Following their shelved UFC 260 co-main event featherweight title fight last weekend, defending champion, Alexander Volkanovski and challenger, Brian Ortega will serve as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 29 reboot — with filming slated to begin later this month. The duo will clash for the 145-pound crown at the season finale, with the season set to air on ESPN+.
Booked to finally face-off at UFC 260 from the UFC Apex facility beneath the heavyweight championship rematch between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou, City Kickboxing mainstay, Volkanovski was forced to remove himself from the showcase after he returned a positive COVID-19 test result the week prior to the event. As a result, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace, Ortega was subsequently removed from the card entirely, in favour of a rebooking in the future. ESPN MMA reporter, Brett Okamoto was first to report the news via UFC president, Dana White.
Initially, all signs pointed toward a reboot of The Ultimate Fighter with BMF champion, Jorge Masvidal and former interim welterweight champion, Colby Covington serving as opposing coaches ahead of a bad-blooded clash at the season’s finale; headlining a pay-per-view event.
That matchup failed to ever materialize, with Masvidal matching with one-time opponent, reigning 170-pound best, Kamaru Usman at UFC 261 on April 24th. in a title rematch. Usman and Masvidal were briefly considered potential coaches for the season return, however, the promotion has decided to book Volkanovski and Ortega as coaches instead.
Taking co-main event status at UFC 261 on ‘Fight Island’ in July of last year, Volkanovski secured his first successful defence of the 145-pound throne with a close split decision win over former champion, Max Holloway in an immediate rematch — extending his undefeated streak to an incredible nineteen straight fights.
Snapping a two-year hiatus following his one-sided fourth-round doctor’s stoppage loss to Holloway at UFC 231, Ortega returned last October, also on ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Headlining UFC Fight Island 6 against fellow one-time title chaser, ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung, Ortega, now under the tutelage of the coaching staff at Huntington Beach Ultimate Training Center — scored two heavy knockdowns against the division veteran on his way to a comfortable unanimous decision victory.