The Ultimate Fighter is set to make an aggressive expansion worldwide, and with that, several countries are in line to get their own version of the reality show.
Following the great success that TUF: Brazil saw, the UFC is licking their chops at the possibility of at least five international versions of the show. This is a nice changeup, as many fans have grown tired of the stale product in the United States. To be honest, the show has sucked the country dry of its young talent on the show.
One version of the show that I think would be very beneficial to the sport is TUF: Japan. The sport has been slumping there for a while now, as far back as when Pride was bought by the UFC.
Arguably, the regional scene in Japan has been dead for a while, as big stars have not ventured into the country. Sure, the country is home to names like Shinya Aoki, but remember a time when names like Wanderlei Silva, Quinton Jackson, Dan Henderson and Fedor Emelianenko graced Japanese cards on the regular?
Dream tried to pick up the pieces that Pride left behind, but as of recently they had to merge with One FC to stay alive. One promises to be the next big thing in MMA, but it won't be the next big thing in Japan. One FC is putting on cards in southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, which does not include Japan.
Maybe in the future One will go to Japan, but for now, they haven't made it there. That is where The Ultimate Fighter may come into play.
There is plenty of talent still in Japan, especially in the lower weight classes. Bantamweight and featherweight still need talent to fill out their divisions, and Japan could provide them with an influx of great fighters.
As for the dead scene in Japan, full-country exposure through a television deal could be the spark that reignites MMA in the land of the rising sun. There are plenty of fighters that Japanese fans can get behind to create a larger fanbase.
And just think about it, UFC 147 was the finale for TUF: Brazil. It gave the UFC an excuse to put on a card in Brazil, although they probably would have looked to do it anyway.
The UFC's return to Japan earlier this year was incredibly successful and brought back the mystique of Japanese crowds in MMA.
Given the opportunity, a Japanese version of the reality show would be very popular and help bring back the strength of Japanese MMA. Japan has the ability to provide much talent to the UFC, but it all starts with TUF.