Top 5 Ultimate Fighter Success Stories In The UFC
Rising to Fame on The Ultimate Fighter
The 18th Season of the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter is set to wrap this coming weekend in Las Vegas. With another season about to finish up, I thought that it would be an appropriate time to examine what in my mind are the Top 5 current UFC TUF alumni.
It’s safe to say that the reality show has spawned some terrific fighters over the years. However, it’s no secret that the winners of the last few seasons haven’t quite had the impact that they had been hoping for. However, Season 14 winner John Dodson is definitely making a name for himself in the flyweight division, Season 15 winner Michael Chiesa is performing well in the lightweight ranks, while Season 17 champ Kelvin Gastelum looks like he is going to be one to contend with after deciding on a career move to welterweight.
Meanwhile, this season, which featured women’s bantamweight archrivals Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate as coaches has produced plenty of drama, hasn’t translated into successful ratings. The UFC is hoping that B.J. Penn returning for TUF Season 19 to coach against Frankie Edgar and then have their trilogy fight will provide a spark. Only time will tell as to whether that will be the case, or whether the reality show concept has simply run its course.
What we do know, is that The Ultimate Fighter has produced a number of great fighters. There have been those who made a career for themselves on the show and despite not winning it, still went on to enjoy lengthy and successful careers. There have also been TUF winners who have gone on to win gold inside the Octagon including upset king Matt Serra, who is the last man to have defeated George St.Pierre. along with UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans. Here are my selections when it comes to the Top 5 TUF Alumni who are currently active in the UFC.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports
5. Josh Koscheck
Koscheck immediately became a villain during the inaugural season with some of his antics. He’s fought as many times inside the Octagon as anyone in history. While his career is on the downside with a third straight loss to Tyron Woodley that has him seriously pondering retirement, he has been in with many of the sport’s top competitors during his career. Koscheck had a failed title shot against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 124 in Montreal. He showed a tremendous amount of courage lasting the distance despite suffering a broken orbital bone. He did a great job wearing the black hat in the promotion against the ultra good-guy in GSP. Koscheck was a pure wrester during his TUF Season 1 appearance and worked hard at his craft to add a much-improved standup game that featured plenty of power. He coached against St.Pierre in TUF Season 12.
While not winning gold, Koscheck has gone 15-8 in his lengthy UFC career and remains one of the more famous or perhaps shall we say infamous characters from that original TUF season. President Dana White who has a soft spot for the members of that original season, remains hopeful that “Kos” will continue his career.
4. Gray Maynard
Maynard has had a solid career including one of the best trilogies in UFC history against Frankie Edgar. Maynard came tremendously close to claiming gold at UFC 125 only to be denied the lightweight championship when his epic fight against “The Answer” ended in a draw. Maynard had Edgar rocked and stumbling across the Octagon in a brutal opening round but couldn’t finish. Maynard was stopped in a subsequent title rematch against Edgar where “The Bully” again hammered the champion in the opening round only to fall short. Maynard most recently was knocked out by T.J. Grant in a title eliminator at UFC 160. He hopes to rejuvenate his career when he battles fellow TUF alumni and Season 5 winner Nate Diaz at the TUF 18 finale. Maynard lost to Diaz in the semi-final of TUF season 5, but did defeat Diaz in a later rematch.
3. Michael Bisping
There aren’t many who enjoy playing the villain more than Bisping. The “Count” has been a regular headliner in the U.K. but has never been able to secure a title shot during his career. He’s been in with solid competition in both the light-heavyweight and middleweight divisions. He lost three middleweight title eliminators including most recently a knockout loss at the hands of Vitor Belfort. Bisping has returned to TUF to coach on two occasions, once against Dan Henderson and the other against Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Bisping won the TUF Season 3 light-heavyweight title by defeating Josh Haynes via TKO.
2. Diego Sanchez
Sanchez has been involved in some of the greatest fights in UFC history. His all-action style was again on full display in a sensational tilt at UFC 166 against Gilbert Melendez. Sanchez has provided many a thrill to UFC fans but has never been able to win gold. He failed in his effort to win the lightweight title at UFC 107, when he lost to B.J. Penn. Sanchez has been in with strong competition in both the 155 and 170 pound weight classes. He captured the TUF Season 1 middleweight title by defeating Kenny Florian via a first-round TKO.
1. Rashad Evans
As “Suga” showed at UFC 167, he’s still got game after dominating and finishing Chael Sonnen in the first round of their light-heavyweight fight. He captured the 205-pound title by knocking out Griffin at UFC 92. Evans failed in a bid to win back the light-heavyweight crown against Jon Jones but still is a threat in the division thanks to his wrestling skills, speed, athleticism and power. He holds two of the more spectacular knockouts in Octagon history against Chuck Liddell and Sean Salmon. Evans won the TUF Season 2 heavyweight title by defeating Brad Imes via split decision.