UFC’s famous TV series “The Ultimate Fighter” returned for the first time in years on Tuesday, kicking off a season that will showcase a bantamweight and middleweight roster.
“TUF” has been a recurring show in UFC programming since 2005, having produced 28 seasons since then. However, the show has been absent in recent years, with the most recent season prior to the ongoing one dating back to 2018.
As is the case in the previous seasons of the show, UFC athletes coached a cast of fighters in their pursuit to becoming part of the UFC roster. Fighters compete in an eight-man tournament, with the finalists facing off in a live grand final at a later date.
In this season, UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega are the coaches and are overseeing middleweight and bantamweight fighters.
It was announced on the show that Volkanovski and Ortega will fight at a later date as well. They were first set to compete in March but had their fight postponed due to COVID-19 protocol.
Both coaches drafted their teams early in the episode. Ortega picked middleweights Andre Petroski, Miles Hunsinger, Tresean Gore and Kemran Lachinov. On the other side, team Volkanovski picked Aaron Phillips, Gilbert Urbina, Ryder Newman and Bryan Battle.
For the bantamweights, Ortega opted for Dan Argueta, Josh Rettinghouse, Vincent Murdock and Liudvik Sholinian. Volkanovski’s team picked up Dustin Lampros, Mitch Raposo, Brady Hiestand and Ricky Turcios.
It was decided that middleweights Petroski and Phillips would meet in the first episode.
Petroski used his wrestling ability to score a first-round victory over Phillips in their fight. Taking the fight down late in the first round, Petroski was able to smoothly progress into full mount, where he secured a guillotine choke that made Phillips tap.
The grappling exchange came after a couple minutes of the middleweights exchanging in a close stand-up battle.
The first episode of the season concluded by setting up the first bantamweight bout of the season, which will be between Sholinian and Raposo. That fight will air on next week’s episode.