When The Ultimate Fighter returns for its 29th season, it will have a pair of top featherweights as coaches. The top featherweights at the moment, in fact.
First reported by ESPN, the UFC has opted to give featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski, and the next title challenger, Brian Ortega, the nod as coaches on the show. The pair had been expected to fight at last weekend’s UFC 260 — but Volkanovski was forced off the card after contracting COVID-19.
Citing Dana White as the source of the news, the ESPN report noted that no date has been finalized for Volkanovski vs. Ortega, though it is expected to come at the end of the show. That could mean we’ll be waiting a while. No air date has been announced for TUF 29.
The last season of The Ultimate Fighter, TUF 28, aired in 2018, and featured the heavyweight and women’s featherweight divisions. Incredibly, not a single female featherweight wound up joining the UFC as a 145lb’er, as TUF champ Macy Chiasson dropped to bantamweight after winning the show. Only a handful of fighters, including heavyweight winner Juan Espino, and Maurice Greene, remain with the UFC.
TUF 29, meanwhile, is expected to feature fighters in the bantamweight and middleweight divisions. Previously, Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal had been linked to the show as coaches. However, they will instead meet at UFC 261 later this month.
The multi-year absence of The Ultimate Fighter has been the longest since its inception in 2005. The show has long been credited with saving the UFC, which was struggling financially at the time.