The UFC announced the return of the much loved reality fight show ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ would return for a 29th season after a two year hiatus. The show last aired in 2018 with coaches Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum ruling the roost over a batch of heavyweights and women’s featherweights, with Juan Espino and Macy Chiasson winning respectively.
As the promotion gears up for another run with the popular series, confirmed for March 2021 and involving both bantamweights and middleweights, attention quickly turned to who would be coaching the next crop of UFC hopefuls. Here are a few possible coaching duos that could face off with each other on the show, and would also make an intriguing matchup for the finale.
Israel Adesanya vs Jan Blachowicz
A matchup recently confirmed to be in the works for early next year, middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (20-0) vs light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz (27-8) is a very interesting bout that could see the popular and charismatic Adesanya leave the cage as the latest UFC ‘champ champ’. One of the biggest stars in the sport today, a stint coaching on TUF would only serve to raise his profile further and a victory against the aforementioned Blachowicz would pave the way for a blockbuster super fight with light heavyweight GOAT Jon Jones, a rivalry that has potential do huge numbers. With two polar opposite characters, fighters and teams, this one has the potential to be extremely entertaining.
Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega
After his highly impressive masterclass against the Korean Zombie on Fight Island, Brian Ortega (15-1 1NC) all but confirmed his position as the number one contender in the 145 lbs division, despite taking two years off following his title fight heartbreak to Max Holloway. Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) wrestled the title from Holloway’s grasp and then defeated him again in the rematch to confirm his place atop the division. Ortega is very popular with both the fans and the media and the reinvention of his game following his first professional loss is something young fighters should look up to, and with a mouth watering clash with Volkanovski on the horizon this is another interesting option on the table.
Colby Covington vs Jorge Masvidal
This one seems a natural choice as Colby Covington (16-2) and Jorge Masvidal (35-14) have all the ingredients to make a legendary season. Two of the most visible fighters in the promotion with legitimate cross over appeal, not to mention their friends turned enemies style feud, makes this potentially one of the biggest fights the company can make. Add in an enhanced build up with a stint coaching on TUF and this has the potential to be big business for the UFC. The two are both compelling characters and have a legion of fans behind them, and with the potential for this one to crown the next man in line for welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, who already holds wins over both men.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Georges St-Pierre
This fight seemed dead in the water after Khabib retired following his dominant victory over Justin Gaethje on Fight Island, but with rumours already surfacing that he may be having second thoughts in order to reach his fathers dream of 30-0, it wouldn’t be a huge shock if he returned for one more. It is already common knowledge that Khabib was offered a place coaching on The Ultimate Fighter opposite Conor McGregor, an offer he declined, so there’s obviously some interest in having Khabib on the show. St-Pierre has already been a coach on the show back in 2010 and having teased another comeback four years after his successful middleweight title fight with Michael Bisping, is thought to be the frontrunner if Khabib decides to fight again. Two legends of the fight game, this one may lack in the trash talking department, but will more than make up for that in other areas.