As expected, the UFC's third international version of "The Ultimate Fighter" will debut next year.
UFC officials today announced that the promotion has partnered with India's SONY SIX to produce "The Ultimate Fighter: India," which will air on the channel in 2013.
"We are very excited to partner with SIX as the UFC expands into India," UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta stated. "We look forward to working with them to not only further expand the UFC's fanbase [in India] but also to find and develop local talent and, ultimately, bring regular live events to India."
SIX, which was launched earlier this year, is already home to UFC programming in India and airs live events and specialty programming such "Countdown,' "Primetime" and "UFC Unleashed."
SIX executives hope the new series will further expand their audience.
"We are delighted to bring the UFC – the fastest growing sports organization in the world – to India," Man Jit Singh, the CEO of SIX's parent company Multi Screen Media, stated. "India has a lot of appetite for new sports, and we are confident that SIX will skew younger audiences with the special programming of the Ultimate fighting Championship on the channel."
"The Ultimate Fighter: India" follows "The Ultimate Fighter: Australia vs. U.K." and "TUF: Brazil" as the third international edition of the long-running reality series. Broadcasting and casting details are expected to be announced shortly. The UFC has high hopes for the series and its ability to help develop the sport in India, the world's second most-popolous country with more than 1.2 billion residents.
"SIX's willingness to step up and commit to 'The Ultimate Fighter: India' was very important to us," Fertitta said. "'TUF: India' will help to introduce the sport in India, to showcase the hard work, dedication, athleticism and skills needed to compete in the UFC. It will also cast a spotlight throughout the country, searching for the most talented local martial artists.
"The UFC will be successful in India even without local stars, but what we've seen around the world is fans really want to see one of their own get a chance to compete at the highest level. Somewhere out there in a country of 1.2 billion there is an Indian champion, someone who will capture the imagination of the fans and help take the sport to a whole new level."
For more on "The Ultimate Fighter: India," stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
'The Ultimate Fighter: India' official for 2013 debut