Credited by many as the main reason the UFC is where it’s at today, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) has been on a downward spiral for the past several seasons. The current season is set to come to a conclusion Nov. 30 with the winner walking away with a UFC contract.
The relevance of the show can be considered minimal as of late. The last individual to win TUF and have continued success is John Dodson. In the short period of time he has been in the UFC, he has compiled nice 4-1 record, including his victory to take the contract against TJ Dillashaw. He also competed for the flyweight title against Demetrious Johnson, which he lost by unanimous decision.
Since Dodson won the contract there have been several others who have done the same. Those individuals are Diego Brandao (who won the same season as Dodson), Michael Chiesa, Rony Jason, Cezar Ferreira, Colton Smith, Norman Parke, Robert Whittaker, Kelvin Gastelum and Leonardo Santos. All of those names, even though they have only been around a short time, are still under card fighters and will probably be that way for some time.
If we look at the entire history of TUF, out of all 14 seasons only 16 fighters who have participated in TUF have gone on to challenge for a title in any organization. All but one of those came within the first five seasons of the show. Dodson is the outlier.
Of the 16 who competed for a title only five actually won a title. Out those who won the title only one successfully defended his title (Bobby Southworth in Strikeforce). The other four men who won titles in an MMA organization are Lodune Sincaid (WEC), Forrest Griffin (UFC), Rashad Evans (UFC) and Matt Serra (UFC).
The 12 fighters that came up short in their title bids were: Nate Quarry, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck, Joe Stevenson, Keith Jardine, Patrick Cote, Manny Gamburyan, Gray Maynard, Nate Diaz and Dodson.
Evans and Michael Bisping are the only two TUF winners who are still relevant in their respective divisions. Diaz still has footing in the lightweight division and Dodson will hang around the top of the flyweight division for a while.
Matt Brown, TUF season 7 contestant, has been able to climb into the welterweight title discussion with his recent six-fight win streak. He will fight Carlos Condit in his next outing.
Whomever wins TUF: Rousey vs. Tate will have a long and possibly disappointing road ahead of them. Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to MMA. If the winner doesn’t deliver in the end and ends up on a UFC under card, he/she will be following in the footsteps of many TUF winners in the past.