As we reported last week, the tryouts for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter are already underway in the U.S. The question many are asking now is, who will be the coaches for the 11th season?
As yet there is no official word from the UFC themselves, so in the mean time we have looked through the promotions current roster, and selected five possible coaching match-ups for the show which is set to be filmed in 2010.
Bear in mind that we’re not just picking unrealistic ‘superfights’ here (i.e. Anderson Silva Vs Brock Lesnar), but rather realistic coach pairings that would add something to the show, and provide an entertaining fight at the end of the series.
5. Diego Sanchez Vs Kenny Florian
There has been a trend in recent seasons of The Ultimate Fighter for former winners of the show (such as Forrest Griffin, Michael Bisping and Rashad Evans) to come back as coaches. Therefore Diego Sanchez, winner of the middleweight competition in Season 1, has a genuine chance at being the next fighter to be called up to the show.
What could be an interesting twist is to bring in Kenny Florian, the other finalist in the first season, as the opposing coach. While both fought at middleweight on the show, Florian was clearly better suited to lightweight and moved there after the show. He has lost only twice, both in title fights, in his eight fights at that weight class.
Sanchez has also followed suit after posting a 7-2 record at welterweight, and has so far gone two fights undefeated in the lightweight division.
- Two former TUF stars featuring as coach hasn’t been done before on the show.
- There is added spice to match-up since Sanchez called out Florian back in June, stating, “One of the reasons for me dropping to 155 was the fact that Kenny Florian is coming up on his second title shot, and this is a guy that I walked through four years ago.” He went on to say, “in my mind, I am the number one contender right now.”
- Neither fighter is likely to drive the kind of viewing figures that we have seen from recent coach pairings such as Bisping Vs Henderson and Rampage Vs Evans.
- A better pairing may have been former TUF coach BJ Penn and Sanchez with the title up for grabs, but this fight is already scheduled to take place. If Sanchez loses that fight, then that may harm his chances of becoming a coach on the show.
4. Wanderlei Silva Vs Chris Leben
Wanderlei Silva is currently making his way down to the middleweight division after a largely unsuccessful stint in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, (and then 195lbs) in which he recorded only one victory in four fights. Silva still has a loyal and passionate fan-base however, and he has enough charisma and intensity to be an excellent TUF coach.
Chris Leben, another veteran from The Ultimate Fighter Season 1, is amongst the most memorable and controversial fighters to have emerged from the show. Like Silva he has struggled in recent times, registering two losses in his recent visits to the cage.
- Both fighters are big characters and would undoubtedly prove to be entertaining to watch on the show.
- A fight between the two, who are renowned for the their love of stand-up wars, could tweak the interest of casual fans and would be an entertaining way to round-off the show.
- The show could be a good way to revitalize the two mens careers.
- With both men currently on a losing streak, a fight between them has little significance to the overall picture in the middleweight division.
- Is Siva’s English good enough for the show? I would lean towards saying yes, but it’s open to debate. He still likes to speak in Portuguese when possible, as he admits he can’t always express himself fully in English.
3. Tito Ortiz Vs Mark Coleman
Former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz has been a coach on the show before, against Ken Shamrock on Season 3, and has recently made a return to the UFC after an 18 month absence. His form before his recent lay-off was poor, with a draw and two losses in has past three fights, though each was against a fighter who had held the title (Lyoto Machida, Rashad evans and Chuck Liddell).
Mark Coleman was originally scheduled to face Ortiz at the upcoming UFC 106 event but had to pull out due to injury. Coleman has the distinction of being the first heavyweight champion of the UFC, back in 1996, and some 12 years later he returned to the octagon to fight in the light heavyweight division where he has claimed a victory over Stephan Bonnar, and a loss to current title contender Mauricio Shogun Rua.
- Both men are big characters with plenty to say for themselves, and are comfortable being the center of attention.
- Ortiz has a knack for creating conflict, and with Coleman being an emotional character this has the makings of another rivalry similar to when he coached opposite another veteran, Ken Shamrock, which generated significant ratings for the show.
- Ortiz admits there is still bad blood between the two after a war of words broke out when Coleman backed out of the original fight.
- As with the Silva Vs Leben fight, this is not a fight that holds any major significance at the present time for the light heavyweight division.
- It’s questionable whether a fight between the two would live up to the hype that they will be able to generate throughout the course of the season.
2. Georges St. Pierre Vs Dan Hardy
GSP is one of the UFC’s superstars, and despite being on the roster since the original series of TUF, he has never starred as coach (though he did make a brief appearance as a trainer on the fourth season). He is of course the current welterweight champion and is currently recovering from a torn abductor muscle sustained during his dominating title defense over Thiago Alves at UFC 100.
