His dream became a reality and his reality will become reality television tonight for Galesburg native and Quad City mixed martial artist Eric “Showtime” Shelton as The Ultimate Fighter 24: Tournament of Champions airs its first episode of the season tonight on Fox Sports 1. And having only been back home for just under three weeks, he is ready to make his television debut. “I’m more motivated at the gym as the show has gotten closer,” said Shelton. “I’m just excited for everyone to see it.”
An MMA standout in the Quad Cities and already being a champion under the Caged Aggression banner was why Shelton was chosen for the show. And for the first time in the show’s history, the UFC brought in sixteen champions from all over the world to compete for the Ultimate Fighter title with the winner getting a UFC title fight with current flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson at the end of the season. And being surrounded with big names like Joseph Benavidez and Henry Cejudo who are the coaches of this season along with numerous high profile names in MMA only reminded Shelton that this is where he belonged. “This experience for me is what I worked for,” explained Shelton. “It’s where I wanted to be, so it was a good feeling to be there with them.”
Living in house with champions from all around the world for six weeks, Shelton felt as though he brought in a certain level of confidence being from the Midwest. “I feel like we are tight knit down here and really family orientated,” Shelton said. “I get that from my friends and family being behind me.”
This being the show’s twenty-fourth season, Shelton understands why it’s still so popular with mixed martial arts fans worldwide. “It’s because people are getting more knowledgeable about the sport and sees what it really takes,” said Shelton. “This is the only show that shows it, so it’s good for us and it’s good for the fans.”
The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions airs tonight on Fox Sports 1 at 10pm ET.