January 11, 2011
Lesnar, Dos Santos TUF 13 coaches
By DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency
One of the UFC's biggest stars will coach on the new season of 'The Ultimate Fighter.'
Former UFC heavyweight champion -- and noted Canada-basher -- Brock Lesnar (5-2) and weight class's No. 1 contender, Brazilian Junior Dos Santos (12-1), will act as rival coaches on the 13th season of the reality TV show, which begins production later this month in Las Vegas. The two will coach welterweight fighters.
"The guy's a former world champion, he's beat guys and held the title," UFC president Dana White said, bristling at the suggestion Lesnar didn't have enough MMA experience to coach. "No matter what his record is, what the guy has accomplished in the short amount of time that he's been in MMA is incredible.
"He's obviously got a lot that he can teach, and not only him, but the staff that he has around him have a lot to teach young, up and coming guys, and that's what it's really all about."
After making the announcement Tuesday following a conference call to promote the UFC Fight for the Troops 2 event Jan 22. in Fort Hood, Texas, White said the TUF 13 finale fight between Lesnar and Dos Santos could be held in Vancouver.
White would not confirm a date for a second UFC event in B.C. -- the first, UFC 115, was held last June at Rogers Arena -- but rumours have it happening June 11, which would align nicely with the TUF finale.
The winner of the Lesnar-Dos Santos bout will face sidelined heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez for the title when he's healthy. Velasquez injured his shoulder when he beat then-champ Lesnar at UFC 121 in October and will have surgery later this week to fix a torn rotator cuff.
White admitted he originally wanted Dos Santos to face Velasquez in a title fight at UFC 129, the company's inaugural event in Toronto. UFC 129 is set for April 30 at the Rogers Centre, with Georges St. Pierre of Montreal defending his welterweight title against Jake Shields in the main event.
But when it was discovered Velasquez would need shoulder surgery and be out of action for six to eight months, White turned to Plan B -- having Lesnar and Dos Santos coach on TUF then meet in a title eliminator.
"There were a lot of people we were looking at, and then, boom. Cain Velasquez gets hurt," White said. "And I was literally driving to work one morning and I said, 'You know what? (Having them coach on TUF) makes sense. Let's see if we can do this.'"
Somehow White was able to convince the often-prickly Lesnar, who is not exactly the most media-friendly fighter and a little camera shy to boot, that coaching on TUF was a good idea. It's a safe bet Lesnar will get a little testy with cameras following him around for the duration of the TUF 13 shoot.
Having Lesnar coach should help ratings but it likely will have the opposite effect on White's blood pressure.
"I'm already prepared mentally -- it's going to be a tough season," he said. "I deal with Brock in very short spurts. The guy fights two to three times a year, and it's always tough. It's going to be an interesting six weeks of filming.
"(Lesnar) is not exactly a happy-go-lucky guy. Who knows what's going to happen this season. I do know it's going to be very interesting to see."
White also said Canadian Mark Hominick (19-8) will get a featherweight title shot against Jose Aldo in Toronto if he beats American George Roop (11-6) at Fight for the Troops 2 later this month.
A bout between UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture and Lyoto Machida of Brazil is also rumoured to be on the Toronto card.