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Gym may get reality show

Big John’s MMA academy will hold tryouts for program

Posted: February 12, 2009 1:58 a.m.
Updated: February 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Reality television might be coming to the Santa Clarita Valley’s athletic scene.

Beginning with this Sunday’s open tryouts at Big John McCarthy’s Ultimate Training Academy in Valencia, a production company will start filming a new series focused on the lives of members of mixed martial arts club that train in McCarthy’s gym.

“We were approached about a year ago about doing the show,” said head coach of the team Brian Peterson. “It’s going to be different than anything else out there about MMA because the show is going to focus on the fighters’ lives and their families.”

Peterson chose not to reveal the production company because a deal hasn’t been finalized.

The possibility of landing a spot on television has drummed up more interest for the tryouts than usual.

Generally, McCarthy and Peterson get 10 to 12 hopefuls for a given grueling grasp at working with respected people in mixed martial arts. But for Sunday’s shot at a small screen career, 30 to 40 fighters will probably be at the gym by 8 a.m to register and do interviews before a six-hour workout.

“There is going to be a lot of puking,” Peterson said of the brutal day of exercise and fighting scheduled for Sunday. “Everybody who tries out is really going to be tested.”

Peterson said generally about a quarter of fighters who try out make the team, and of those that do get the opportunity to train, roughly half drop off the team shortly after.

“The whole purpose of doing this show is really why we do most everything here,” McCarthy said. “We want to help expand the sport. Also, this is a chance to show people that the preconceptions they may have about fighters aren’t necessarily true. These people are just like any athlete. They do this because it’s a sport that they love and they thrive off competing.”

There are still several question marks about the format of the show, but currently the plan is to focus on roughly a half-dozen characters that practice in McCarthy’s Valencia gym. Currently, there are seven men on the team, but Sunday’s tryout, which fighters from as far away as Alaska have already signed up for, figures to produce several more members.

“We’re not looking at it like there’s a number we are planning to accept,” Peterson said. “If 20 people come in and show us they deserve to be here, then we’ll accept 20 people.”

McCarthy, arguably the best known official in Ultimate Fighting Championship history, figures to be a major draw for the show, but he’s quick to point out that the show won’t focus on him.

“I want this to be just about the sport and the fighters who dedicate themselves to it,” McCarthy said. “A lot of people fear a fight or don’t understand why someone would get involved in mixed martial arts. We train our guys hundreds of thousands of times how to do the moves they use before we let them go out and get in a real match.”

The public will get its first shot to watch the fighters attempting to start the climb towards professional mixed martial arts on Sunday since the tryouts are open to the public.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that a lot of the fighters who train here have never actually been in a fight that isn’t organized,” McCarthy said. “I think a lot of people have the whole ‘Raging Bull’ stereotype of a fighter in their heads, but that’s just not true about a lot of these guys. This show will hopefully be a good example of what we do.”


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