by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White on Thursday, via an Ultimate Fighter 10 teleconference, announced that the next season of the venerable Spike TV reality series would see Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Rashad Evans as coaches.
The tenth season, titled The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights, kicks off on Sept. 16. It will be comprised completely of heavyweight athletes and culminate in a grudge match on Dec. 12 between Jackson and Evans.
“We haven’t done heavyweights since season two of TUF,” said White. “And this is the first time that we’re going to do all heavyweights. The coaches are going to be Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans.”
The decision to go with Jackson and Evans, according to White, was actually determined by Jackson, who was initially going to be next in line for a shot at Lyoto Machida, the new UFC light heavyweight champion. Machida defeated Evans for the title this past weekend at UFC 98, but Jackson’s beef with Evans was deeper than his desire for an immediate return shot at the belt.
“Dana told me I could fight whoever,” said Jackson. “I had my mind set to fight Evans. The fight would have meant more to me had he won (against Machida), but that’s what I want. I want to whoop his ass.
“No, I wasn’t happy to see him get knocked out. I wanted to be the first one to knock him out.”
The animosity between the two began when Evans stepped into the Octagon to confront Jackson at UFC 96. Jackson had just won a unanimous decision over Evans’ teammate, Keith Jardine.
“We were figuring out what we were going to do with coaches. That Quinton said he wanted Rashad Evans; it was a no brainer,” White commented on the decision to select Jackson and Evans as coaches.
Jackson, who let his participation as a coach slip a little early via his Twitter account late Wednesday night, returns for his second stint as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter. His first go around was coaching opposite Forrest Griffin on season seven. Following the show, Jackson, then the UFC light heavyweight champion, lost his belt to Griffin at UFC 86. He has since returned to form, knocking out his nemesis, Wanderlei Silva, at UFC 92 and earning the unanimous decision victory over Jardine.
Having lost the belt to Machida at UFC 98, Evans returns to the launching pad of his UFC career, this time as a coach instead of a competitor. He won the heavyweight division of The Ultimate Fighter when the program was still in its infancy during season two. After defeating Brad Imes to win that season, Evans dropped down to light heavyweight making his successful run at the title before the recent loss to Machida.