Two new seasons of the UFC's iconic show The Ultimate Fighter are on the way. An international version, featuring Brits and Aussies titled "The Smashes" will feature former TUF alums George Sotiropoulos and Ross Pearson as coaches. The name is apparently a play on a 130-year-old cricket rivalry. This season will feature lightweights and welterweights.
Also announced is the standard U.S. version which will feature welterweights. The coaches will be former TUF alum Roy Nelson and fellow heavyweight Shane Carwin.
When it comes to weight classes, I think "The Smashes" holds more promise. By now, MMA is so popular that most of the really talented fighters have found their way to the UFC or other large promotions without going the reality TV route.
The most recent welterweight winner was Tony Ferguson, with the runner up being Ramsey Nijem on TUF 13. Before TUF: Live, the most recent lightweight winner was Jonathan Brookins, with the runner up being Michael Johnson on TUF 12.
It's safe to say that these aren't exactly household names yet, but the reason that I believe "The Smashes" holds more promise is because there is potentially more undiscovered talent in the U.K. and in Australia than in the U.S.
Now when it comes to coaches and overall premise, I'm much more looking forward to the U.S. version of the show. The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom was probably my least favorite of all the TUF seasons. The rivalry between the coaches was good (Henderson vs. Bisping) but I found the rivalry between the two teams to be lacking, as well as the cast just overall lacking much personality.
Interestingly enough, new coach Ross Pearson was one of the winners of this season. He's grown on me as a fighter since his days on the show, but I still can't say I'm truly a fan. However, I am a fan of fellow coach George Sotiropolous. What's funny is that his no-nonsense attitude is what I found to be endearing during his time on the show (Season 6).
Roy Nelson is an obvious fan favorite, although I didn't find him very likeable during his time as a cast member on the show (Season 10). He seemed to think too highly of himself, and didn't fully believe in the coaching staff. I felt his performances weren't very impressive, but he still managed to win the season pretty handily.
He doesn't seem to take anything too seriously (including himself) so it will be interesting to see how he interacts with Shane Carwin, who seems like a pretty serious dude.
I also think the American coaches pose a more interesting matchup. It'll be interesting to see Carwin back in action after a long layoff.
So, overall, "The Smashes" seems to offer something a little more fresh, while the tried and true U.S. version offers an intriguing coaching matchup. In terms of overall impact, "The Smashes" has more potential in creating stars and expanding the UFC's brand overseas.