July 15, 2017
For the second time in the show's 26-season history, a new weight class will be introduced on the upcoming season of "The Ultimate Fighter." Also for the second time, it will feature a group of female fighters who will be vying for that newly opened division, women's flyweight (125 pounds) – not to mention the UFC contract that comes along with winning the competition.
While the fighters are largely unknowns, the coaches are not.
One is former UFC lightweight champion and Philly native Eddie Alvarez. The other is fellow lightweight and 6th-ranked contender Justin Gaethje (18-0). UFC has not made an official announcement as of yet, but Dana White has since confirmed what PhillyVoice has been hearing for a couple days, that Alvarez and Gaethje will coach the upcoming season of TUF.
The two are friends outside the octagon, so it should be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out as they each try to coach their team to a title.
They're also expected to square off in the octagon – that's typically how it works when both TUF coaches are from the same weight class – but again, no announcement has been made at this point. That the two will fight seems to be a foregone conclusion among industry insiders, and the only remaining questions is a matter of when.
Alvarez, 33, and Gaethje, 28, could fight during the TUF finale card, but given that Alvarez is a former champ and the two make for a pretty attractive matchup, there's a chance their bout could find its way to a bigger card, perhaps even a pay-per-view.
After knocking out Rafael dos Anjos to claim the lightweight title last summer, Alvarez lost to Conor McGregor by second round TKO at UFC 205 in November. Then, at UFC 211 in May, he fought Dustin Poirier to a controversial (but incredibly entertaining) no-contest, one that some believed was worthy of a disqualification for the former champ. It seems their rematch will have to be put on hold for the time being.
As for Gaethje, the former WSOF champ is coming off a a thrilling TKO win over Michael Johnson in his UFC debut on July 7 in which he won a pair of fight bonuses.
A premiere date for the 26th season of TUF, which will air on FOX Sports 1, has not yet been announced but filming has already started out in Las Vegas.
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