sports 2 months ago

TUF 26 set to premiere Aug. 30; Gaethje, Alvarez confirmed as coaches

theScore — Themistoklis Alexis

The UFC is adding a third women's division to the fold.

The promotion will launch its women's flyweight division and crown its inaugural champ on the "The Ultimate Fighter 26," which is set to premiere on Aug. 30, as announced in a Monday release.

Lightweight contenders Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez have been tapped as the season's opposing coaches and are expected to clash at the end of the 16-fighter tourney.

President Dana White recently revealed the show's first episode has already been filmed, although neither the cast nor the date of season finale have been confirmed. Open tryouts were held earlier this year for fighters with a winning record over at least three professional fights.

The launch sees the UFC follow the blueprint laid for its strawweight division, which debuted on "The Ultimate Fighter 20" in the fall of 2014 and saw Carla Esparza emerge as its first champion. The move heeds the call of several active UFC fighters - including Jessica Eye and Joanne Calderwood - who've either struggled to make 115 pounds or given up size to their opponents at 135.

As for the coaches, Alvarez last fought Dustin Poirier to a no-contest at UFC 211 after losing the lightweight crown to Conor McGregor this past November, while Gaethje - a former WSOF champion - gets tapped to coach the flagship program mere days after stopping Michael Johnson in a Fight of the Year candidate at the TUF 25 finale.

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