The Ultimate Fighter may not be airing, other than televised repeats of the recently concluded “TUF: Brazil”, but it is sure among the news this week as the coaching positions for the two upcoming seasons have now been assigned. Announced following UFC On FUEL TV 4 the upcoming season deemed “TUF: The Smashes”, where the long lived rivalry between the United Kingdom and Australia will be contested in the octagon, TUF9 winner Ross Pearson will lead his team of fellow Englishmen against TUF6 alumni George Sotiropoulos who will lead his team of “Aussies”. Announced early the following day the coaches for the upcoming TUF16 season were made official as former Interim UFC Heavyweight champion Shane Carwin leads his team against TUF 10 winner and former IFL Heavyweight champion Roy Nelson.
TUF: The Smashes will be the second TUF season to be hosted outside of the show’s home in Las Vegas, Nevada, the first being the recent season of TUF: Brazil. This season will also be the second to pit two rival countries against each other with the first being TUF9: Team USA vs Team UK, which is the same season that Pearson both competed on and won in the end in the Lightweight category while fellow Englishman James Wilks won in the Welterweight category. This season is expected to be hosted in Australia and televised on FOX owned channel FUEL TV and debut on September 2 this year. While UFC President Dana White is used to making regular appearances throughout TUF seasons to oversee the competition, his part in the show is expected to be the same as was played in TUF: Brazil where he was on scene for the beginning and end of the show, and would fly out to personally handle serious situations that may arise during filming.
Pearson will take his position as coach going 5-3 in the UFC, 4-2 as a Lightweight in the promotion and now 1-1 as a Featherweight most recently suffering a Rnd2 TKO at UFC On FX 4. Having mixed success as a Lightweight, Pearson made the move down to Featherweight where he holds a size advantage over some of the competition in the division. After a successful debut in the division he unfortunately suffered a Rnd2 TKO loss to Cub Swanson in what was an entertaining bout. With the list of contenders in the division sometimes growing and shrinking in an instance, Pearson could make a statement and rise to the occasion for a potential title shot should he find some consistency while competing.
Sotiropoulos will come into the coaching position going 7-2 in the UFC, 2-0 as a Welterweight after TUF6 and 5-2 as a Lightweight riding a seven fight win streak before hitting a skid over his last two bouts most recently suffering a Rnd1 KO loss at UFC 132. After dropping down to compete as a Lightweight after going 2-0 as a Welterweight in the UFC, Sotiropoulos went on an impressive win streak of five straight victories that included three via Submission. Knocking on the door for a shot at the title he hit a road block in Denis Siver as he suffered a Unanimous Decision defeat being unable to take him down where he could implement his submission game. Hoping to bounce back he suffered a second straight loss this time via Rnd1 KO to Rafael dos Anjos. Seen as a star in his native Australia in MMA, Sotiropoulos is a perfect candidate to lead his team of fellow countrymen with a wealth of experience and knowing the highs and lows in the UFC.
TUF16 will be the sixteenth official installment of the longtime series that originally started in 2005. In this season the show will return to the usual prerecorded format with the show playing out over the course of 2-3 months with every move the competitors make being documented. In the most recent TUF15 season the show experimented with a new live format where the fights occurred every Friday live towards the end of the broadcast with the footage prior to it recorded within the time from the previous bout up to the day before the live broadcast. While some seasons have featured two competing weight classes, this season will be one of several to showcase only one with the Welterweight division on display. The season is expected to show the elimination process where the 32 chosen competitors will be halved to 16 and will continue to draw down all the way to the finals which will happen at the live finale. The show is expected to debut September 7 this year on its new home on the FOX owned channel FX.
Carwin will come into the coaching position off a lengthy layoff well over a year last competing in June 2011 where he fought then for the #1 contendership position at UFC 131. After entering the UFC unbeaten as a professional for eight straight bouts with all ending before the halfway mark of the first round, Carwin extended his undefeated record with four more first round finishes all by way of (T)KO which included capturing the Interim Heavyweight title with a Rnd1 TKO over former 2x champion Frank Mir. After going unbeaten in twelve career bouts Carwin suffered back-to-back losses first via Rnd2 Submission where he failed to capture the official title from then champion Brock Lesnar and a Unanimous Decision loss to Junior dos Santos where he failed to recapture the #1 contendership position in the division. Hoping to return to the octagon before the end of the year Carwin was looking forward to making his long awaited return by early Fall, however in a recent interview with Inside MMA he stated that his return may be delayed till late Fall or by the end of the year due to a slow recovery from much needed back surgery. With a wrestling background that provides a wealth of experience alone and being a member of one of the most recognized MMA gyms in the United States, Carwin is a worthy candidate to lead a team of hopeful prospects who dream of a meteoric rise up the ranks comparable to his own.
Nelson will come into the coaching position after going 4-3 in the UFC with his most recent bout being a quick Rnd1 KO victory as part of the first ever all Heavyweight main card for UFC 146. Entering TUF10 with a record of 13-4 Nelson cruised through the season all the way to the finale. After winning the tournament with a Rnd1 KO over Brendan Schaub and a Rnd1 TKO over Stefan Struve in his next outing, he made his biggest statement in his first loss in the promotion when he became the first competitor to go the distance with then future champion Junior dos Santos in a bout for the #1 contendership position. Seen as an annoyance to some fans for his strategy used during TUF10 and for his physique, Nelson was the first and today is only one of two competitors to have endured the onslaught of Dos Santos’ power for the full 15 minutes and in doing so earned the respect of many fans including Dana White. Following the loss to Dos Santos he would go 2-2 next losing another Unanimous Decision this time to Frank Mir, earning a Rnd3 TKO over Mirko Cro-Cop in what was his final MMA bout, losing another Unanimous Decision this time to Fabricio Werdum, and most recently earning a Rnd1 KO over Dave Herman. While Nelson has been inconsistent and regularly being told he should drop down to Light Heavyweight, he is without a doubt one of the most enduring and entertaining Heavyweights on the roster. With an elite BJJ background and a great deal of experience that is sometimes overlooked, Nelson could prove to be a surprisingly good coach for these aspiring UFC prospects.
Written by @MMAFanHQ