Since its premier on June 19th, Bellator’s new reality show, “Fight Master” has had the MMA community buzzing.  The television program is basically Viacom’s response to the successful UFC franchise, “The Ultimate Fighter”.  The shows share similarities but are refreshingly different.

TUF has incorporated several changes over the years, but those of us that have followed the show are accustomed to the same basic format.  There is a qualifying round where the winners of qualifying fights are invited to live in and train out of a home for the duration of the show, while the losers get their walking papers. Dipping into the pool of those remaining, two head coaches alternate selecting fighters who they see the most potential in.  These fighters will comprise the coaches’ team, and will compete against the other team in a single elimination tournament with a wildcard round for two fighters who have lost.  The winner of the tournament receives a six-figure UFC contract.

Fight Master differs from the traditional format in several ways.  The first, being the number of teams involved.  TUF and Fight Master both incorporate a 16 man tournament after the qualifying round, but Fight Master has divided the contest into four separate teams, rather than two.  As simple division would show, each team consists of four fighters with a head coach who brings in their own staff.

Bellator has put together an impressive group of coaches for the contest.  The coaches include Frank Shamrock, Randy Couture, Joe Warren, and Greg Jackson.  While TUF has always incorporated active fighters as coaches, Fight Master currently employs two retired fighters, one active fighter, and one world renowned coach.

The selection process in Fight Master might be the most catalyzing difference between the two reality shows.  During the preliminary round, fighters actually choose their own coach.  The winners are brought in front of the judging panel and ask questions to the coaches.  The coaches may attempt to deflect fighters they aren’t particularly impressed with towards other teams, but the choice is ultimately made by the fighter.  Once a coach has been chosen by four fighters, the team is considered full, and may no longer accept additional team members.

The winner of the Fight Master competition is granted a spot in Bellator’s fall welterweight tournament.  If you’re familiar with the Bellator organization, its structure is different than the UFC’s because it utilizes a tournament format to anoint a #1 contender.  The tournament winner goes on to face the current champion of their respective weight class.

Currently airing, the third episode of Fight Master, and final qualifying fights took place on July 10th.  It remains to be seen what future differences the show will incorporate, so be sure to check out Fight Master.  It airs Wednesday nights on Spike, 10pm EST, with previous episodes aired during the hours before.  It’s worth it, if not only for the fights, but for Frank Shamrock’s social awkwardness.

Mica Koefod Staff Writer

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