The inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter LIVE on FX will debut on March 9 and the coaches have now been named.
UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and top contender Urijah Faber will square off first as coaches during this new season of the reality show, and then meet with the UFC’s 135-pound title on the line when the show concludes.
Cruz and Faber have been the leading candidates to coach the show since Faber’s victory over Brian Bowles in November at UFC 139.
Following the fight, Faber mentioned that he would love the chance to coach opposite his long time rival, and now he gets his wish.
“I can’t wait to be the next coach on The Ultimate Fighter. I am looking forward to mentoring a bunch of hungry and talented fighters. The new cast needs to be ready to work hard and learn,” said Faber on UFC.com.
“Having Dominick coach on the opposite side couldn’t be more perfect. I’m not too thrilled about being in each other’s space for an extended period of time, as I am sure we are going to get on each other’s nerves. But I can’t wait to mentally beat him up as a coach, and then literally beat him up in the cage and swipe that UFC strap.”
Cruz has been sidelined since his last fight against Demetrious Johnson in early October after requiring hand surgery due to an injury sustained in the bout. Cruz was expected to be out for about four months, so the timeline fit perfectly for him to return in March and coach the 15th season of TUF.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a gym rat and love learning and teaching mixed martial arts,” Cruz stated. “This is a dream come true. To get a chance to coach TUF and beat Faber again is all the motivation I need. This is going to be an insane season of The Ultimate Fighter.”
The fight between Cruz and Faber will mark the third time the two have battled inside the cage. Faber won the first fight while competing at featherweight, and Cruz got his revenge earlier this year at UFC 132 when he won a unanimous decision over his heated rival.
Now they’ll look to settle the score, but first they’ll coach a team of hungry up and coming fighters looking to make their mark in the UFC.
The new season of The Ultimate Fighter will kick off with a two-hour special on Friday, March 9 at 9 p.m. ET, and then shift to a 10 p.m. ET timeslot after that.
The new season format will feature welterweights and lightweight competing for a six-figure contract with the UFC. Unlike past seasons that were taped, however, this new format will showcase taped incidents from the prior week, but then every fight will air live in its entirety on Friday night on FX.
The show will span the entire time the fighters are in the house, typically 10 to 12 weeks, leading right into the finale to crown the new Ultimate Fighter winners.
Cruz and Faber will spend their entire training camps alongside the fighters on the show as they prepare for their title bout as well.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 15 will get underway in March 2012.