Michael Chandler didn’t get a lot of time to plan his strategy for The Ultimate Fighter 31 but he put together a team to get ready to go to war with Conor McGregor for the next six weeks.
The one-time UFC title challenger arrived in Las Vegas a few days ago and he’s now assembled a group of coaches to help him lead his team, which is expected to consist of lightweights and bantamweights.
Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader will serve as one of the assistant coaches helping Chandler throughout the season after he captured The Ultimate Fighter season 8 championship back in 2008.
Bader posted a photo on his Instagram revealing the rest of the coaching staff, which includes grappling specialist Robert Drysdale, striking coach Jason Strout and wrestling coach Greg Jones.
Just days after he was announced as a coach for the reality show, Chandler told MMA Fighting that he was still trying to figure out his coaching staff because there was limited time available between the time he got the gig to actually leaving for Las Vegas to begin filming.
“I didn’t get a lot of time to plan and No. 2, I’m not giving anybody I ask a ton of time to plan,” Chandler said. “I’ve got a phenomenal team down in Florida. I would love to have Henri Hooft there with me every step of the way. In my mind, he’s the best head coach and best striking coach on the planet but asking him to leave the team for ‘X’ amount of weeks, is tough.
“We’ve got a very short window of time to figure this whole thing out and I’d imagine most of the team, I’ll have a couple of mainstays that will be there most of the time and I’ll also be able to bring guys in week to week, a couple days here, a week here, and really just put together the variety of specialties that my team is going to need.”
Chandler mentioned the possibility of bringing in longtime teammate Gilbert Burns, although he’s in the middle of his own training camp to prepare for a fight against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 287 in April.
Interim Bellator welterweight champion Logan Storley, who also counts Chandler as one of his main teammates at Kill Cliff MMA in Florida, told MMA Fighting that he would gladly lend a helping hand if needed after his own fight against Yaroslav Amosov at Bellator 291 in Dublin on Feb. 25.
Both Strout and Jones are mainstays at Kill Cliff MMA so it’s impossible to know for certain if they’ll both stay for the duration of filming or come and go as time is available to them. Typically, The Ultimate Fighter films for approximately six to seven weeks before airing on television.
As for McGregor, he also arrived in Las Vegas this week to prepare for filming and his only photo from set thus far showed him with longtime head coach John Kavanagh.
The first glimpse at the season will happen on May 30 when the show debuts on ESPN at 10 p.m. ET with the series running through August.