The Ultimate Fighter will make its return tomorrow, June 1, on ESPN+.
Following the cancellation of their title fight, Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega are signed on as opposing coaches for the season.
The show has not been on since Fall of 2019 when it took a prolonged hiatus due to lowered viewership, but the promotion made their plans clear to bring it back.
The upcoming 29th season has been titled “The Ultimate Fighter Returns” and will feature contestants from the Men’s Bantamweight (135 lbs) and Middleweight (185 lbs) divisions. Eight fighters from each division will compete, with he season’s two winners earning a contract and slot in the UFC roster.
The full cast list is as follows.
- Daniel Argueta (5-0)
- Brady Hiestand (4-1)
- Dustin Lampros (5-0)
- Vince Murdock (11-6)
- Mitch Raposo (5-0)
- Joshua Rettinghouse (16-5)
- Liudvik Sholinian (9-1)
- Ricky Turcios (10-2)
Fans of the Contender Series may recognize a few names from this list, as Vince Murdock and Ricky Turcios suffered losses there. Daniel Argueta and Liudvik Sholinian stand out to me as ones to watch. Argueta has gone undefeated and faced top competition in respected promotions such as Combate and LFA, and boasts a well-rounded game focused on striking with four finishes to his name. Sholinian comes out of the Eastern European regional circuit and has a dominant ground attack, as well as an entertaining stand up game. His lone loss came by decision in Bellator.
- Aaron Phillips (5-1)
- Andre Petroski (5-1)
- Bryan Battle (4-1)
- Ryder Newman (3-1)
- Tresean Gore (3-0)
- Miles Hunsinger (7-0)
- Kemran Lachinov (10-3)
- Gilbert Urbina (6-1)
Those familiar with TUF will recognize the Urbina name, as Gilbert will be the third Urbina brother to compete on the show. Miles Hunsinger and Andre Petroski are my top picks out of the Middleweights. Petroski is the type of all action fighter that will make it to the UFC one way or another, with high-octane striking and an adept submission offense. Hunsinger has gone undefeated to this point in his career and has stopped five of his pro wins. He has solid wrestling and the submission arsenal to back it up, though his top control is the chief strength in his game.
Tune into ufc.com to watch the individual breakdowns of each fighter, and check ESPN+ tomorrow at 9 PM EST for the first episode.