FORMER Wingham boy Sam Bastin starts try outs today in Sydney that he hopes will result in him earning a start in the reality TV series Ultimate Fighter.
Bastin, 22, is based at Port Macquarie these days, moving for work and to be closer to his training base. The mixed martial arts fighter will be one of up to 70 hopefuls trying to secure a spot on the series, which will be billed as an Australia/Canada challenge.
Bastin was contacted by the series last week.
"It was a big surprise,'' he said.
He had unsuccessfully applied for a previous incarnation of the reality show but hadn't given up hope of eventually getting a start.
There'll be two weight divisions - 77kg and 84kg. Bastin will fight at 77 and explained that he's had to jump a division.
"I usually fight at 70,'' he said.
This will have advantages and disadvantages, he admits.
"They'll be bigger and stronger than me,'' he said.
"But I'll be faster and more agile.''
Today's session will involve ju-jitsu, wrestling and grappling along with pad drills. He'll also have to undergo an on-camera interview.
"They'll let us know if we've made the next stage after Wednesday,'' he explained.
Should that be the case Bastin will be in Sydney for two more days.
Eventually four fighters in each division will make it through to the series, with filming to start in Sydney later in the year.
Bastin likes his chances.
"They've asked me to come down and try out, so that's good,'' he said.
If he makes the grade Bastin will go into camp for filming for six weeks.
"We'll be cut off from the outside world - no internet, we won't be able to use our mobile phones - completely isolated,'' he said.
"For six weeks we'll train, eat, sleep and compete against the guys from Canada.''
Should he win there Bastin would earn a start on the UFC (Ultimate Fight Championship) program to be held in Sydney. And it would also open the way for Bastin to fight in America. That's his goal.
Bastin's had 11 professional mixed martial arts bouts.
His record isn't overwhelming - five wins and six losses.
"But I've always fought quality opponents,'' he explains.
"I haven't had any easy fights. I've fought the best in Australia. Other people fight nobodies just to make their record look good.''
Bastin's been a fighter for as long as he can remember.
He started kung fu when he was seven and boxed for a while out of Taree PCYC, before getting involved in mixed martial arts about three years ago.
Getting a start with the Ultimate Fighter would be an enormous boost to his career.
"I can't wait,'' he said just before leaving for Sydney.