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There could be a major opportunity on the horizon for Ireland's UFC hopefuls

The Ultimate Fighter is coming to Europe this year.

Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE ULTIMATE FIGHTING Championship is bringing a series of The Ultimate Fighter, the organisation’s reality TV show, to Europe later this year.

That’s according to Dubliner Dave Allen — the UFC’s senior vice-president and general manager for the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region — who revealed the plans today in an exclusive interview with The Sun’s Simon Head.

Geared towards uncovering the next batch of UFC stars, TUF was first broadcast in 2005 and its 21st US season will air later this month.

Five of Ireland’s eight current UFC athletes featured on The Ultimate Fighter before they eventually made it to the UFC, including Norman Parke, who won ‘The Smashes’ series of the show in December 2012.

The introduction of TUF ten years ago was seen as a major turning point for the subsequent growth and success of the UFC, but the show has been heavily criticised recently, with many fans viewing it as a stale and out-dated concept.

However, Dave Allen says the organisation is on the verge of signing a deal with a major broadcaster to bring a season of TUF to the EMEA market for the first time, which could be an exciting development for some of Ireland’s top mixed martial arts prospects.

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According to Simon Head’s report — which you can read in full here — the UFC are hoping to conduct pre-season tryouts towards the end of this summer, with filming set to commence in the final quarter of 2015.

UFC Fight Night - Dublin Antrim's Norman Parke is a previous winner of a season of The Ultimate Fighter. Source: Brian Lawless

There’s no mention of which weight divisions will feature, but the news is sure to attract the attention of Irish fighters such as Alan Philpott, Artem Lobov, Tommy McCafferty, Peter Queally and Philip Mulpeter, all of whom have UFC aspirations having made a good impression on the European regional circuit.

The report also suggests that although the exact details of the show’s format are still to be revealed, this EMEA season of TUF ‘could be set to re-ignite one of the biggest rivalries in the world of sport’.

That indicates that another nation-versus-nation format is likely. In the past, The Ultimate Fighter has featured UK versus USA, Canada versus Australia and UK versus Australia seasons. Regardless of the format, fans here will be hoping that there’s room for some Irish involvement.

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Paul Dollery

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