The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Four Canadians head to Vegas for final 'Ultimate Fighter' casting
Four Canadians have made it to the final round of casting for Season 10 of "The Ultimate Fighter."
The quartet includes Edmonton's Luke Harris and Nick Hinchliffe of Nanaimo, B.C., who survived an open casting call last Monday in Seattle. The reality TV show's producers did not confirm the other Canadians.
The Canadians will join some 70 to 80 other candidates Monday and Tuesday in Las Vegas for the final round of auditions. They will be trimmed to 32 who will take part in the televised elimination fights to see which 16 make up the final cast.
The Seattle casting call drew some 200 candidates - with 25 to 30 from Canada - who were cut to 50 or 60 after the grappling, striking and interview sessions. Not all of the fighters had to go through the open casting call as some got a direct invite to the Vegas final casting.
"There were some really good guys here," Hinchliffe said of the Seattle tryouts. "When you walk into the room, everyone is kind of eyeballing everybody. You can cut the testosterone with a knife."
UFC matchmaker Joe Silva and TUF producers were on hand to whittle down the numbers in a hotel ballroom as middleweight and light-heavyweight hopefuls looked to impress.
"It's go time, you have two minutes to grapple and about 60 seconds of hitting the hand pads, you've got to lay it all out," said Hinchliffe, a 25-year-old middleweight from Nanaimo, B.C
A sheet metal worker, Hinchliffe (11-4) sees cracking "The Ultimate Fighter" cast as the first step to making MMA a full-time gig. He fights for the King of the Cage promotion, mainly in Western Canada.
Harris (3-1) flew down with three fellow fighters from Edmonton.
The 31-year-old judo black belt, who owns a gym called the Hayabusa Training Centre in St. Albert, got off to a good start in the grappling drill.
"I actually submitted the guy four times," said the King of The Cage middleweight title-holder, who also auditioned last year in Boston for Season 8.
Mike Hackert (1-0) drove down by himself from Campbell River, B.C., and made past the grappling and striking sessions to the interview stage, but did not get an invitation to Las Vegas for the final casting.
The 21-year-old knew he was a longshot.
"I think the most intimidating part was I didn't know anybody and everybody seemed to know or have some idea who each other was," said Hackert, who has been competing for almost two years and attends North Island College.
Former NFL defensive lineman Marcus Jones and Rex Richards, who played Arena Football, also made it through the Seattle auditions.
Filming starts in May.
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