Everything has been made official by the UFC—Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate will coach Season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter while Cat Zingano recovers from surgery.
UFC Tonight and Yahoo Sports first broke the initial news of the sudden and unexpected change in headliners, with the UFC confirming that the taping for the reality show will indeed feature one of the biggest rivalries in women's MMA.
To say the least, it's a curious trend that leaves quite a few questions.
Apparently, the UFC felt that Rousey and Tate's rivalry would bring the most eyes to the show, with the promotion quickly going into hype mode via a staredown photo:
Notably, Tate will also be the fourth UFC fighter in 2013 to get a title shot while simultaneously coming off a loss, a distinction she now shares with Chael Sonnen, Nick Diaz and Frankie Edgar.
According to Yahoo Sports, Cat Zingano will lose her TUF 18 coaching spot, her title shot and six months off the calender as she recuperates from an injured right knee, although her most recent Twitter post shows a successful surgery.
Zingano suffered a "torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus" during training on May 16, although it was kept a secret from Rousey and the public by the UFC until filming began for TUF 18.
(According to the official UFC rankings, Zingano is technically the No. 1 contender to the title, while Tate is ranked at No. 3 in the women's bantamweight division.)
Fellow former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman is also higher-ranked than Tate, but she suffered a more recent loss via first-round armbar to Rousey in just 54 seconds of her very last Strikeforce bout in August 2012.
Regardless of all the changes, The Ultimate Fighter 18 is still making history as the first season in the show's run to feature female coaches, in addition to being the first installment to feature a co-ed cast—male and female bantamweight fighters.