Considering the huge success that it was in America, I’m amazed that Japan didn’t jump all over the Ultimate Fighter formula years ago. For promotions that can’t seem to figure out a way to build new stars, the format is a no-brainer. So 4 years after the US MMA scene was completely changed by TUF, someone is finally taking the idea and converting it for their own use:
Dubbed “Project: Gold Rush,” Sengoku initially aims to cultivate up-and-coming fighters within three weight classes: 60, 65 and 70 kg (132, 143, 154 pounds). In the vein of Sengoku’s open tryouts and a natural extension of its fighter development program (of which Shigeki Osawa and Maximo Blanco are current products), the show is intended to foster the development of young fighters.
Featuring four to five handpicked fighters per weight class from various Japanese gyms, the young talents will fight each other over the course of four to five episodes. The finals in each weight class will be slotted as preliminary bouts on the Aug. 2 Sengoku Ninth Battle.
While Kokuho doesn’t plan to copy the TUF formula completely by locking all the fighters in one house to film the ensuing shenanigans, the fights will be taped without a live audience. Kokuho also plans to explore some of the human drama with “behind the scenes footage” of fighters in daily life and training, while also implementing the time-honored but ever-entertaining “gym-versus-gym” angle.
I’m not all that familiar with Japanese television, so I might be skewed by this site into thinking it’s something it’s not. To me it seems like the more out there the situations are, the more people tune in. I know Sengoku is trying to be all high brow compared to DREAM’s “Will people watch if we rape MMA?” attitude, but I started to snore halfway through Sherdog’s description of this show. They might have taken the basic concept of TUF but they’ve forgotten about everything that made it a huge success.