Ryan (The Kid) McGillivray, who turned to mixed martial arts after a serious lacrosse injury, will carry the Canadian flag on Season 13 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Just 24, the Edmonton welterweight has an 11-4-1 record as a pro. He is one of 14 fighters in the cast of the reality TV show, which debuts March 30, according to Spike TV.
The fighters are vying for a contract to fight in the UFC. The show, which wraps up filming Tuesday in Las Vegas, will air for 10 episodes with the two finalists squaring off in a live finale June 4.
This season’s coaches are former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and Brazilian banger Junior Dos Santos. The two big men will also face off at the conclusion of the show, probably June 11 in Vancouver.
McGillivray trains and teaches at Legends Training Centre in Edmonton, which he co-owns with his father. He may fight for a living, but he’s no wild man, according to his dad.
“He has a young daughter and he spends most of his time with her,said Kevin McGillivray, Ryan’s father and standup coach. ”And he plays Xbox and he trains full time.“
“He’s not the stereotypical MMA guy, all tattooed up. He’s just a pretty level-headed kid,” he added.
Veteran UFC middleweight Jason (The Athlete) MacDonald remembers training with a teenage McGillivray.
“I’ve kind of seen him grow up into a man and grow up as a fighter,” MacDonald said from Red Deer.
“He started so young that I like to call him a seasoned veteran,” he added.
MacDonald says McGillivray can only benefit from the exposure of being on the TV show.
“If you make it on that show, it gets you in the eyes of everyone … anyone who has cable television. And especially the people that matter — the big fight promotions, obviously the UFC and (president) Dana White and then (matchmaker) Joe Silva.”
Kevin McGillivray says Ryan will probably also use any celebrity from being on the show to widen his practice of speaking to kids in school about physical fitness.
Originally from Prince George, B.C., Ryan McGillivray moved to Edmonton when he was 12. He played baseball, hockey and lacrosse growing up but was sidelined for the better part of a year after breaking his back playing lacrosse when he was 16.
After rehab, he turned to MMA as a new challenge and started training with MacDonald and former UFC fighter Victor Valimaki.
“He was eager to learn,” said MacDonald. “Obviously I was much more experienced than him and he took the good with the bad, he took getting beat up and roughed up every day and stuck with it. Obviously it’s paid off for him.”
His father says Ryan took to jiu-jitsu because it’s a thinking man’s sport.
A blue belt in jiu-jitsu, McGillivray finished eighth at the U.S. Open last October.
MacDonald calls McGillivray “incredibly tough” with lots of heart. He is also well-rounded.
“I think he’s a great submission guy but that being said, I think if you look at some of his fights, he’s had some standup battles as well. He’s a new age fighter, guys that are in their early 20s and have been doing mixed martial arts for five, six, seven years now and they’re true mixed martial artists.”
He has fought for the MFC and TFC in Edmonton.
“The Ultimate Fighter” cast members live together in a Las Vegas house, cut off from the outside world other than leaving to train and fight.
For Kevin McGillivray, that has been difficult.
“We’re a pretty tight family,” he said. “Every morning when he gets up, he calls me. And when I go to bed at night, I call him. So it’s been challenging for me, let me tell you that.”
Unlike recent seasons, the contestants did not have to win a fight just to make the final cast.
The fighters include German Nordin (Fist of Tangier) Asrih and England’s Michael (Mick) Bowman.
The others are Americans Shamar Bailey, Len (The Liger) Bentley, Keon (The Black Assassin) Caldwell, Chris (C-Murder) Cope, Zachary Davis, Anthony (El Cucuy) Ferguson, Clay Harvison, Myles (Fury) Jury, Ramsey Nijem, Charlie (Superstar) Rader, and Javier (Chunty Boy) Torres.
Ryan McGillivray attended tryouts in November in Las Vegas and then was summoned to the next round of cuts in December.
NOTES — Thursday’s UFC card in Louisville, Ky., will be broadcast south of the border in 3-D for the first time ever. But viewers in Canada on Rogers Sportsnet One will get the normal feed from the card at the KFC Yum! Center. The 3-D broadcast will have its own announcing team of Todd Harris and veteran fighter Kenny Florian. U.S. viewers will need 3-D-capable TV sets and dedicated 3-D channels.