UK fighter Dan Hardy is currently one of the fastest rising stars in the UFC, partly at least due to his ability to talk up a fight – a quality that should serve him well on The Ultimate Fighter. He has also shown himself to be a significant threat in the welterweight division, winning all three of his fights in the octagon so far.
- GSP is one of the sports best known and most popular fighters.
- Dan Hardy is a self confessed trash talker which has already fast-tracked him up the welterweight ladder, and should help add spice to the show.
- As things stand there seems to be a level of apathy over GSP’s potential challengers for his belt, so TUF could be a good vehicle to generate hype and interest in the fight.
- Hardy still has to get past Mike Swick first before he could even be considered for a title shot, which will be no easy task. Even then many will argue that he is not yet ready for a title shot.
- GSP’s ‘nice guy’ image might not translate well on a show like TUF which often depends on hostility between the coaches to entice people to tune in each week.
1. Brock Lesnar Vs Frank Mir
Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar is currently the UFC’s biggest PPV draw, thanks to his larger than life physique and ‘love him or hate him’ personality. When combined with the fan interest from his previous career in pro wrestling, and victories in the UFC over former champions Frank Mir and Randy Couture, Lesnar is a guaranteed ratings winner.
Frank Mir has starred as a coach on Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter alongside Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. He won the fight at the end of that season, but is currently coming off a loss to Lesnar at UFC 100. He does however hold a victory over him dating back to Lesnar’s debut in the organisation at UFC 81, and has stated a number of times since his loss that he wants a rubber match between the two.
- As far as TV ratings go, Brock Lesnar should generate the biggest numbers for the show of any fighter currently appearing on the UFC’s roster (perhaps with the exception of Kimbo Slice).
- There is a genuine rivalry between Lesnar and Mir that remains unresolved despite two previous fights between the two. There is almost guaranteed to be fireworks if they were to appear on the show together.
- Depending on how the two fighters forthcoming match-ups with Shane Carwin and Cheick Kongo respectively work out, there could be a title fight between the two at the end of the season.
- Brock Lesnar is unlikely to be interested in appearing on the show. When he is not fighting he tends to be a somewhat reclusive figure who would likely balk at the idea of having cameras following him around for the duration of the show.
- Many will argue that one of the other heavyweight contenders such as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira deserves the next shot at Lesnar’s title (if he is able to beat Shane Carwin) instead of Mir, though such a match-up would likely have less of a ratings grabbing rivalry.
- It’s only been a few seasons since Mir last appeared as a coach on the show.
Who are some other fighers currently on the UFC roster who could make an impact on the show?(we will exclude previous coaches like BJ Penn, Rich Franklin and Randy Couture from this list).
Vitor Belfort: If it wasn’t for the persistent rumor that The UFC wants him to fight for the title against Anderson Silva next, then a match up of the likeable Belfort versus fellow Brazilian Wanderlei Silva would make a lot of sense.
Wanderlei has already noted a strong desire to fight him, after losing their first battle back at UFC: Brazil in 1998. Belfort recently stated that he does not have a strong desire to fight for the title yet, so this could still become a reality if the UFC is willing to switch things around.
Josh Koscheck was another infamous character in TUF season 1, thanks to his cocky attitude, and ability to wind up Chris Leben which painted him as the shows first villain. Though he has mellowed somewhat in the years that have followed, he would likely strike up an entertaining rivalry with whoever was selected as his opposite coach.
A trash talking double act with Dan Hardy could be an interesting pairing, though Georges St.Pierre, and perhaps even former TUF coach Matt Hughes would also work.
Lyoto Machida: No fighter in the UFC has been more vocal about wanting to be a coach on TUF than Machida. He has admitted that he was overlooked for the current season due to his lack of English, but has been studying hard to improve since then in the hope of being considered in the future.
Though his English is improving it is still limited, and, for the time being at least, he has to recover from hand surgery and ffocus on defending his light heavyweight belt in a rematch with Shogun Rua before he is likely to appear on the show.
Phil Baroni: Perhaps a wild card pick, but Baroni’s ‘in your face’ personality marks him out as a potential hit on TUF. On the other hand he has only recently returned to the UFC after an indifferent spell fighting for other promotions, and he may have to prove himself before becoming a serious contender for a coaching spot.
If he was to get the nod the more interesting match-ups for him would appear to be at middleweight, where previously mentioned fighters like Wanderlei Silva and Chris Leben lie in wait.
Who do you think would make be the best coaches for the next series? Vote for the pairing you most want to see below, or make an alternative suggestion in the comments section.
Article By RossC
All Picture courtesy of sherdog.com