Posted by Sabrina B. @gametimegirl
The suspense is over. On multiple fronts.
The 13th season of the reality series ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ finally has its coaches, as UFC president Dana White announced Tuesday that heavyweightsÂ Brock Lesnar and Junior Dos Santos have agreed to fill the roles.
The news also effectively killed any speculation on Lesnar’s future in the UFC. Following a first-round TKO loss to current championÂ Cain Velasquez last October, there had been reports that Lesnar wanted out of his contract.
Not so, said White.
“I liked all the rumors that were going around that Brock didn’t want to do this anymore,” said White, on a national media conference call. “None of that was true. I was in communication with Brock the whole time.”
According to White, an injury to Velasquez had an impact on the promotion’s decision to match up the two heavyweights. Velasquez is expected to be out of action for six-to-eight months due to a torn rotator cuff he suffered in the win over Lesnar.
With Dos Santos (12-1) waiting in the wings for a title shot of his own, the UFC decided to let he and Lesnar (5-2) battle it out for the position of No. 1 contender. Although no official date is in place, White said the two will definitely meet in June.
“There is no interim title,” White said. “These two will coach, then fight. The winner of that fight will fight Cain Velasquez when he’s healthy.”
Dos Santos is undefeated since joining the UFC in 2008. He’s recorded six straight victories in that span, including four first-round finishes.
For Lesnar, the loss to Velasquez was his first since dropping a first-round submission toÂ Frank Mir at UFC 81 in Feb. 2008. His agreement to appear on the show is surprising, as the former pro-wrestling figure is known for dodging media and cameras whenever possible.
White acknowledged as much Tuesday.
“Yeah, it was,” answered White, when asked if it had been difficult to sign Lesnar on to the show. “It’s going to be a tough season. I deal with Brock in very short spurts. The guy only fights two-to-three times a year and it’s always tough. It’s going to be a very interesting six weeks of filming.”
Taping of the show is set to begin later this month. It debuts March 30 on Spike TV.
The season will feature welterweight fighters and follow the same format as recent seasons. A field of 28 fighters is reduced to 14 official cast members by elimination fights usually aired on the first episode.
It will be the first time since the show focused on the 170-pound division since its ninth season, which saw coachesÂ Dan Henderson andÂ Michael Bisping coach opposite one another in a U.S. vs. U.K. contest.
Brett Okamoto covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter atÂ bokamotoESPN.