TUF: The Ultimate Flattery.
If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then UFC President Dana White has to feel pretty good about himself.
On the heels of the announcement that WEC is planning a 2009 reality show, Sherdog.com is reporting that ESPN Deportes is partnering with Bellator Fighting Championships to produce a 12-week MMA reality series featuring four eight-man tournaments from the featherweight, lightweight, welterweight and middleweight divisions.
ESPN Deportes is the all-Spanish version of ESPN and as such will focus on fighters of Hispanic origin for its upcoming series, set to air as early as April 2009. Already being courted are popular Hispanic fighters Jorge Masvidal and Eddie Alvarez.
How successful the show will be is of course impossible to predict. M-1 and Affliction will debut "Fighting Fedor" at some point in 2009 as well as the aforementioned WEC show, but ESPN Deportes is targeting a more specific audience, perhaps to test the waters in a smaller market to gauge the worth of future, more expensive MMA projects.
From that standpoint, it should have to worry less about competition and more about quality fights. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if they're off to the best start.
Bellator Fighting Championships is run by former CEO and president of Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing Bjorn Rebney. I don't want to pass judgement right away, but the track record of boxing promoters in mixed martial arts is not a very good one.
Just ask Gary Shaw.