ULTIMATE FIGHTER

LOCAL Mixed Martial Arts star Norman Parke has received a major boost to his career after he was selected for the UK for the forthcoming series of The Ultimate Fighter.

The Bushmills man is one of eight MMA stars from the UK who will take on their Australian counterparts in the televised The Ultimate Fighter: Australia vs UK – The Smashes.

Despite only being 25, Parke is a well-known and respected fighter having competed locally in organisations such as Cage Contender and Immortal Fighting Championships.

His impressive 15-2 record boasts wins over Ali Maclean, who narrowly missed out on a place on last year’s TUF series, and most recently a KO against Stephen Coll in May of this year.

He is tipped to go far in this series and if he succeeds in gaining that highly coveted UFC contract, it would surely give a little hope to all local fighters that their hard work and dedication to the sport could prove fruitful in the long-run.

The Ultimate Fighter finalists are among the top fighters in both nations’ lightweight and welterweight divisions.

“These guys have definitely made the second international TUF show ‘can’t miss’ TV,” said UFC President Dana White.

“Going into this thing, I had no idea just how much the Aussies and the Brits can’t stand losing to each other. Now I know.”

The 13-episode, Australian-produced series, which begins next Wednesday, September 19th, follows the selected fighters as they live together in The Ultimate Fighter house, training and competing against each other for a prized contract with the UFC®, culminating with a live three-hour finale in December.

The Australian team will be led by George Sotiropoulos, while the UK line-up will be headed up by Ross Pearson both alumni of The Ultimate Fighter television series in the Unites States – will also go head-to-head in the Octagon at the live finale.

British coach Ross Pearson is confident about Team UK’s chances: “Having been where they are, I know exactly what the guys are facing. They’re taking it all in their stride and, despite being so far from home, they’re eager to prove themselves, so morale is high. They each bring unique strengths to the team so the sparks are really going to fly when they meet the Aussies in the Octagon.”

This is only the second time in TUF’s seven-year history that teams will represent their country of origin, the first taking place in 2009 when Team USA took on Team UK.

The show looks set to be available in the UK via ESPN.

STORY: STEVEN CRAWFORD