A record number of athletes turned out on Monday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Chicago to try out for The Ultimate Fighter 9. Besting the previous record of about 500 in Florida for Season 5, according to Spike TV more than 700 fighters gathered in Chicago.

That number is in addition to the more than 200 respondents that swarmed the tryouts in London a week ago, giving Spike and the Ultimate Fighting Championship an ample number to choose from for Season 9.

The next edition of The Ultimate Fighter is slated to begin filming in January for a typical debut in April on Spike. The coming season will feature a Team U.S.A. vs. Team U.K. theme with Michael Bisping coaching the British contingent. The winner of the January bout between Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson at UFC 93 in Ireland is poised to head the U.S. team.

The UFC has gone away from its original plan to include middleweights as part of Season 9 -- likely due to a number of WEC middleweights likely to join the UFC fold with the dissolution of the division in the WEC -- and instead utilize welterweights and lightweights for its international battle.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.