Live from the floor at the UFC Fan Expo, Spike and the UFC officially announced the full cast for The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights, which premieres September 16. Hit the jump for details and exclusive video footage.
Among tons of other cool stuff at the Expo, the UFC is hosting an autograph session with the cast members, so be sure to check back later for all of Spike.com's coverage with the fighters, the fans and of course, the Octagon Girls.
But for now, let's get to business. The talent level this season is higher than ever before and the personalities are, well, heavyweight. From ex-NFL stars to MMA champions and a street fighting phenomenon, the house may literally explode this season (ed. Note: not literally), but it promises to make for some damn good television.
Without further ado:
Zak Jenson - standout wrestler at Augsburg College
Marcus Jones - former 1st round NFL draft pick who had a six-year career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Scott Junk - Division II All-American football player at Southwest Oklahoma State and fought in UFC 76.
James McSweeney - former international kickboxing and Muay Thai champion
John Madsen - defeated Brock Lesnar in a high school wrestling match
Matt Mitrione - played for New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings
Roy Nelson - former IFL Heavyweight Champion
Demico Rogers - high school football and wrestling star
Brendan Schaub - played for Buffalo Bills and Arena Football's Utah Blaze
Darrill Schoonover - decorated Army veteran
Wes Shivers - former member of the Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons
Wes Sims- fought two heated battles with former UFC champ Frank Mir at UFC 43 and UFC 46
Kimbo Slice - former EliteXC heavyweight contender and YouTube sensation
Abe Wagner - played linebacker at Michigan Tech and has a degree in mechanical engineering
Mike Wessel - UFC veteran and former strength and conditioning coach at University of Arkansas
Justin Wren - high school All-American wrestler
Here is a special preview of whats to come for this season:
There are some seriously interesting selections here and immediately standing out among them is Roy Nelson. The former champion could be the most over-qualified fighter to ever enter the house and has to be the odds-on favorite to win this season. He's got a major experience advantage over most of the other guys -he's fought in big matches, on live TV, in front of large crowds. The only others who can really claim the same thing are Wes Sims and Kimbo Slice, but Nelson's resume is still considerably more impressive if you take into account caliber of opponent and timeframe. Nelson was considered one of the top 10 heavyweights in the world before his consecutive losses to Andrei Arlovski and Jeff Monson, but he's still a dangerous striker with deceivingly good jiu Jitsu so he should be walking in as the fighter to beat this season.
Photo Source: Al Bello/Getty Images
With that said, there will still be some stiff competition. Wes Sims, for example, he's one of those guys with a real heavyweight personality to go with his 260-pound frame. He too sports a long fight resume and is no stranger to the Octagon (though he lost all three of his UFC appearances), but he's probably best known for his controversial fight with Frank Mir at UFC 43, where Sims was disqualified for repeatedly stomping the head of the current interim champion. Mir was granted a rematch in his very next fight and scored a knockout over his then newly-acquired rival. Sims also boasts fights with legends like Tim Silvia, Dan Severn, Kimo Leopoldo and Travis Fulton (who, on a side note, is best known for having almost 250 fights, which is weird). You can bet that Sims will not be intimidated by Nelson or anyone else. Even more so, he won't be shy about expressing it.
There's not much to say about Kimbo Slice right now that the world doesn't already know. He's definitely the one with something to prove and it will be extremely interesting to see how he handles the pressure. Dana White called him out a long time ago, saying Slice would be welcome to tryout TUF but that he had zero chance of actually winning. I wasn't giving him much of a chance myself (and I still think it's a long shot) but he seems to be taking this seriously so far and is displaying more maturity than expected, so we'll see.
Mike Wessel represents the third and final fighter with UFC cred. He had his shot in the Octagon at UFC 92, a loss against Antoni Hardonk, so he'll be looking for a second chance.
John Madsen is one of the few men on this planet who can claim to have beaten Brock Lesnar at anything. Of course, it was a high school wrestling match, so it doesn't really mean anything but it's still kind of interesting and could add some extra spice to any future fights with The Beast.
To hold you over until we can get the rest of our footage from the Expo up on the internet tubes, turn on your flux capacitor and check out this exclusive interview with Demico Rogers from the tryouts in Seattle earlier this year. And just for giggles, we've got some clips of a few who tried and didn't make it. Enjoy.