With the final season of The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV coming to a close this past Saturday with The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale, the UFC has announced that bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and rival Urijah Faber as coaches for The Ultimate Fighter 15, which debuts on FX on March 9.
TUF 15 will feature both lightweight and welterweight contestants competing for the six-figure contract guaranteed to the winners of each weight class. Tryouts have already started for the season, which will be the first to ever feature live fights throughout the season. It will also be the first season to air on Friday nights.
Cruz and Faber have fought twice before. The pair first fought while under the WEC banner in March 2007, where Faber defended his featherweight title against Cruz, defeating him via guillotine choke in the first round. Both then eventually made the move to the bantamweight division.
Cruz (19-1) was the first to make the move, as he made his 135-pound debut in June 2008. He would go on to defeat Brian Bowles in March 2010 to win the WEC bantamweight title. He has since defended the belt four times, including a victory over Faber in their rematch at UFC 132 in July and October win over Demetrious Johnson.
Following his win over Cruz in the first matchup, Faber (26-5) would fight in the featherweight division for nearly four more years before making his bantamweight debut against Takeya Mizugaki last November. Following his loss to Cruz, Faber defeated fellow contender Brian Bowles via second-round TKO last month at UFC 139 to set up the rubber match.
With their UFC 132 matchup closely contested, a possible immediate rematch was discussed. However, Cruz went on to face Demetrious Johnson instead, while Faber defeated Brian Bowles the following month.
The thirteen week season begins live on Friday, March 9th at 9pm ET with a two hour premiere and will then air live at 10pm ET starting the following Friday. Cruz and Faber will then meet in mid-2012 following The Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale