The UFC’s move to FOX will not only give its popular reality TV show The Ultimate Fighter a new network and new format but of course, new coaches—as bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber have been tapped to coach TUF 15.
“We’re producing ground-breaking television with The Ultimate Fighter LIVE and we can’t wait to kick this season off with FX in March,” said UFC President Dana White of the revised live-formatted show, which debuts with a two-hour episode March 9 at 9 p.m. on the FOX-owned FX channel.
Subsequent hour-long episodes of the longest-running sports reality show—whose 14 seasons prior to this summer’s landmark deal with FOX were all broadcast by Spike TV—will air each Friday at 10 p.m. ET/PT for 13 weeks before the finale rewards one lightweight contestant and one welterweight participant with six-figure UFC contracts.
“It’s going to be can’t-miss TV. Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber are two incredible personalities who also happen to be two of the best fighters in the world,” continued White. “They genuinely dislike each other and I expect this to make for the best season yet.”
Indeed the rivalry between the two spans five years, as Faber handed Cruz his only professional loss via a guillotine choke at WEC 26 in March 2007. The 26-year-old Cruz avenged that setback with a unanimous decision victory in a back-and-forth, Fight-of-the-Year caliber, five-round affair at UFC 132 in July at the MGM Grand.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a gym rat and love learning and teaching mixed martial arts,” said Cruz, who will face Faber in their rubber match sometime in mid-2012.
“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.”
“Having Dominick coach on the opposite side couldn’t be more perfect,” Faber said. “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.”