The wait is over. “The Ultimate Fighter” is set to return in March 2021.
During the broadcast of UFC Vegas 12, the UFC announced the return of the program with an almost 90-second video package that highlighted some of its best moments throughout the years. It was revealed that the two weight classes to be featured for the upcoming 29th season will be bantamweight and middleweight, which are contested at 135 and 185 pounds respectively. Per MMA Fighting, fighter casting is set to begin on Nov. 13, but will be done remotely in accordance with COVID-19 precautions.
Finally, the season will premiere on ESPN+ for the first time and will have seasons 1 through 28 available to stream as well.
Coaches for the season have not been announced at this time, but UFC President Dana White has said they will be announced in the near future. Names such as Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor were previously floated as ideal candidates to fulfill these roles, but were ultimately removed from consideration after talks between McGregor and the UFC brass allegedly fell through.
The most recent season known as ‘The Ultimate Fighter: Heavy Hitters’, or TUF 28, took place in 2018 and was coached by then-middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and former show winner Kelvin Gastelum. After the completion of TUF 28, the next season was supposedly being planned, but nothing happened over the course of two years. In that time, the UFC switched broadcast partners from FOX to ESPN and put more emphasis on other original programming, but there was no indication that “The Ultimate Fighter” was coming to an end.
The show is responsible for producing some of mixed martial arts’ most recognizable names like Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping, Nate Diaz, Kamaru Usman, Rose Namajunas, Tony Ferguson and more.