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5 potential coaching pairings for the 29th season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF)

Scott Newman
Modified 11 Nov 2020, 20:45 IST
Top 5 / Top 10

#3 Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker

Could Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker build to a rematch via coaching TUF 29?
Could Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker build to a rematch via coaching TUF 29?

While it was initially suggested that UFC Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya could face UFC Light Heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz in a ‘superfight’ next, it’d probably be a much better idea to keep the two weight classes apart. That feeling only intensified when Glover Teixeira defeated Thiago Santos last weekend to stake his own claim for a shot at Blachowicz.

If the UFC does go down that route, then it’d be a cool idea to have Adesanya coach against the man he dethroned to take the UFC Middleweight crown – Robert Whittaker – on TUF 29.

Whittaker has already denied UFC President Dana White’s claim that he’s not interested in a fight with Adesanya – instead stating that he simply wants the fight in March or April 2021 instead of January.

Therefore, pairing the two as coaches on TUF 29 to build to a fight at the end of the season – probably around May – would be perfect.

More to the point, both men have highly marketable personalities, particularly Adesanya. A TUF coaching opportunity would be the perfect vehicle for The Last Stylebender to push his brand and become an even bigger star, even if he’s actually stated that he’d rather not take the gig.

Meanwhile, Whittaker was actually discovered during a season of TUF – 2012’s UK vs. Australia-themed The Smashes. And so it’d be a lot of fun to see The Reaper return to his old stomping ground as a coach.

With both men also having a somewhat combustible nature, the likelihood is that we’d see at least one heated clash between the two – building their title fight up to must-see proportions. Essentially, this pairing would make for awesome TV.


#4 Jon Jones and Alistair Overeem

Jon Jones could precede his Heavyweight debut by coaching against Alistair Overeem on TUF.
Jon Jones could precede his Heavyweight debut by coaching against Alistair Overeem on TUF.

This one sounds a little out of left field, but bear with me. Jon Jones has been discussing a move up to Heavyweight for some time in order to chase after a UFC title in a second weight class. He’s even vacated the UFC Light Heavyweight title now, suggesting that he finally means business with the move.

However, with Francis Ngannou being the clear-cut top contender at Heavyweight, Jones will probably need at least one fight in his new weight class before going after the UFC title. So why not make that fight against former UFC title challenger Alistair Overeem – and have the two coach on TUF 29 in the process?

Overeem has recently stated that he wants “one final run” at the UFC Heavyweight title now he’s turned 40. And if he could overcome Jones, then it’d be hard to deny him his shot. The fight makes sense, but what about the coaching gig?


Well, Jones has coached on TUF before – on the 17th season against bitter rival Chael Sonnen. And the then-UFC Light Heavyweight champ did an excellent job overall, with his appearance helping to rehabilitate his image following the debacle of UFC 151’s cancelation.

Meanwhile, Overeem has never quite reached the heights that he was expected to in terms of stardom, but he’s still one of the UFC’s most popular Heavyweights. More to the point, he’s got an interesting persona, and his sheer experience – he’s been fighting since 1999 – would make him a tremendous coach for up-and-coming stars.

Add in the fact that this pairing wouldn’t logjam a UFC title picture – and would give Jones plenty of time to prepare for his Heavyweight debut – and it’d be a brilliant idea from the UFC to go ahead with it.

#5 Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou

Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou could add interest to their rematch by coaching on TUF.
Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou could add interest to their rematch by coaching on TUF.

The next UFC Heavyweight title fight is almost certain to pit reigning champion Stipe Miocic against top contender Francis Ngannou. And recent reports suggest that UFC President Dana White is looking to book the fight in March 2021.


However, despite Ngannou more than earning his title shot by destroying four straight opponents by KO, the interest levels for the fight may be lower than the UFC might hope. That’s because the two have already fought before.

And that fight – at UFC 220 in January 2018 – saw Miocic absolutely dominate Ngannou en route to a unanimous decision win.

Ngannou has been destroying all in his path since, but it might still be a hard sell to suggest that he could dethrone Miocic. So why not let the two build the fight by having them coach on TUF 29, which could add another dimension to their rivalry?

It wouldn’t be the first time coaching TUF for Miocic, who coached against former rival Daniel Cormier on the 25th season of the reality show in 2018. However, for Ngannou, it’d be a golden opportunity for him to sell his personality to UFC fans a little more.

Right now, The Predator is simply seen as a stoic wrecking machine. But while that’s effective in selling him as a beast to be slain, he might need a little more if he wants to become a bonafide UFC superstar. And coaching on TUF could allow him to really show his true persona, allowing his brand to grow in the process.

Sure, the two men may not enter into a blood feud during the TUF coaching process. But it’d still be fascinating to see them pit their wits during TUF against each other before facing off in the Octagon.

Published 11 Nov 2020, 20:45 IST
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