The 17th season of The Ultimate Fighter, featuring coaches Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen, kicks off on Jan. 22 with a special two-hour premiere airing at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FX.
The Ultimate Fighter will run for 13 weeks and culminate in a three-hour finale, live from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. Unlike the two previous seasons on FX, the one-hour, weekly broadcast will now be shown on Tuesday nights at its new regularly scheduled timeslot of 9 p.m. ET/PT.
The 14 fighters that earn their way into the TUF house, will be divided into two teams. UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones will captain one team, while Chael Sonnen will lead the second team.
The coaches will then collide for the light heavyweight title on Saturday, April 27, at UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Not surprisingly, both Jones and Sonnen will be bringing their trademark self-confidence into their stints as coaches this season on The Ultimate Fighter.
“I thought it would be a good way to share myself with the sport of MMA,” Jones said. “I embrace the role.”
Said Sonnen, “The hottest show on FX is being graced with the greatest talent God ever made: Chael P. Sonnen.’’
The list of finalists in the middleweight (185 pounds) division was trimmed from more than 250 applicant athletes. The fighters – all seeking the opportunity of a lifetime and a six-figure contract from the Ultimate Fighting Championship – hail from the United States, Australia, England and Sweden.
“The quality of guys we have this season in unbelievable,” said UFC president Dana White. “From the fights to get into the house, to every single fight this season, I think the talent is some of the best I’ve ever seen on this show. We’re going to end up with some really good guys in the 185-pound division.”
On Jan. 22, the season will launch with 14 elimination bouts. The victorious fighters earn a spot in The Ultimate Fighter house in Las Vegas, and will then be drafted into opposing teams headed up by Jones and Sonnen.
The TUF 17 competitors are:
Dylan Andrews (16-4-1), 32, Gold Coast, AUS
Hito Andrews (9-2), 34, Sacramento, Calif.
Luke Barnatt (5-0), 24, Cambridge, ENG
Leo Bercier (7-2), 31, Great Falls, Montana
Ryan Lee Q. Bigler (9-3), 28, Guam
Kevin Casey (5-2), 31, Hawthorne, Calif.
Adam Cella (4-0), 27, Fenton, Mo.
Zach Cummings (15-3), 28, Kansas City, Mo.
Andy Enz, (6-1), 21, Anchorage, Alaska
Nik Fehete (5-1), 32, Las Vegas, Nev.
Kelvin Gastelum (5-0), 20, Yuma, Ariz.
Uriah Hall (7-2), 28, New York City, N.Y.
Collin Hart (4-1-1), 23, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Clint Hester (7-3), 24, Atlanta, Ga.
Jake Heun (3-2), 25, Salt Lake City, Utah
Nicholas Hohring (3-0), 22, Valley Springs, Calif.
Mike Jaspar (6-0), 29, Camarillo, Calif.
Bubba McDaniel (20-6), 29, Albuquerque, N.M.
Frasier Opie (10-5), 25, Milton Keynes, ENG
Frederick Persons (3-0), 28, Stockton, Calif.
Jimmy Quinlan (3-0), 26, Metheun, Mass.
Scott Rosa (4-1), 27, Sparks, Nev.
Josh Samman (9-2), 24, Tallahassee, Fla.
Gilbert Smith (5-1), 30, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Eldon Sproat (3-1), 27, Molohai, Hawaii
Tor Troeng (15-4-1), 29, Umea, SWE
Eric Wahlin (5-1), 29, Taylorsville, Utah
Timothy Williams (7-1), 26, Millville, N.J.