Cung Le hasn’t fought in a year, but he’s been busy as one of the UFC’s ambassadors in Asia.
Le, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion who was born in Vietnam, will serve an important role as mentor and chief coach of both teams during the inaugural The Ultimate Fighter: China, which debuts Dec. 7, the UFC announced Sunday.
The 16-fighter cast was revealed and the UFC’s first Chinese fighter, Tiequan Zhang, and Chinese MMA star Hailin Ao will act as the two coaches. The contestants will consist of eight featherweights and eight welterweights.
Breaking into this market is massive for the UFC as China has a population of 1.36 billion, which is more than 19 percent of the entire world’s population.
The inaugural The Ultimate Fighter: China is a ground-breaking program an is an unprecedented initiative for any global sports league in China, said Mark Fischer, the executive vice president and managing director of UFC Asia.
TUF: China will be distributed by Liaoning Satellite TV, which reaches more than 830 million viewers in the country, according to the UFC release. It has not been announced whether the show will be available for viewing outside of China.
The list 16 cast members were selected from more than 150 applicants and hail from China, the United States, Canada and Malaysia.
The competitors include:
Chong Allen Solomon, 31, Malaysia
Fu Changxin, 21, China
Lee Chunhan, 26, Chinese Taipei
He Jianwei, 24, China
Ning Guangyou, 32, China
Shih Liang, 35, United States
Yang Jianping, 25, China
Yao Zhikui, 22, China
Cheng Albert (Chang Kang), 27, Canada
Dong Xin, 21, China
Li Jinying, 26, China
Wang Anying, 22, China
Wang Sai, 27, China
Wu Qize, 25, China
Zhang Lipeng, 22, China
Zhu Qingxiang, 30, China