Expected by many to be an unpredictable and exciting season already due to a first-ever format, the 18th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” got off to an unpredictable start Tuesday when taping began.
With Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey set to coach in the reality show against No. 1 contender Cat Zingano, Rousey showed up for Tuesday’s first day of taping only to find archrival Miesha Tate there to coach against her.
According to multiple internet website reports, Rousey was stunned by the turn of events and went looking for UFC President Dana White. Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reported that Rousey said she was at first angry because she believed Tate was replacing her.
But Tate was replacing Zingano, who incurred a knee injury and underwent surgery on a very eventful Tuesday.
After Rousey figured out what transpired, she told Yahoo! that she was happy about the change in foe, as she defeated Tate for the Strikeforce women’s title in a bout in March of 2012. It was a fight rife with bad blood and build-up after a memorable war of words.
“Everyone said an Ultimate Fighter between me and Miesha would be the best," Rousey told Yahoo!. "For some reason, I think me and Miesha are intertwined in fate like Ali and Frazier."
Tate and Zingano fought in an April UFC bout for the right to challenge Rousey for the title in December and coach against her on “The Ultimate Fighter.” Zingano won via third-round stoppage in a result that Tate disputed, saying illegal blows brought about some of the damage and the fight was stopped too early.
Nonetheless, Tate (13-4) got what she desired with her inclusion on “TUF” and the title shot it will bring about against Rousey (7-0), who submitted Tate, like she has every one of her other opponents, via first-round armbar in their first title tilt.
The 18th season will feature female coaches for the first time ever and, in another first, will feature female fighters, as well as male fighters, competing in separate tournaments.
Rousey, who trains at the Glendale Fighting Club under Edmond Tarverdyan, is joined by Tarverdyan, Andy Dermenjian, Manny Gamburyan and Marina Shafir as the coaching staff opposing Tate.
“TUF” premieres on Sept. 4 on FOX Sports 1.