After eight years, 16 seasons, and over 150 episodes, The Ultimate Fighter has proven to be one of the UFC’s best sources for new talent. The show gave some of the sport’s most recognizable names their first, big break, and continues to provide a proving grounds for UFC hopefuls.
Over a hundred fighters have participated in the show’s various seasons, and many have gone on to have noteworthy careers in MMA. With so many talented competitors, it’s tough to point to a clear winner of a hypothetical “Best of TUF” award. However, there are a number of fighters who seem to be clear front-runners for the distinction of TUF’s best discovery.
Season one in particular held an impressive roster of competitors.
Bobby Southworth found success in MMA after winning two Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championships, beating Vernon White in 2006 and Anthony Ruiz in 2008. Lodune Sincaid won a WEC Light Heavyweight Championship against Dan Molina in 2006.
Diego Sanchez meanwhile won his division in the first season of TUF, and went on to take a crack at BJ Penn’s lightweight title in 2009. Likewise, Josh Koscheck may have lost his title fight against GSP, but still holds an impressive 15 UFC wins. Kenny Florian, meanwhile, had a promising career cut short by an injury, but still managed to earn three title shots.
Outside of that group, Michael Bisping of season three is currently the #4 ranked UFC middleweight; while Nate Diaz (despite his often less than professional conduct) has maintained his top 10 status in the lightweight division for some time. Fellow season 5-er Gray Maynard has likewise made his mark in the division, currently holding the #5 spot.
Out of the pool of over a hundred contestants to appear on The Ultimate Fighter though, only a few have gone on to win a UFC title. Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, and Matt Serra not only won their seasons of TUF, but also went on to claim a championship belt. On the flip side, there has not been a fighter yet to lose the show, but then go on to win a title fight.
Matt Serra may only have an overall record of 11-7, but he had a big win over Georges St-Pierre at UFC 69. Serra and Matt Hughes are the only MMA fighters who were able to blemish St-Pierre’s record, currently leaving Pierre at 25-2.
After winning the first season of TUF, Forrest Griffin racked up a 19-7 record in MMA, and holds high profile wins over fighters like Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Of the three UFC fighters mentioned above though Rashad Evans has the best case for being called the best fighter to hail from The Ultimate Fighter. Evans has accrued a 19-3 record, with a 12-1-1 record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter. He also defeated champion Forrest Griffin by TKO at UFC 92.
Who do you think is the best fighter to come out of The Ultimate Fighter series? One of the fighters mentioned above? Or maybe another of the many, many fighters to take a spot in the TUF house?