The Best Ultimate Fighter Winners

Mobile 1
Stephen Hatala

The Ultimate Fighter recently wrapped it’s 29th season awarding two young fighters with UFC contracts. It’s time to take a look back at other Ultimate Fighters that have traveled the same path through the UFC’s longest running show.

The Ultimate Fighter is a mixed martial arts based  reality show commonly labeled as TUF that first aired in 2005. That first season is considered one of the turning points for The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) when it aired. The reality show brought in fighters that were unknown then in a sport that was yet to be as popular as it is now, for a chance at signing with the UFC. It has aired twice a year since it began and has just completed its 29th season.

Similar to Dana Whites Contender Series, the show would pull fighters from regional circuits to give them a chance to get into the UFC. The difference is the fighters are pooled together in the same house, and are usually coached by two tenured fighters in the promotion. Usually the coaches are a champion and contender that can have a fight that would be scheduled for when the season ends. 

The fighters are assigned to the team of one of the coaches and sometimes complete team challenges. The team that wins the challenges gives the coach matching rights for which fighters are going to compete the week of the challenge. The winners advance until there are finalists for the contract (or contracts) up for grabs. The exposure fighters get during their time on the show adds to any potential star power they might have in their UFC career. It has been a path where UFC stars and champions begin and with the growth the UFC has seen in recent years, it’s time to look at some of the best winners of The Ultimate Fighter so far.

1.) Diego Sanchez

TUF Season 1 2005 Middleweight contract winner: 30-14, 2009 lightweight contender

2.) Forrest Griffin

TUF Season 1 2005 Light-heavyweight contract winner: 19-7, UFC Light-heavyweight Champion

3.) Rashad Evans

TUF Season 2 2005 Heavyweight contract winner: 20-8-1, UFC Light-heavyweight Champion

4.) Michael Bisping

TUF Season 3 2006 Light-heavyweight contract winner: 30-9, UFC Middleweight Champion

5.) Matt Serra

TUF Season 4 2006 Welterweight contract winner: 11-7, UFC Welterweight Champion

6.) Nate Diaz

TUF Season 5 2007 Lightweight contract winner: 20-13, UFC Lightweight Title (& BMF Title) Challenger

7.) Ryan Bader

TUF Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir winner (Season 8) and 2008 Light-heavyweight contract winner: 29-7-1, Current Bellator Heavyweight Champion

8.) Roy Nelson

TUF: Heavyweights (Season 10) 2009 Heavyweight contract winner: 23-19

9.) Tony Ferguson

TUF: Team Lesner vs. Team dos Santos (Season 13) and 2011 Welterweight contract winner: 25-6, Interim UFC Lightweight Champion

10.) Carla Esparza

TUF: A Champion Will Be Crowned (Season 20) and 2014 Strawweight contract winner: 18-6, Inaugural Strawweight Champion

TUF now airs on ESPN+ after being on hiatus for a few years and just closed out the Team Volkanovski vs. Team Ortega season that had Alexander Volkanovski recently defend his featherweight title against Brian Ortega at UFC 266. Team Volkanovski fighters Ricky Turcios won the bantamweight contract and Bryan Battle won the middleweight contract.

The show served at a decent promo that led to a great pay-per-view event so don’t expect it to go anywhere. 

Who were your favorite TUF competitors?

Did you like this article?
Thumbs Up
Thumbs Down