Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"
Throw the left over Hot Dogs and Hamburgers in the microwave and fire up the old smart device; The Ultimate Fighter is back Tuesday night at 9 pm on ESPN+. And if that isn't enough New England MMA fans; two of our very own will be competing for their shot as Season 29 welcomes Bantamweights and Middleweights to the desert for one shot at becoming; The Ultimate Fighter. For New England MMA hopefuls; Mitch Raposo (5-0, Bantamweight, Regiment Training Center) and Kemran "Killa Kem" Lachinov (10-3, Team Link Springfield) this opportunity comes knocking at vastly different times in their careers. But an opportunity to showcase their skills in front of Dana White and catch the eyes of MMA fans worldwide, was one neither could afford to pass up.
The Return of The Ultimate Fighter: Season 29, pits Coaches; UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander "The Great" Volkanovski (22-1) and Title Challenger Brian "T-City" Ortega (15-1) as they host the auditions of Bantamweight prospects; Joshua Rettinghouse (16-5), Vince Murdock (11-6), Ricky Turcios (10-2), Liudvik Sholinian (9-1), Mitch Raposo (5-0), Dustin Lampros (5-0), Daniel Argueta (5-0) and Brady Hiestand (4-1), as well as Middleweight prospects; Kemran Lachinov (10-3), Miles Hunsinger (7-0), Gilbert Urbina (6-1), Aaron Phillips (5-1), Andre Petroski (5-1), Bryan Battle (4-1), Ryder Newman (3-1) and Tresean Gore (3-0). As sixteen fighters enter The Ultimate Fighter House and only two men will leave crowned the next Ultimate Fighter.
We knew something was up with Fall River's Mitch Raposo (5-0) when he withdrew from his bout at LFA 101 in March with fellow undefeated prospect Pololu Nakanelua (4-0), a bout which was set to be Raposo's debut as a Flyweight. We also knew whatever forced a healthy Raposo from his LFA and Flyweight debut had to be attached to three letters, UFC. As luck would have it "Killa" Mitch had indeed been tabbed by the UFC to compete on this season of the popular reality show, which makes its highly anticipated return from a three year hiatus this summer.
Regiment Training Center's Raposo has been one of the most highly anticipated prospects to come out of New England since, well...the last time the Ultimate Fighter aired in 2018. As an amateur Raposo went 6-0 with six Unanimous Decision wins, capturing two New England Amateur Titles (Cage Titans and Ammo) while (arguably) never losing a single round. Raposo made his pro debut in 2019 and finished all three opponents he faced that year, dispatching Rob Fuller, Raymond Yanez and Zachary Burhans all by first round finish before following up with Unanimous Decisions over Rob Leon and Matt Almy in 2020. Still at just 22 years of age the sky is the limit for the unbeaten Raposo, who looks to jump-start his already promising career by being crowned "The Ultimate Fighter" at Bantamweight.
Following 13 fights as a professional between the weights of 165 and 175 pounds, Springfield, Massachusetts' Kemran Lachinov (10-3) will make the leap up to Middleweight for his opportunity to showcase his skills in front of UFC brass here on Season 29. At 30 year's old and a veteran of six fights inside the Bellator MMA cage the time has to be 'Now' for the Team Link product who is coming off a pair of uber exciting scraps inside the Bellator cage, including a contender for Fight of the Year last time out in a Decision loss against Undefeated Super Prospect; Shamil Nikaev (10-0). What Lachinov lacks in size he should make up for in experience as Kemran has six more professional fights than his next closest competitor, Miles Hunsinger (7-0).
It will be interesting to see how Kemran Lachinov's 'Kill or Be Killed' attitude will fair in The Ultimate Fighter setting, as Lachinov is known for being in some absolute wars, but in a tournament setting such as TUF you have to be prepared to fight several times over the span of just a few weeks. That being said Lachinov's fights have become can't miss TV recently and I would imagine regardless of the outcome, Lachinov will return home to New England with a slew of new "Killa Kem" fans as he makes his quest to be crowned the Ultimate Fighter at Middleweight.
Raposo, on the other hand, seems to be tailor made for this spot on the show; young, clean cut, well spoken and most of all; talented, Mitch Raposo is the type of kid who comes back from this type of opportunity a Super-Star. Either way, New England MMA fans should block off the nine o'clock hour every Tuesday night for the next 12 weeks as Kemran Lachinov and Mitch Raposo promise to represent New England MMA by shining brightly in the Las Vegas desert this summer. The anticipation comes to an end tomorrow, June 1st, at 9 pm as The Ultimate Fighter Season 29: Team Volkanovski vs. Team Ortega makes its premier streamed live only on ESPN+!