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Record turnout for Chicago 'TUF' tryouts

The UFC and Spike TV will have their largest pool of fighters to choose for season nine of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality TV show.

Early estimates were that 700-1,000 martial artists showed up at today's open tryouts in Chicago. The final number according to Spike TV was 641 -- still the highest turnout for any season.

First was the grappling, then hitting the focus mitts, and finally an interview. For the contenders, the process lasted the entire day.

Today's tryouts was the second and final open tryouts for next season's "The Ultimate Fighter," which will feature a US vs. UK theme. Over 200 took part in the UK tryouts last week.

"The Ultimate Fighter 9: US vs. UK" will begin taping January 2009 for a season premiere in April. Middleweight Michael Bisping has already been confirmed as the head coach of the UK team. The victor of Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson at UFC 93 on January 17 could decide the coach for the US team.