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TUF 11 to Feature 28 Fighters, New Format

A total of 28 up-and-comers will compete for a six-figure UFC contract on The Ultimate Fighter 11 premiering March 31, Spike TV revealed Friday.

Spike TV also teased a new format for next season, which went into production this week. One clue to what the format is are the 28 contestants, which doesn't fit into the usual 16-man or 32-man (which included elimination round to make it into the house) bracket. Could there be surprise contestants or a way for fighters to win byes?

Coaches on the show for the all-middleweight cast are former champions Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. Both have experience as coaches on the show, with Liddell going against Randy Couture on the first season and Ortiz facing Ken Shamrock in the third.

While not yet official, Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields has said he will serve as assistant coach on Liddell's team and former WEC lightweight champion "Razor" Rob McCullough has said he will be brought on the show to help Ortiz's squad.

UFC has already planned a UFC Fight Night to lead into the March 31 premiere. Kenny Florian and Takanori Gomi are expected to headline the free card in Charlotte, N.C.