Monday's open tryouts for season nine of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) in Chicago, Illinois produced a record number of applicants after 700 amateur mixed martial artists stormed the Crowne Plaza Hotel in an attempt to prove their worth.
According to Spike TV, that number shatters the previous record of 500 hopefuls that turned out in Florida for season five.
Including the 200 aspiring fighters that auditioned in London on October 20, a total of 900 applicants will be considered for the 32-member cast, which will eventually be whittled down to 16 in the first few days of taping.
UFC President Dana White recently confirmed the participation of future coach Michael "The Count" Bisping, fresh off his unanimous decision victory over Chris Leben at UFC 89.
Bisping — TUF 3 winner and current British UFC posterboy — is a clear choice for the position, considering TUF 9 will be themed, "U.S. vs. U.K." White did not confirm the opposing coach, however, he did indicate that Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson are both under consideration.
Perhaps that decision will be made a little easier when "Ace" and "Hollywood" clash in the main event at UFC 93: "Dublin" on January 17.
Time will tell.
TUF 9 was originally set to feature a mix of middleweight and welterweight hopefuls competing for a "six figure" UFC contract in a tournament-style format.
However the 185lb weight class was recently scrapped in favor of lightweight in anticipation of the influx of middleweights that is expected to follow the dissolution of the middleweight division in the Zuffa-owned World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC).
The production schedule has not been revealed at this time; however, the promotion is targeting a January 2009 start (and April debut) in order to wait for the conclusion of Franklin vs. Henderson.
Stay tuned to MMAmania.com as more details become available for season nine of The Ultimate Fighter.