Fresh off ain his UFC debut, former World Series of Fighting lightweight champion Justin Gaethje is being fast-tracked for a shot at the big time.
Gaethje (18-0), who twice rallied from the brink of defeat to finish Michael Johnson on July 7 in Las Vegas, has been named alongside former Bellator and UFC 155-pound champion Eddie Alvarez as the coaches for “The Ultimate Fighter: A New World Champion” season, which premieres on Aug. 30 on FS1 at 10 p.m. ET.
The 26th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” will be a special one, debuting the UFC women’s flyweight division. Sixteen women will compete for a shot at the company’s inaugural 125-pound title at the finale, which could take place in December.
Alvarez (28-5) is fresh off a May appearance at UFC 211 which ended in a no contest after Dustin Poirier was knocked out by what appeared to be a series of illegal knees while he was downed. Last November, Alvarez lost his lightweight title by knockout to Conor McGregor at UFC 205 in New York.
Gaethje, 28, has built a reputation as one of the most violent and resilient fighters in all of MMA. His eventual showdown with Alvarez, 33, not only screams of action potential for fans, but likely puts the winner one victory from a title shot in an already crowded division.
The show also offers Gaethje a shot at potential stardom should he use the reality show’s platform to build his brand.
This season of TUF will mark the first time since 2014, and only the second in company history, to crown a new UFC champion. Carla Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas to cap Season 20, which debuted the UFC women’s strawweight division.