An Olympia woman is part of the first all-female cast on the Fox Sports reality TV show “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Lisa Ellis will compete in the show’s 20th season, which begins Sept. 10 on the Fox Sports 1 channel. The show features 16 mixed martial arts fighters who will compete to become the UFC’s first 115-pound female division champion. The show ends with a match Dec. 12 in Las Vegas.
Ellis, 31, started her fighting career with kickboxing, and has been fighting professionally for about 10 years.
“I’m an old bag. I’ve been doing this a while,” Ellis said Friday from New York, where she and the other contestants are promoting the show.
Her husband, Eddy Ellis, is also a mixed martial arts fighter who has appeared on the show. The couple own United Training Center at 7619 Martin Way E. in Hawks Prairie and have a 1-year-old daughter.
Ellis said she had taken a break from competing in mixed martial arts after their daughter arrived, but eventually pursued a spot on “The Ultimate Fighter” with her husband’s encouragement.
“He told me, ‘You’re a pioneer of the sport. Help pave the way for these girls,’ ” she said. The couple has a goal of becoming the first husband and wife on a pro fight card.
As for her experience on the show, Ellis said it was hard being away from her family for seven weeks, even though she was staying in a Las Vegas mansion. She also was disappointed in some of the bullying and drama among fellow contestants at the mansion.
“I still got to meet a great group of girls,” she said. “UFC is the top of the top. This is where you need to be fighting.”
Maura Welp, UFC public relations coordinator, said the show’s first all-female cast was formed because of the new 115-pound division. Contestants are not allowed to compete elsewhere during the show’s airing, nor can they reveal the results beforehand.
“This is the first time a cast member is competing for the belt,” Welp said. “The show’s winner will be the new champion.”