The now two-time TUF coach is allegedly axing three winners of the selection rounds in favor of fighters he knows.
Months away from its premiere, the 31st season of The Ultimate Fighter has already been hit with controversy. Responding to a tweet from MMA Orbit regarding the TUF 31 roster, sports agent Daniel Rubenstein stated that TUF coach Connor McGregor has replaced three fighters who earned a spot on his team with fighters he already knows.
Ken Cross, Mitch Ramirez and Brandon Jenkins all got pulled off to make room for 3 of Conor’s guy to be on the show.
— Daniel Rubenstein (@dannyrube) February 17, 2023
It is unclear how finalized the roster was before MMA Orbit published their list. Soon after this exchange, UFC Middleweight Chris Curtis seemingly confirmed Rubenstein’s allegation as he personally knew the cut fighters.
It’s most definitely true. Guys I know got bounced
— Chris Curtis The Action Man (@Actionman513) February 17, 2023
This is not McGregor’s first time using TUF to advance his acquaintance’s careers, previously giving former friend Artem Lobov a spot on team Europe during TUF 22. Although, each coach was allowed the chance to bring an eliminated fighter back onto their team, and this appears to be a much different situation.
TUF 31 is set to air this May on ESPN, setting up coaches McGregor and Michael Chandler to headline a PPV in late 2023.
Kevin Bradley is a Jersey-based grappling journalist for Bloody Elbow. He began writing for the site in 2022, and has covered both BJJ and MMA news since 2018. (full bio)