As the series' record-smashing tenth edition The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights, featuring "Kimbo Slice" (4-1), began winding to a close, the UFC realized they would need to do something pretty big to maintain that momentum. At that time, they teased they would tweak the format of the show to keep things fresh.
Today the UFC announced that TUF 11 will feature twenty-eight middleweight competitors. As any March Madness fan will tell you, twenty-eight is not a number that lends itself readily to a bracket-style tournament. It's obvious that Zuffa is concocting some kind of double elimination, losers' bracket, or bye system, but the actual format will not be released until the show debuts on March, 31st.
MMAJunkie.com is suggesting that some of the veterans who have tried out this season, including Bobby Southworth (9-6 [pictured above]), Nick Thompson (38-12-1), and Logan Clark (11-4), may get a bye to a later round, which makes a lot of sense.
In the name of rampant speculation, B.C. MMA Fan suggests the sixteen least experienced middleweights on TUF 11 should compete in a sixteen-man first round and an eight-man second round. From that original sixteen, only the four best of the MMA newcomers would remain. Then, if UFC injected the other twelve more experienced fighters into the bracket, TUF 11 would be back up to a sixteen-man tournament format. The fighters who received a bye could even enter completely unannounced to surprise the four remaining fighters who, by now, would naturally have assumed they were TUF 11 semi-finalists.
Though unusually cruel, that could produce the best reality TV moment since that chick found out Joe Millionaire was actually a construction worker. Then again, that's just one possibility. We'll have to wait at least until Chuck Liddell (21-7) and Tito Ortiz (15-7-1) begin working their coaching magic on March 31st to learn the real format.