It’s been ten long seasons since The Ultimate Fighter(TUF) made its debut on Spike TV. It can safely be said that TUF is a roaring success. Not only has it helped the UFC discover a whole new legion of fighters, it can also be credited for helping UFC gain mainstream coverage and helping them move into the television sets of the general public. We look back at the ten best fighters to have emerged from the show.
Honourable mention: Mike Swick
Mike ‘Quick’ Swick competed in the inagural season of the Ultimate Fighter, eventually losing to a larger Stephen Bonnar. Mike Swick’s record after the show was over is nothing short of amazing. 9 wins and only 2 losses, with the most recent being a decision against Dan Hardy. He’s also incredibly versatile, going from Light Heavyweight while in the Ultimate Fighter, eventually dropping down to Welterweight, a good 35 pounds lighter. His two losses has to be considered costly though, as on both occasions, he was on the cusp of getting a title shot.
10. Keith Jardine
Keith ‘The Mean’ Jardine has defeated top fighters in Chuck Liddell and Brandon Vera, but have also notched up losses against the likes of Stephen Bonnar (who despite reaching the final of TUF season 1, has never really been at the level of his opponent that night, Forrest Griffin), Houston Alexander (the guy Kimbo Slice defeated in his UFC debut) and Thiago Silva. He’s a decent Light Heavyweight but will probably never come close to the title.
9. Joe Stevenson
Winner of the Ultimate Fighter Season 2, Joe “Daddy” Stevenson has had a tumultous journey in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He’s come close to tasting gold in his fight against BJ Penn for the interm Lightweight title, but eventually fell short.
He’s has notable losses against fellow TUF alum Diego Sanchez and Kenny Florian which has put a blemish on his record.
8. Josh Koscheck
Josh Koscheck lost to eventual winner Diego Sanchez in the first season of the Ultimate Fighter, but he got his revenge when he received a unanimous decision victory over Sanchez in UFC 69. He’s defeated several notable names, including Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson, Frank Trigg, Yoshiyuki Yoshida and Chris Lytle.
He has been defeated 4 times in his UFC career though.
7. Gray Maynard
While on the Ultimate Fighter Fighter season 5, Gray ‘The Bully’ Maynard was not particularly impressive, losing in the semi-finals and drawing in controvesial fashion against Rob Emerson in the finale.
He’s been unstoppable ever since, notching up 6 consecutive victories, and is still the only person who has defeated Frank Edgar. His next fight is against Nate Diaz and a showdown against his TUF coach and current Lightweight champion, BJ Penn is on the horizon. Should he be able to do what Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian and Joe Stevenson have failed and capture the title, he will surge right to the top of the rankings. Till then, he’ll have to be satisfied in this position.
6. Kenny Florian
Kenny ‘Kenflo’ Florian have beaten almost everyone there is to beat in the Lightweight division. His fallen opponents includes Clay Guida, Joe Stevenson, Roger Huerta, Joe Lauzon and Sam Stout.
He would have been ranked alot higher, if not for the fact that he could never beat the very best. He fought both Sean Sherk and BJ Penn for the Lightweight championship, and was not able to overcome that final hurdle on both occasions. His fight with BJ Penn was particularly embarassing, being completely dominated for four rounds before being locked in the rear naked choke and forced to tap out.
5. Diego Sanchez
For those who do not already know, Diego ‘Nightmare’ Sanchez was the winner of the first season, and looked unstoppable while on the show. He continued the impressive streak in the UFC, but has 3 losses to his name thus far. His first loss in the UFC came against Josh Koscheck. He revealed after the fight he had a severe staph infection. A staph infection weakens a fighter. His other loss came against a larger Jon Fitch, and the recent loss to BJ Penn, who is arguably the best fighter ever in the Lightweight division.
4. Michael Bisping
Michael Bisping entered the house with an unbeaten record, and he left the house with his record intact and a new contract to boot, becoming Season 3’s Light Heavyweight winner.
Since then, he has only lost twice, to Rashard Evans (who might still make an appearance in this ranking), and Ben Henderson. Perhaps his hardest test is to come in UFC 110 when he faces former Pride Light Heavyweight Champion, Wanderlei Silva.
3. Matt Serra
The top 3 fighters have all become champions in their respective division. Matt ‘The Terror’ Serra was the winner of Season 4 ‘The Comeback’, earning a shot at the UFC welterweight champion at that time, Georges St.Pierre. Nobody gave him a chance in that fight, and he posted what most consider the biggest upset of the new millemium by catching GSP and then pounded on him before the referee stopped the fight, making him the new Welterweight champion.
He eventually lost it back to GSP in the rematch.
2. Forrest Griffin
The match between Forrest Griffin and Stephen Bonnar to become the Ultimate Fighter is considered by many (myself included) as the best match of the decade in all of Mixed Martial Arts. Griffin eventually came out on top that night.
Here’s a rundown of who’s he defeated, and you’ll understand why he’s here. Stephen Bonnar in a rematch, submitted Mauricio Rua, defeated Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson to become Light Heavyweight champion, and a win against Tito Ortiz, who he lost to earlier in his career. He’s lost the title to the #1 ranked person on this list though, which explains why he’s second best.
1. Rashad Evans
The brash, arrogant jerk from The Ultimate FIghter Season 2 turns out to be quite the fighter after all. Since winning in Season 2, he’s only been defeated once, to current Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida. He’s been able to defeat the likes of Chuck Liddell, Michael Bisping, and Forrest Griffin for the Light Heavyweight title. His record stands at 8-1-1, with a draw coming against Tito Ortiz.
He has been entrenched in the upper echelon of the Light Heavyweight scene, and will be for several years to come.
We shall see what the more recent fighters, like Ryan Bader, Efrain Escudero and Roy Nelson have to offer in a few years down the road.