM, ET/PT on Spike TV.
For these 32 up-and-coming mixed martial arts fighters, two things are on the line: bragging rights for their respective countries, and a six-figure contract with the preeminent mixed martial arts organization in the world, The Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Season nine of Spike TV’s wildly successful original series, “The Ultimate Fighter,” features 16 lightweights (155 lbs) and 16 welterweights (170 lbs). They will train and compete under the watchful eye of the coaches, “The Ultimate Fighter 3? champion and top middleweight contender Michael Bisping, and former concurrent PRIDE champion of the 185 lbs and 205 lbs divisions and U.S. Olympian, Dan Henderson.
Each of the 32 contestants must fight his way into the Ultimate Fighter House by winning a preliminary bout that will be featured during the first two episodes (April 1 and 8). The remaining 10 episodes will feature the victorious 16 fighters and their quest for the coveted “Ultimate Fighter” crown.
The 32 fighters for “The Ultimate Fighter: United States Vs. United Kingdom” include:
Fighting to Represent the United States
- Ryan Biglar — A member of team Cobra Kai in Las Vegas, Biglar is a 24-year-old jiu-jitsu artist originally from Guam.
- Ray Elbe — Born and raised in Arizona, the 25-year-old Elbe (20-11) has spent parts of the last three years perfecting his muay thai skills in Phuket, Thailand.
- Christian Fulgium — Fighting out of the Gladiator camp in Lafayette, Louisiana, Fulgium is a wrestler with a combined 6-2-1 mixed martial arts record.
- DaMarques Johnson — Johnson, a member of Elite Performance in Salt Lake City, Utah, began training in mixed martial arts in 2001 while serving in the military. He has since amassed a 13-6 mixed martial arts record.
- Kevin Knabjian — Born and raised in Chicago, Knabjian (10-3-1) wrestled at Division 1 Eastern Illinois University and graduated with a degree in Business Management. Knabjian trains out of Gilbert Grappling in Chicago.
- Mark Miller — A 5′ 10″ welterweight muay thai artist, Miller (10-4) trains out of Dino Costeas MMA and Toro Muay Thai in Chicago.
- Jason Pierce — A former soccer standout at the University of Illinois at Springfield, Pierce (9-0) trains with Bettendorf’s Miletich Fighting Systems camp.
- Kiel Reid — Born and raised in Bettendorf, Iowa, Reid (8-1) returned to the area in 2005 to take up mixed martial arts full-time with the Miletich Fighting Systems camp.
- Paul Bird — A stand-up fighter, Paul Bird (4-1) trains in West Des Moines, Iowa out of the Des Moines MMA camp.
- Santino DeFranco — 26-year-old Santino DeFranco trains out of Southwest MMA in Tempe, AZ. A 5′ 10″ jiu-jitsu specialist, DeFranco holds a 13-4 mixed martial arts record.
- Jason Dent — Submission specialist Jason Dent owns and operates Griffon Rawl gym in Mentor, Ohio. He holds a combined 19-9 mixed martial arts record with bouts against Roger Huerta at UFC 63 and Gleison Tibau at UFC 68 under his belt.
- Cameron Dollar — A member of Fight Factory in Colorado Springs, CO, Dollar (4-1) has trained with TUF alums Cory Hill and Noah Thomas.
- Tom Hayden — Tom Hayden, 4-0, is a ground specialist who trains out of TUF 2 alum’s Jorge Gurgel camp in West Chester, OH.
- Waylon Lowe — Fighting out of Jorge Gurgel’s camp in Ohio, the 28-year-old Waylon Lowe owns a 5-2 mixed martial arts record.
- Josh Souder — A well-rounded fighter out of Team Prodigy in Ohio, the 5′ 7″ Josh Souder owns a 7-2 overall mixed martial arts record.
- Richie Whitson — Born and raised in Alaska, the heavy-handed Whitson holds a perfect 4-0 mixed martial arts record. He currently trains out of Temecula, CA with Team Quest.
Fighting to Represent the United Kingdom
- Dean Amarasinghe — Rough House Gym’s Dean Amarasinghe (4-1) is a 5′ 10″ grappler from Nottingham, England.
- James Bateman — 5′ 10″ striker James Bateman (2-1) trains with Grimsby NHB in Grimsby, England.
- David Faulkner — 5′ 9″ ground specialist David Faulkner trains with Wolfslair in Widnes, England. The 28-year-old born in Kirkby holds a 2-1 mixed martial arts record.
- Tommy Maguire — 20-year-old Tommy Maguire trains in Wisbech, England with Tsunami Gym. The 5′ 7″ stand-up fighter holds a 5-2 mixed martial arts record, with three wins coming via TKO.
- Che Mills — Born is Gloucester, England, 6′ 2″ welterweight Che Mills (7-2) trains with Mark Weir’s Range Fighting in the UK.
- Nicholas Osipczak — Sporting a perfect 3-0 record, Nicholas Osipczak trains in London, England with Pancrase UK.
- Alex Reid — Alexander Reid trains in London, England with the London Shoot Fighters. The 33-year-old stand up artist is 10-9-1 in his twenty mixed martial arts bouts.
- James Wilks — Born and raised in England, 30-year-old fighter James Wilks has trained with Eric Paulson in Orange County, California since 2000. The 6′ 1″ striker is 5-2 in his mixed martial arts career.
- James Bryan — Lightweight James Bryan (3-1) is a 25-year-old stand up fighter from Somerset, England.
- Dan James — Dan James, 3-0, is a stand up artist fighting out of Swansea, Wales. The 5′ 10″ fighter has won two of his fights by TKO.
- Gary Kelly — Wolfslair fighter Gary Kelly (2-1) is a 25-year-old striker from Liverpool, England.
- Jeff Lawson — 5′ 6″ lightweight Jess Lawson (13-2) trains with Team Bulldog out of Dorset, England.
- Ross Pearson — 24-year-old striker Ross Pearson (9-3) is a member of Sunderland Jiu-Jitsu & MMA Club in Sunderland, England.
- Martin Stapleton — Born in Manchester, England, 25-year-old Thai boxer Martin Stapleton (5-1) trains with Quannum Combat Arts.
- AJ Wenn — Cambs, England’s AJ Wenn is a well-rounded fighter training out of Tsunami Gym. The 24-year-old has a 7-2 mixed martial arts record.
- Andre Winner — Lightweight Andre Winner (9-2-1) trains out of Rough House in London, England.
During the six-week taping of “The Ultimate Fighter: United States Vs. United Kingdom,” these 16 men who survived the prelims endured a grueling regimen of jiu-jitsu, judo, muay thai, karate, boxing and wrestling. The intense competition between the fighters continues after they leave the gym – at The Ultimate Fighter House. These warriors must live together, knowing that any day they might be forced to fight each other in the famed UFC Octagon.
The two finalists will square off in a live finale Saturday, June 20 on Spike TV, when the two weight class winners will be declared “The Ultimate Fighter” and net the aforementioned contract and a cash prize. UFC President Dana White will once again serve as host of the series.