The reboot of The Ultimate Fighter on ESPN+ finally has two opposing coaches booked for its summer comeback.
Reigning featherweight champion, Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski will serve as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter 29 against championship challenger, Brian ‘T-City’ Ortega — ahead of a summer matchup betwen the two for undisputed championship gold at the season’s finale.
The reality show is set to return for the first time since August of 2018 — where upcoming UFC Vegas 24 headliners, former middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker served as an opposing coach against one-time interim title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum. From that season, Juan Espino won the heavyweight bracket, while Macy Chiasson claimed the featherweight tournament — before making an immediate return to the bantamweight limit in her first Octagon walk.
In recent months, all signs pointed toward a welterweight affair between arch-rivals and former American Top Team teammates, Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington, however, the pairing failed to come to fruition, with Covington claiming Masvidal turned down a “seven-figure payday” from the UFC to coach on the show.
Briefly floated as potential coaches, upcoming UFC 261 headlines, Kamaru Usman and Masvidal instead pushed forward with their April 24. welterweight championship rematch, with the UFC now landing on a season featuring City Kickboxing mainstay, Volkanovski, and Huntington Beach Ultimate Training Center mover, Ortega. UFC president, Dana White confirmed the selection of Volkanovski and Ortega as coaches to ESPN MMA reporter, Brett Okamoto.
Volkanovski and Ortega were initially scheduled to take co-main event status at UFC 260 last weekend, however, the former returned a positive novel coronavirus test result the week prior to the scheduled affair — forcing the bouts ultimate cancellation.
Securing the first defence of his featherweight championship at UFC 261 last July in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Volkanovski narrowly outpointed former titleholder, Max Holloway in an immediate re-run of their close UFC 245 title clash.
For San Pedro native, Ortega — he made his triumphant return last October from a two-year layoff, taking a dominant, one-sided unanimous decision win over fellow one-time title chaser, ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung, displaying a striking clinic over five-rounds on his way to a return to winning ways.