The UFC issued a statement to Fightful.com, officially announcing the women's strawweight weight class of 115 pounds.
The title will be contested in a 16-woman tournament, held on the Ultimate Fighter season 16. No finale date was announced, but Fightful is told that December 1 is the targeted date.
Top-10 Lightweights Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez will coach the season.
For the second time in series history, the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter® will introduce a new weight class and crown a new champion. At the helm, will be two of the sports’ best and most exhilarating athletes when No. 3 lightweight Eddie Alvarez and No. 6 Justin Gaethje assume the coaching responsibilities for The Ultimate Fighter®: A New World Champion.
Alvarez and Gaethje will lead 16 flyweight women throughout the season and lead them to a shot at UFC® gold, with the winner of season 26 becoming the inaugural women’s 125-pound champion. Season 20 saw Carla Esparza emerge victorious earning the strawweight world title via third-round submission over Rose Namajunas. The Ultimate Fighter remains the highest rated and most watched original show on FS1 and will premiere Wednesday, August 30 at 10 p.m. ET.
Former UFC champion Alvarez (28-5, 1 NC, fighting out of Philadelphia, Penn.) has held a title in nearly every promotion he’s ever competed in and will utilize that world-class pedigree to groom a champion in the UFC’s 12th weight class. He has 22 finishes – 17 knockouts and five submissions – in his 28 professional wins and packs one of the most powerful punches in the 155-pound division.
After making an impression in his promotional debut during International Fight Week™ with a second-round knockout of No. 5 Michael Johnson,Gaethje (18-0, fighting out of Arvada, Colo.) will set his sights on coaching the next world champion in route to taking another step toward becoming a champion himself. With 15 knockouts and one submission to his credit, Gaethje has become must-watch television every time he competes and will no doubt try to pass his highlight reel moves on to the ladies he’s coaching.
It is the second time the reality show has been used to crown a women's champion in the UFC, as the UFC Ultimate Fighter 20 was used to crown the first ever UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion, won by Carla Esparza.
No competitors have been announced for the show yet.