The TUF series is sadly still ongoing and and today it was announced that season 26 will feature the introduction to the women’s flyweight division and the eventual crowning of the first 125 lb women’s UFC champion. As if we didn’t get enough of season 25 that just finished wrapping last weekend and while it was surreal seeing someone like Jesse Tyler redeem himself, too much too soon is what Thursday’s news felt like. To make things worse, the coaches will be Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez who are expected to fight at the end of the year. While it’s understandable that Gaethje is potentially facing a six month suspension due to an eye injury, Eddie Alvarez shouldn’t be on the sidelines for an extended period of time.
The lightweight division has already been on hold long enough and The Ultimate Fighter would be better served including retired fighters who don’t have to worry about fighting after the show. While Alvarez hasn’t mentioned if he could fight sooner than later following his no contest bout against Dustin Poirier at UFC 211 in May, an argument can be made on booking him against Poirier in the early fall. Gaethje could have waited till the end of the year to face the winner between Poirier and Alvarez or maybe the winner between Kevin Lee and Edson Barboza should they get matched up soon.
Both Alvarez and Gaethje don’t have any history of bad blood and while their fight is guaranteed to spill some blood, why include them as coaches for the upcoming season of TUF? Sure, the UFC might want to give Gaethje some exposure on television, but unless he is in the cage, there isn’t much to see. Kevin Lee being a loud mouth any chance he can could’ve benefited much more and while it would still hurt to have Lee on the sidelines, his inclusion would’ve made some kind of sense.
Heck, booking Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov as TUF coaches would’ve made more sense given the fact that the two have yet to be booked for a fight, but it would only prolong a fight that should happen in September. With the top fighters in the 155 lb division soon to be booked, one can now factor in Joseph Duffy as he officially re-signed with the UFC.
Duffy is always willing to bring the fight to his opponent and with his last win coming in March, you could pencil him in for a fight against either Lee or Barboza since he lost to Poirier last January at UFC 195.
UFC recently parted ways with Chuck Liddell among other ex fighters since the Fertitta era came to an end with the sale of the company. With no reason to keep legends on the payroll, another stint on The Ultimate Fighter could’ve been the reason the company needed. Matt Serra could’ve brought plenty of entertainment to the series or perhaps somebody like Miesha Tate who is now officially out of the game.
The introduction of a 125 lbs women’s division is very much a positive step in solving the weight cutting problem in MMA, however what is the point if someone like Valentina Shevchenko can go down and dismantle the inaugural champion similar to how Joanna Jedrzejczyk did to Carla Esparza at UFC 185? Time will only tell how this will all play out.