The UFC's next -- and possibly final -- season of The Ultimate Fighter has its coaches.
Closing out their run on Fox and Fox Sports 1 will see The Ultimate Fighter 28 pit UFC Middleweight Champion and top contender Kelvin Gastelum against one another as coaches. The series will feature heavyweights and women's featherweights, both rarities in the show's format. Whittaker and Gastelum will also compete for the championship after the conclusion of the season.
You can see a press release issued to Fightful.com by the UFC below:
Later this summer, The Ultimate Fighte returns for an incredible 28th season. The Ultimate Fighter: Heavy Hitters, premiering August 29 on FS1, will feature male heavyweights and female featherweights. This season also sees the return of two previous season winners as UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker coaches opposite No. 4-ranked contender Kelvin Gastelum.
Whittaker (21-4) won The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes as a welterweight and has gone on to become one of the most successful TUF winners in the UFC. He is the reigning UFC middleweight champion and has claimed five post-fight bonus awards in his last four fights.
Gastelum (16-3, 1 NC) also won The Ultimate Fighter, claiming the middleweight trophy during the 17th season of the show. He has been dominant at 185 pounds, taking out former champions and superstars such as Michael Bisping, Jacare Souza and Tim Kennedy.
Whittaker and Gastelum will face each other for the undisputed middleweight championship later this year. The Ultimate Fighter: Heavy Hitters premieres on August 29 on FS1, running through November 28. The Ultimate Fighter is the longest running reality sports program in television, and is the most-watched original series on FS1.
Including international editions, The Ultimate Fighter will be in its 38th iteration, and helped launch the careers of Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Nate Diaz, Michael Bisping, Tony Ferguson, TJ Dillashaw, and Gastelum and Whittaker themselves.
No update has been given on the future of the show, as it has largely been replaced by Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series, a live program that features official fights and cherry picks contract winners. There was no mention of The Ultimate Fighter during UFC's ESPN deal announcement earlier this summer.