Wednesday, the Ultimate Fighting Championship officially revealed the 28 middleweight cast members competing on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show. Now in its 17th season, “The Ultimate Fighter” provides 28 mixed martial artists from around the world the opportunity to compete for a six-figure UFC contract and a spot on the UFC roster.
In season 17, the UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones coaches against light heavyweight contender Chael Sonnen in what’s being built as an epic showdown of MMA personalities. Sonnen, a man never lacking in personality — the quintessential wrestling heel — mixes it up with current light heavyweight champion Jones, whose polished persona leaves fans with a sour taste in their mouth.
However, Alaskans should be interested in TUF 17 for a different reason — one that hits closer to home. For the second season in a row, a fighter from Alaska will be represented within the show. This season Andy “Tank Mode” Enz — an Anchorage native and the Alaska Fighting Championship middleweight champion — is one of 28 individuals picked for this season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Last year, Nic Herron-Webb, the Alaska Fighting Championship welterweight champion, made the official TUF roster for season 16. In the elimination bouts Herron-Webb defeated Tim Ruberg via submission (arm-bar) in the first round to earn a spot in the TUF house. From there, Herron-Webb lost to Igor Araujo by unanimous decision in episode five leaving him with no chance to win the TUF title.
With a new season and a clean slate, Enz has an opportunity to make a splash within the MMA community and the UFC. The 21-year-old Enz has a professional record of 5-1. Three of his five wins have come against Rod Pucak, Tyler Milner and even Nic Herron-Webb — the former TUF 16 contestant — all within the AFC promotion. If “Tank Mode” can win impressively against his competition, it might open the door for more Alaska fighters to have an opportunity with bigger promotions.
The Ultimate Fighter 17 begins airing on Jan. 22 on FX network. Make sure to tune in each week to see just how far Alaska’s own Andy Enz can make it during this TUF season. For more information on Andy “Tank Mode” Enz, you can check out his fighter profile at AlaskaFighting.com, the official website of the Alaska Fighting Championship.
If you have a comment or thought on the TUF series, Alaska Fighting Championship or Andy Enz you can find me on Twitter at @scottlevesque.
Scott Levesque writes a weekly column for the Clarion on mixed martial arts. He will cover MMA at the local, state and national levels. His handle on Twitter is @scottlevesque.