The fight promotion company Bellator along with television network Spike announced on Tuesday the details of their new and long-awaited reality series, Fight Master: Bellator MMA.
The new series will brandish serious star power with fighting icons Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock, Greg Jackson and Joe Warren, coaching 32 fighters through a tournament-style series, scheduled to debut this summer. The show will air in 10, one-hour episodes filmed in a New Orleans fighting compound where contestants will hone their skills with Couture, Shamrock, Jackson or Warren. The contestants --all welterweights -- will compete for a Bellator contract and a $100,000 grand prize. The show has been roughly a year in the making.
"One of the reasons it's taken us so long to get to this day is because. . . in addition to finding great coaches, was finding great fighters," Spike president Kevin Kay said during the Tuesday press conference unveiling the show. "The guy who wins this reality show is going into a tournament and is going to fight guys at the highest level of the sport. We need to have the best fighters. We spent a long time, looked at a lot of people, to get us where we are today."
Jackson, who will continue to train fighters in the UFC and with Bellator says, "This gives me, all of us, an opportunity to help these fighters, up-and-coming, that really work hard and deserve to have a place to showcase their skills. It's great that they have this place."
Fight Master won't feature the debauchery characteristic of many reality shows, says Spike's executive vice president of original programming, Sharon Levy. "It's not going to be a bunch of drunk guys running around acting like idiots," she says. "We wanted to give something for the die hard MMA fans but also create a show for the people who are coming to the sport, giving a much more robust, in-depth understanding of the sport is -- strategy, technique."
Eight-time Emmy winner Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri, the creative team behind The Amazing Race, will serve as executive producers of the show, who plan to cultivate the fighters as both people and athletes on the screen.
"What this all boils down to is these [fighters] having an opportunity," said Bellator chairman Bjorn Rebney. "It's about winning or moving on or losing and going home. You're not going to get voted back to this island. . .We're looking to find the next Pat Curran, the next Michael Chandler, the next Alexander Shlemenko."
Spike also announced it has signed Couture to a "multi-year creative partnership". The deal includes non-scripted television projects like Fight Master and another show, MMA Rescue, in which Couture helps transform struggling MMA gyms.