The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

August 28, 2013

Knoxville man makes "Ultimate Fighter" cast

KNOXVILLE — Lee Sandmeier of Knoxville survived rounds of tryouts and was selected from among 225 other competitors to be one of 16 fighters featured in the upcoming season of Fox Sports' "The Ultimate Fighter." 

Sandmeier, son of Tom and Paula Sandmeier, has been a professional fighter since 2009. His pro record is 9-0. 

With the encouragement of his manager, family and friends, he tried out in Las Vegas and is one of 16 men to be featured on the show. For the first time, the show will include men and women. 

Sandmeier told the Journal-Express that he cannot disclose much about the show or his time on it, due to confidentiality restrictions. What is noted on Fox Sports' website is that the producers believe he is "one of the most determined athletes to walk into a TUF try-out."

Sandmeier is legally deaf, with only 20 percent hearing in one year. He started out as a boxer, a sport in which he won Iowa's Golden Gloves competition and a USA Boxing title, before becoming a mixed martial arts fighter. 

On the show, which premieres Wednesday, Sept. 4, on Fox Sports One at 9 p.m., Sandmeier is trained by Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. At age 30, he is also the oldest male in the cast. The show has already completed filming. A live finale is planned for November. 

Meanwhile, Sandmeier is back in Knoxville, working the second shift at Pella Corporation. According to Sandmeier, most cable and dish subscribers in the area should have access to Fox Sports One. He added that Dingus Lounge is planning a viewing party of the show's premiere. Sandmeier said he plans to be at the bar for part of the show.

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