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Dana White: ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ still the ‘greatest training ground ever for up and coming fighters’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

“The Ultimate Fighter” will soon make its return to the UFC airwaves.

The long running reality series that helped launch the careers of fighters like Forrest Griffin, Michael Bisping and Rashad Evans went on hiatus after the UFC’s television contract with FOX came to an end last year.

UFC president Dana White has promised that would revive the series once the new UFC Apex facility was opened in Las Vegas and now he’s moving towards that goal after meeting with executive producer Craig Piligian on Tuesday night.

“[Craig] Piligian and I are working on “The Ultimate Fighter” right now,” White revealed during a scrum with reporters following the latest episode of the Contender Series. “We’ll figure [the timeline for the return] tonight. They’re waiting for me for dinner right now.”

White has always been the strongest advocate for “The Ultimate Fighter” and he’s not backing down now with the show expected to get back into production in the near future.

While there may be some minor alterations in store for the show, White still believes that “The Ultimate Fighter” is a different kind of proving ground than any other format in the sport.

As much as he loves the ongoing “Contender Series”, White says that the UFC’s flagship reality show truly tests fighters in a way that no other scouting report could manage.

“We’re going to switch some things around, do some things different but I truly believe that “The Ultimate Fighter” is so key in building young talent,” White stated. “This show is fun and guys come in but what they have to go through with cameras in their face 24/7, being away from home, being away from their families and all the bulls—t, hardcore training everyday with these dream camps that are f—king built, cutting weight, staying on weight, you’ll never go through anything harder than “The Ultimate Fighter”.

“So if you can make it through “The Ultimate Fighter” and actually win it, if you go back throughout history and look at “The Ultimate Fighter” and the fighters that have come off their, it is just the greatest training ground ever for up and coming fighters. It can’t go away ever.”

As far as the notion that “The Ultimate Fighter” is no longer relevant now in the same way it was after first launching in 2006, White vehemently disagrees.

“It’s a big deal. When you come off “The Ultimate Fighter” everybody knows who the hell you are immediately,” White said. “When we just left FOX, the thing was still pulling big numbers. It was the highest rated show for original programming on FOX the entire seven years we were there.”

As far as where the new “Ultimate Fighter” will be broadcast, White says they are still working on that currently so it’s possible the reality series could air on UFC Fight Pass or perhaps become part of their overall deal with ESPN.

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