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Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber named ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ 15 coaches

Cruz and Faber will usher in the FX version of ‘TUF’ with their rivalry

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Justin M. Bowen

Dominick Cruz (left) faces off with Urijah Faber during the weigh in for UFC 132 Friday, July 1, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The UFC will have ample time to promote its next trilogy fight.

Bantamweights Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber will play up their rivalry for 13 weeks next year as coaches on the 15th season of “The Ultimate Fighter”. The UFC announced Tuesday evening that Cruz (19-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) and Faber (26-5 MMA, 2-1 UFC) would coach the first edition of “TUF” on FX before fighting each other for the bantamweight title next summer.

“I’m not too thrilled about being in each other’s space for an extended period of time, as I am sure we are going to get on each other’s nerves,” Faber said of Cruz in a statement. “But I can’t wait to mentally beat him up as a coach, and then literally beat him up in the cage and swipe that UFC strap.”

“TUF” 15 will feature two tournaments of lightweights and welterweights vying for a six-figure UFC contract. It’s scheduled to debut Friday, March 9, and will air live fights weekly for the first time in the show’s history.

It’s going to take talented fighters to overshadow Cruz and Faber on the reality show. The two are known as the best 135-pound fighters in the world.

“They genuinely dislike each other and I expect this to make for the best season yet,” UFC President Dana White said.

Their feud started in 2007 when Faber submitted Cruz less than two minutes into their featherweight bout at WEC 26. It remains the only blemish on the UFC champion Cruz’s record.

Cruz avenged the defeat this summer at UFC 132 with a unanimous decision win over Faber in one of the best fights of the year. Both went on to lopsided victories afterward — Cruz over Demetrious Johnson at UFC on Versus 6 and Faber against Brian Bowles at UFC 139 — to set up a third meeting.

With the score tied at one, it’s time to add the final chapter in Cruz vs. Faber.

“Anyone who knows me knows I’m a gym rat and love teaching mixed martial arts,” Cruz said. “This is a dream come true. To get a chance to coach ‘TUF’ and beat Faber again is all the motivation I need.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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