The 32-man cast for “The Ultimate Fighter Live” on FX was announced by the network Monday. The show will kick off with a two-and-a-half hour live premiere on March 9 at 9 p.m. ET. The diverse group of lightweight fighters was narrowed down from a field of 500 prospective entrants and includes competitors from the U.S., England, Northern Ireland and Brazil.
The 15th season of “TUF” introduces a new format that features live fights during the 13 consecutive weeks that the show airs. Previous installments of the popular reality program were taped months in advance over a six-week period. The show will conclude with a three-hour live finale on June 1, where the winner earns a six-figure contract with the UFC.
The premiere begins with 16 live fights on March 9, and that night’s winners will advance into “The Ultimate Fighter” house and be divided into two teams of eight, to be coached by UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and former World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight king Urijah Faber.
Cruz and Faber will square off in the UFC 148 main even on July 7 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It will be the third meeting between the two men: Cruz defeated “The California Kid” via unanimous decision at UFC 132; Faber submitted “The Dominator” with a guillotine choke at WEC 26 in 2007. Due to the live format of the show, at least part of their fight camps will likely take place during taping.
“We’re producing groundbreaking television with ‘The Ultimate Fighter Live,’ and we can’t wait to kick this season off with FX,” said UFC President Dana White in a release. “It’s going to be can’t-miss TV. Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber are two amazing guys who also happen to be two of the best fighters in the world. They genuinely dislike each other, and I expect this to make for the best season yet.”
As per the UFC’s deal with Fox Sports Media Group, there will be two 13-week seasons of “TUF Live” on FX for the next seven years, with the second season in 2012 expected to be televised sometime this summer.
The Ultimate Fighter Live on FX cast:
Akbarh Arreola -- Chula Vista , Calif.
Al Iaquinta -- Wantagh , N.Y.
Ali Maclean -- Belfast , North Ireland
Andy Ogle -- Tynemouth , England
Austin Lyons -- Cordova , Tenn.
Brendan Weafer -- New York , N.Y.
Chris Tickle -- Bloomington , Ill.
Cody Pfister -- Amarillo , Texas
Cristiano Marcello -- Curitiba , Brazil
Chase Hackett -- Littleton , Colo.
Chris Saunders -- Long Beach , Calif.
Dakota Cochrane -- Omaha , Neb.
Daron Cruickshank -- Wayne , Mich.
Drew Dober -- Omaha , Neb.
Erin Beach -- San Diego , Calif.
James Krause -- Blue Springs , Mo.
James Vick -- Fort Worth , Texas
Jared Carlsten -- Los Angeles , Calif.
Jeff Smith -- Mechanicsburg , Penn.
Jeremy Larsen -- Phoenix , Ariz.
Joe Proctor -- Pembroke , Mass.
John Cofer -- Hull , Ga.
Johnavan Vistante -- Pearl City , Hawaii
Jon Tuck -- Hagtna, Guam
Jordan Rinaldi -- Matthews, N.C.
Justin Lawrence -- Villa Ridge , Mo.
Mark Glover -- Liverpool , England
Michael Chiesa -- Spokane Valley , Wash.
Myles Jury -- San Diego , Calif.
Mike Rio -- Miami , Fla.
Sam Sicilia -- Spokane Valley , Wash.
Vinc Pichel -- Sherman Oaks, Calif.