UFC : Ultimate Fighter Graduates
Who’s Performed The Best Since Leaving The Show?
As the twelfth season of The Ultimate Fighter comes to a close, we can’t help but look back at how far this show has come in the last 5 years. Many can point to the fact that the show was influential in the new found mainstream growth that the sport of Mixed Martial Arts has experienced since the show’s inaugural season.
While there have been a total of three UFC champions along with a slew of household names that have been produced by the show, one would wonder what the overall success rate is for a TUF champion?
The folks here at RealSportsNet have constructed a sort of “where are they now?” ranking list of the previous 11 seasons of TUF champions.
1 - Rashad Evans, season two heavyweight winner, 9-1-1 since winning TUF
After defeating the massive 6-foot-8, 265 pound Brad Imes via split decision on the TUF season 2 finale, Evans immediately realized that he was too small to stay at heavyweight.; so the first thing Evans did was drop to light heavyweight where he’s had a massive amount of success.
Evans has main evented seven pay-per-view shows, knocked out the legendary Chuck Liddell, and most notably captured the 205-lb. championship from Forrest Griffin at UFC 92. His only loss was at UFC 98 in Las Vegas, dropping the title to Lyoto Machida.
Last year, Evans’ career came full circle when he was tapped to came back to the tenth season of the Ultimate Fighter as coach which served as the set up to a match with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson earlier this year at UFC 114.
After his victory over Jackson, Evans is now on ice until current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua recovers from a recent knee surgery.
2. Forrest Griffin, season one light heavyweight winner, 7-4 since winning TUF
With a nickname like “The Original Ultimate Fighter” there is no question that Forrest Griffin definitely lands near the top of the list for his post TUF accomplishments.
To express what kind of impact that Griffin’s contribution to the UFC let alone the sport of MMA would take a millennium. It all began on a spring evening on April 9, 2005, where TUF season 1 finalists Griffin and his opponent, Stephen Bonnar had a legendary battle.
In that fight, Griffin won the decision over Bonnar, which is credited with sealing the deal on the future of the company, because it led to UFC signing a long-term contract with Spike TV. Griffin has since main evented five pay-per-views, including two of the top six grossing events in MMA history.
Griffin’s popularity was due to the fact that he’s viewed as more of a mid-level talent who overachieved and would never quit under adversity. Surprisingly, more often-than-not Griffin was able to produce great fights against the likes of Bonnar, Tito Ortiz, and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. While you would have never figured him to be a champion, he managed to overcome the odds and defeat then champ, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson for the Light Heavyweight championship at UFC 86.
Although his career has suffered a few setbacks with a loss of his title to Rashad Evans at UFC 92 and a devastating defeat at the hands of pound-for-pound standout Anderson Silva, Griffin still remains a top level Light Heavyweight, and is scheduled to take on Rich Franklin early next year.
3. Diego Sanchez, season one middleweight winner, 11-4 since winning TUF
Sanchez would probably be No. 1 on the list if he would have taken the lightweight championship from BJ Penn when the two met at UFC 107 last year. Since winning TUF season 1 as a middleweight, Sanchez quickly dropped to welterweight. After being outsized and outmuscled in losing a unanimous decision to Josh Koscheck at UFC 69 and another loss to Jon Fitch at UFC 74, he again dropped down another weight class.
During his run at 155, Sanchez beat division standouts like Clay Guida and Joe Stevenson, which earned him a title shot at BJ Penn. Needless to say, Penn destroyed “Nightmare” with relative ease.
Recently at UFC 121, Sanchez in just his second fight after a return to Welterweight made a strong showing against Paulo Thiago which earned him a unanimous decision victory.
4. Michael Bisping, season three light heavyweight winner, 9-3 since winning TUF
Up to this point, no fighter became as big a star while the show was going on as the U.K.’s most famous MMA fighter. Bisping, now 31, dominated the competition and came away with a rock star-like popularity. Many consider “The Count” to be the poster boy for expanding the UFC’s profile in the UK.
Coaching Team U.K. in season nine against the laid-back Dan Henderson ended up making him one of the company’s top villains in the U.S., while at the same time making him even more popular in the U.K. Bisping rebounded from the first knockout of his career at the hands of Henderson in a high-profile UFC 100 match and finished Denis Kang at UFC 105.
