UFC: Five Ultimate Fighters and Coach Pairings
As you probably know, Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and outspoken Chael Sonnen will host the Ultimate Fighter's 17th season.
Given Jones’ reputation as a despised champion, and Sonnen’s unlikely rise—popularity due to his brash trash talk and spirited performances against middle weight champion Anderson Silva —the 17th spell of FX’s reality show should draw some respectable numbers, especially with a planned shift that will take TUF away from the doomed Friday night slot it currently employs.
But featuring Jones and Sonnen as opposing coaches will only go so far: specifically, a single season. Expect a big ratings boost from the 17th iteration of TUF, but what about when the dust has settled and the 17th season has reached closure?
What can we expect when the dust settles: more dwindling ratings and lack of interest?
Unfortunately, that’s probably the case. However, there are ways to save this show, and it all rests in the palm of Dana White and who he opts to enroll as future coaches.
I’m not the man with the master plan, but I’ve got a list of potential pairings that could see the show sustain the attention that Jones vs. Sonnen will muster.
5. Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis
We’re going to see these collide in the octagon long before the chance to battle each other from a coach’s standpoint on TUF. That’s inevitable.
But imagine the fireworks this collision would conjure!
Cerrone has been of the belief that Pettis has been ducking him, and Pettis, a young fighter battling injuries hasn’t taken kindly to some of things “Cowboy” has said in public.
These two are eager to end the feud, with their fists.
Having met Cerrone on a few occasions, I can tell you he’s a really nice fellow, but there’s no mistaking the look in his eyes: he’s always prepared to throw down. And, he’s not afraid to speak his mind, in the slightest.
Pettis, while more reserved seems about fed up with Cerrone’s chatter, and you can bet he’s itching to deposit his shin on Donald’s draw.
Typically respectful, I see no problem with Pettis breaking character and losing his cool if forced to deal with Donald for weeks on end.
This pairing may not boast the top-notch marquee names of the sport, but both men are beloved by fans, and both have the fire to make for an incredible season of The Ultimate Fighter.
4. Nate Diaz vs. Gray Maynard
These two simply don’t like each other. I’m not sure how much animosity Maynard carries for Diaz, but Diaz sure as hell doesn’t take kindly to the presence of “The Bully."
Who can blame the guy?
He submitted him during elimination rounds of TUF season five, and lost a very controversial—which I scored in favor of Diaz by a single point—decision to the man at UFC Fight Night 20.
Gray claims he’s got unfinished business with Diaz, and I’m confident that Diaz would agree, wholeheartedly.
While Maynard may refrain from excessive verbal attacks, Nate will not. He’ll let Maynard know exactly how he feels, and we could very well see that expression translate into a physical altercation or two.
These two need to tangle as TUF coaches. I have zero doubt that fans would once again find themselves glued to the TV, eagerly anticipating Nate’s outbursts.
3. Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz
Whether or not GSP holds onto his title after meeting Carlos Condit at UFC 154, is a matter of irrelevance. Georges and Nick do not like each other, and this is a big money bout.
Nick is one of the sport’s most aggressive, crude and downright brash trash talkers, and you can bet he’ll be in GSP’s ears and face every single opportunity afforded him.
St. Pierre may have played it cool when opposing Josh Koscheck on the 12th season of TUF, but Josh Koscheck doesn’t have the inner fury to push confrontations in to near physical altercations: piss Nick off, and he’ll punch you in the face with no regard.
Georges shrug it off attitude displayed in season 12 just won’t work when opposing Diaz, who will make TUF a must see show one more.
Just imagine it: Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields as Diaz’s coaching staff…oh boy, the Scrap Pack brings intensity and that’s something I really, really want to see.
2. Anderson Silva vs. Michael Bisping
Michael Bisping—love him or hate him—has looked pretty damn impressive in his recent outings. He took a fair decision over Brian Stann, destroyed Jason Miller and engaged in a highly controversial bout with Chael Sonnen, many of which (myself included) believed he’d done enough to be recognized the victor.
Bisping’s growth has been exponential since winning the third season of The Ultimate Fighter, and he looks like a man ready to challenge for a title.
Anderson Silva has expressed an interest in fighting Bisping in the past, and this could be a fantastic platform with which to build the hype. Bisping is a trash talker through and through. We all know what Silva does to trash talkers.
But therein lay the question: can Silva abuse “The Count” as he’s done so many others? There’s no doubt that Silva is the superior fighter, but truth be told, I’m not sure any fighter outside of Bisping and Chris Weidman are tough enough to hang in there with the world’s greatest. They’ve certainly got the moxy.
While Silva may not be profoundly fluent in English, Bisping’s got a mouth big enough to fit a watermelon in it, and you can bet, he’ll hurl enough insults in “The Spider’s” direction to stir some anger in the champion.
This could very well be a surprise hit of a season.
1. Junior Dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem
Junior has already played the role of coach during the 13th season of the show. He proved likeable, compassionate and hungry for victory. He also showed some smarts and a wealth of sportsmanship and respect.
Against Alistair Overeem, a free speaking freak of physical nature with enough confidence to make Martin Luther King Jr. roll over in his grave out of admiration, the show will not run so smoothly.
Alistair is as confident as they come, and he’ll make that known throughout the season. Dos Santos however, doesn’t care for “The Reem” in the slightest, and that may make for good television. We could actually see the “angry” JDS emerge.
Take into account that each man fills the number one and two slot as most feared heavyweight on the planet, and what fans are gifted is a buildup (likely quite tense at times) to what may well be the biggest heavyweight encounter in a solid decade.