UFC officials announced Thursday morning that heavyweights Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson will serve as coaches on the 16th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
The promotion will return to its taped format for the upcoming iteration of the series, with shooting set to begin in early August for a September premiere. The move marks a departure from “TUF 15,” the first season to be shot and edited on a week-to-week basis while featuring live fights.
The news comes on the heels of UFC President Dana White's announcement that Ross Pearson and George Sotiropoulos will coach the second international installment of the reality series, “TUF: Australia vs. U.K.” Also known as “TUF: The Smashes,” that season will join “TUF 16” on FX, though a premiere date has not yet been revealed for the first “TUF” to be shot Down Under.
Carwin posted 12 consecutive victories to begin his MMA career, capping that streak with a knockout of Frank Mir to capture the interim heavyweight title at UFC 111 in 2010. His attempt at unifying the belt would end in heartbreak, however, as Carwin was submitted by a Brock Lesnar arm-triangle choke in round two of their UFC 116 meeting after flooring the massive champion and nearly finishing the fight in the first frame. After taking a year off to undergo neck surgery, Carwin absorbed considerable punishment en route to a unanimous decision loss to Junior dos Santos 13 months ago at UFC 131. He has not competed since, as a bulging disc in his lower back forced him back onto the operating table last winter.
“I asked to coach against Roy Nelson. The fans know how I like to conduct myself both in and out of the Octagon, and I respect every fighter, coach, official and fan in the UFC,” Carwin said in the official release. “But I cannot respect a man like Roy Nelson, because he shows no respect himself. He is a keyboard warrior who doesn’t have the guts to talk trash to my face, but now he’s going to have to be in the same room, the same gym and finally the same Octagon as me.
Nelson recently rebounded from his own two-fight skid to post two wins in his last three fights, finishing Mirko Filipovic before dropping a unanimous decision to Fabricio Werdum at UFC 143. The former International Fight League titlist last competed on May 26, when he knocked out Dave Herman with an overhand right in just 51 seconds at UFC 146, earning him “Knockout of the Night” honors.
“When I found out I was coaching against Shane Carwin, I was so happy to get a chance to compete against this guy. As for being in the same room as him, I try not hang out with people that make me feel icky on the inside, but to coach 'TUF,' I will make an exception,” Nelson said. “Shane Carwin can think he is the better fighter and coach, but I will do my best and try to represent the average Joe and show my team that, with hard work, you can walk away a winner against any fighter."