5. Matt Serra, season four welterweight winner. 2-3 since winning TUF
Serra won “The Comeback” season, in which veteran fighters returned to the UFC, with a title shot going to the winner. In what many would consider the biggest upset in UFC history, Serra knocked out welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 69 to become the first person to go from TUF to champion. Serra followed that up by doing one of the greatest hype jobs in company history in building the rematch against St. Pierre, held in Montreal, before a record-setting crowd. Serra, now 36, lost the title, and then lost a close decision in a grudge match with former champion Matt Hughes at UFC 98.
6. Ryan Bader, season eight light heavyweight winner, 4-0 since winning TUF
A former two-time All-American wrestler at Arizona State, Bader has been the most promising of recent season winners, with a perfect 12-0 overall record. Recording notable wins over Keith Jardine and Antônio Rogério Nogueira, Bader will now get set to take on his biggest test to date: Jon Jones.
7. Joe Stevenson, season two welterweight winner, 7-5 since winning TUF
Like several winners, Stevenson, 28, after winning the show, dropped a weight class, going down to lightweight. Stevenson won his first four 155-pound fights before losing a Lightweight title bloodbath to BJ Penn at UFC 80.He’s become a fighter who generally loses to the top contenders, like Sanchez and Kenny Florian, but beats the guys in the middle of the pack. His next fight is next month at UFC 124 against fellow TUF alumni Mac Danzig.
8. Nate Diaz, season five lightweight champion, 7-3 since winning TUF
Diaz, 25, rebounded from consecutive decision losses to Clay Guida and Stevenson, with a win over Melvin Guillard at UFC Fight Night 19. In his ten matches, he’s gotten four Fight of the Night bonuses as well as two best submission bonuses, putting him in the category of a very entertaining and popular mid-card fighter. The younger brother of Strikeforce star Nick Diaz next faces Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 125 in January.
9. Kendall Grove, season three middleweight champion, 6-4 since winning TUF
The 6-foot-6, 185-pounder from Maui, has always walked the fine line between employment and being bounced from the UFC with a mix of wins and losses since winning TUF season 3. “Da Spyda” looks to take on BJJ specialist Demian Maia at next month’s TUF season 12 finale.
10. Amir Sadollah, season seven middleweight champion, 3-2 since winning TUF
The only person to win the show without ever previously fighting MMA professionally, the 30-year-old former kickboxer surprisingly submitted everyone he fought on TUF. While his career has been plagued by injuries, Sadollah, who hosts UFC interview segments on Spike TV came back and beat lightly regarded Phil Baroni via decision in an exciting fight at UFC 106.
11. Roy Nelson, season 10 heavyweight champion, 1-1 since winning TUF
Nelson, an MMA veteran came into the show being able to boast the title of the last IFL heavyweight champion prior to the promotion folding in 2008. While not necessarily looking like what you could consider a fighter, Nelson is an accomplished ground specialist and has an incredible chin. This fact was clearly proven in his slobber knocker of a bout with Junior Dos Santos at UFC 117.
12. Travis Lutter, season four middleweight champion, 1-3 since winning TUF
Lutter is the only former winner no longer in UFC. His win in “The Comeback” season guaranteed him a title shot at Anderson Silva on February 3, 2007, in Las Vegas. But that ended as a double whammy, as Lutter failed to make weight for the fight, then lost via triangle choke in 2:11 of the second round after he actually won the first round. After a loss to Rich Franklin, he was then cut and has only fought once since, winning a decision over Jason MacDonald at MFC 22 for Maximum Fighting Championships.
13. Mac Danzig, season six welterweight champion, 2-4 since winning TUF
Danzig, 30, was the only experienced fighter in a weak season 6 cast. He quickly dropped to lightweight after winning, but hasn’t really managed to put together a string of wins which would represent his performance during his time on TUF.
- Posted In: MMA | Will Anderson | MMA Stats and Rankings | UFC | MMA General
- Tags: Amir Sadollah | Diego Sanchez | Forrest Griffin | Joe Stevenson | Kendall Grove | Mac Danzig | Matt Sera | Michael Bisping | MMA | Nate Diaz | Rashad Evans | Roy Nelson | Ryan Bader | The Ultimate Fighter | Travis Lutter | UFC | Will Anderson