Couture goes ‘home’ with new Spike TV deal

By BOB EMANUEL JR. | Scripps Howard News Service

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture has signed a multiyear deal with Spike TV and will be featured on two programs to debut later this year.

Couture, a member of the UFC’s Hall of Fame, will attempt to turn around struggling gyms in “MMA Rescue.” Couture will apply his expertise as owner of his own line of gyms — Xtreme Couture MMA.

The other project, “Fight Master: Bellator MMA,” has been the subject of much speculation over the past year. Couture will serve as one of four coaches that help train 32 fighters through a tournament, with the winner receiving $100,000 and a spot in a future Bellator welterweight tournament. Greg Jackson, Joe Warren and Frank Shamrock will also coach on the show.

“It’s an honor to be back with Spike (which was the original home of the UFC’s ‘The Ultimate Fighter’),” Couture said. “I feel like, in a lot of ways, it’s coming home. Spike, frankly, had the (courage) to put this on television when nobody else would, when everybody else was pushing back from the sport. In a lot of ways, that changed the landscape of MMA for the better. It gave people a behind-the-curtain look at what goes into being a fighter.”

“Fight Master” will pit the 32 fighters against one another, with the 16 winners advancing to the competition. The fighters will be seeded and will select which coach they will join to make up the four-man teams. The fighters, again in order of seeding, will then select their opponents, with the winner advancing. The loser will leave the show, which begins taping this month in Louisiana.

Bertram van Munster, Emmy-winning executive producer of CBS’ “The Amazing Race,” will produce the series, which will air its 10 episodes this summer.