Season 31 of The Ultimate Fighter already became a must-see event with the announcement of Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler as coaches, and now the rosters have been released. A preliminary roster featuring the bantamweights and lightweights that will make up Team McGregor and Team Chandler leaked on social media, though no formal announcement has been made.
A glance at the proposed roster feels more in line with the subtext between the upcoming McGregor vs. Chandler bout at the end of the season. That subtext being this is the last big chance these fighters have to make a statement.
Nearly half the bantamweights are over 35 years old. The lightweights skew slightly younger, but features a swath of also-rans. While TUF contestants aren’t normally world beaters during or after the show, there are few names that stand out of this bunch.
The proposed roster is as follows:
- Kenneth Cross (13-3) 28-YEARS-OLD FORMER DWCS
- Lucas Clay (9-2) 27-YEARS-OLD
- Mitch Ramirez (6-0) 30-YEARS-OLD
- Austin Hubbard (15-6) 31-YEARS-OLD, 3-4 IN THE UFC
- Jason Knight (22-7) 30-YEARS-OLD, 4-5 IN THE UFC
- Aaron McKenzie (11-2-1) 34-YEARS-OLD
- Dakota Bush (10-4) 28-YEARS-OLD, O-2 IN THE UFC
- Loik Radzhabov (16-4-1) 31-YEARS-OLD
- Anthony Birchak (15-8) 36-YEARS-OLD, 2-4 IN THE UFC
- Kris Moutinho (9-6) 30-YEARS-OLD, O-2 IN THE UFC
- Cody Gibson (19-8) 35-YEARS-OLD, 1-3 IN THE UFC
- Hunter Azure (10-3) 30-YEARS-OLD, 2-2 IN THE UFC
- Rico Disciullo (11-2) 36-YEARS-OLD, FORMER DWCS
- Trevor Wells (8-3) 27-YEARS-OLD
- Carlos Vera (12-3) 35-YEARS-OLD
- Mando Gutierrez (8-2) 25-YEARS-OLD, FORMER DWCS
- Timur Valiev (18-3) 33-YEARS-OLD, 2-1-0-1 IN THE UFC
- Manny Lozoya (5-1) 33-YEARS-OLD,
Radzhabov, Valiev stand out as early favorites
From the looks of it, Radzhabov is probably the best out of the lightweight bunch and Valiev should be an odds-on favorite to win for the bantamweights.
Valiev was on the verge of potentially getting ranked at bantamweight and gave Umar Nurmagomedov pure hell ahead of his release from the UFC. When he’s up against a competitor pool that consists of punch-sponge Kris Moutinho and the aging Birchak, any other outcome would be an upset.
Radzhabov has a deeper group to compete against. Knight and Bush were prospective talents who hit rough waters, and Cross was a competitor on Dana White’s Contender Series. The PFL veteran will have his hands full, but the lightweight group does look to have the more competitive group overall.
With filming of the new season underway, and the added bonus of being part of hyping potentially the biggest fight of the year, this might be the biggest season the show has had in years.
We’ll know more about the final list of fighters and the team split closer to the show’s air date on ESPN this May.