Kamaru Usman, Tony Ferguson, and Michael Bisping: The Ultimate Fighter's 10 most successful winners

Alisa Barladyan
08 Aug 2022
22:44

On the night of August 7 at UFC Vegas 59, we saw some interesting fights, including the two finales of the 30th season of the popular reality show The Ultimate Fighter. On the main card, Juliana Miller and Brogan Walker will fight for their UFC contract at women's flyweight, and Mohammed Usman and Zac Pauga will fight in the men's heavyweight division.

In the 30th season, the teams' coaches were Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes.

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Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes

Few people know that in the 2000s, The Ultimate Fighter show saved the UFC from bankruptcy and sparked the public's interest. Today we will look back at ten of the most successful TUF winners, including those who went from no-names to the true legends of the world's premier promotion.

April 9, 2005, is a historical date for the UFC. In the finale of TUF's first season, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar put on an all-out 15-minute showdown. Before the fight, the Fertitta brothers promised the guys a giant heap of money if they put up a war in the octagon.

The fighters didn't let the owners of the organization down. The guys kept pressing on and put on a real show, and the audience was ecstatic. This fight was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Forrest Griffin won by unanimous decision, but Stefan Bonnar also got a contract from Dana White.

After that landmark fight, Forrest Griffin made it to the light heavyweight title fight and defeated Quinton Jackson by unanimous decision. The American would compete in the UFC until 2012 and finish his MMA career with a win over Tito Ortiz.

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The second season of TUF wasn't as heated as the first, but it was also very exciting. Rashad Evans made it to the finals with a record of 5-0 and faced Brad Imes in the main battle of the show. In a close fight, "Sugar" defeated his opponent by a split decision.

After his reality show triumph, Rashad Evans won six more fights and made it to the title bout. In the third round, he sent another TUF winner, Forrest Griffin, to sleep and became the organization's new champion. The American didn't hold the belt for long. Already in his first defense, Lyoto Machida knocked out Evans and became the light heavyweight king.

Rashad would compete in the UFC until 2018 when he suffered five losses in a row and moved on to conquer Eagle FC.

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"The Count" began his journey in the UFC back in 2006. On June 24, Michael took down Josh Haynes in the finale of TUF 3, knocking him out in the second round. The fight was pretty spectacular, so the Brit quickly became the star of the organization. Initially, "The Count" fought in the light heavyweight division, but then he went down to the middleweight division.

For ten long years, Michael was on his way to a title fight until he reached his goal on June 4, 2016. Luke Rockhold didn't see Bisping as a serious opponent, and he paid the price. "The Count" knocked him out in the first round and became the new middleweight king.

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On November 11, 2006, small and stocky Matt Serra snatched victory from Chris Lytle by split decision. After winning the TUF season 4, the American earned the right to fight for the UFC welterweight championship belt.

On April 7, 2007, at UFC 69, Serra sensationally defeated the Canadian star Georges St-Pierre by TKO. Thus, Matt wrote his name in the history of the promotion with bold gold letters, as the author of one of the loudest UFC upsets in history. A year later, St-Pierre got a powerful rematch. Serra then had three more fights in the promotion before announcing his retirement in May 2013.

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"The Stockton Gangster" became the champion of the fifth season of TUF, defeating Manvel Gamburyan in the finals on June 23, 2007. Nate wasn't a UFC champion, although he fought for the belt with Benson Henderson. Diaz's lack of championship regalia doesn't make him any less of a superstar. His dilogy with Conor McGregor, his spectacular performance against Michael Johnson, his convincing win over Anthony Pettis and his battle for the "BMF" belt against Jorge Masvidal - the fans will never forget all these events.

Diaz's contract with the organization expires in October 2022. That's why UFC matchmakers decided to boost another star - Khamzat Chimaev. Nate and Hamzat will meet in the main event of UFC 279 in September.

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On December 13, 2008, in the season eight finale of The Ultimate Fighter, the American demolished Brazilian Vinny Magalhaes in two minutes. Bader's cannon punch was truly impressive. Since his TUF triumph, Ryan has scored four more wins and hit the ceiling called "Jon Jones" with a 12-0 record. Bader lost to the future champion with a guillotine in the second round and then he was choked out by Tito Ortiz.

"Darth" competed in the UFC until late 2016, then moved to Bellator. Ryan did very well in Scott Coker's promotion, winning the light heavyweight and heavyweight titles and knocking out Fedor Emelianenko in the first round of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix final.

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"El Cucuy" signed with the UFC in 2011 to participate in The Ultimate Fighter 13. Tony knocked out his opponent in his first fight on the show with a heel to the jaw and immediately grabbed the public's attention. Ferguson made it to the finale, where he beat Ramsey Nijem in the first round.

From 2013 to 2019, "El Cucuy" won 12 matches in a row, won the interim belt, but never faced Khabib Nurmagomedov. One of the most anticipated fights in UFC history has been called off five times, leaving fans in bitterness.

On May 9, 2020, Tony lost to Justin Gaethje in a fight for the interim lightweight championship belt and didn't know the joy of winning after that (three straight losses).

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On December 15, 2012, the Australian fighter demolished Britain's Brad Scott to win The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. Whittaker won the show at middleweight, but two losses from Court McGee and Stephen Thompson forced Robert to switch divisions. Racing at 170 pounds proved to be too much of a challenge.

Whittaker liked the middleweight division so much that he made it to a title fight with Yoel Romero and defeated him by decision. The fighters originally fought for the interim belt, but Rob was later declared the undisputed champion. Whittaker defeated Romero again in the first defense, but this time by a split decision.

Robert Whittaker
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The author of one of the most high-profile upsets in UFC women's fight history, "The Venezuelan Vixen" won TUF in 2013. Pena knocked out Jessica Rakoczy in the Season 18 finale in the last second of the first round and earned a long-term contract with the organization.

In 2021, Julianna defeated Sara McMann and got a chance for a title fight with Amanda Nunes. At UFC 269, Pena shocked the world by stopping the "Lioness's" winning streak and becoming the new women's featherweight champion.

Pena vs. Rakoczy
Pena vs. Rakoczy
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"The Nigerian nightmare" was the triumphant winner of season 21 of The Ultimate Fighter. On July 12, 2015, Usman caught Hayder Hassan in an arm triangle choke and signed with Dana White's organization. Kamaru has been writing history ever since.

On March 2, 2019, Usman took the belt from Tyron Woodley and became the new light heavyweight king. "The Nigerian Nightmare" is now on a streak of five title defenses and preparing for his fight against Leon Edwards at UFC 278.

Usman is the dominant champion and number one P4P. Kamaru now has a 15-fight winning streak and is one step away from repeating Anderson Silva's record (16). The powerful guy is a second championship and two more victories away from ultimate greatness. After that, "The Nigerian Nightmare" can end his career as a "living legend."

Sometimes TUF shows bring out some really talented fighters. Some become champions of the promotion, some fight for the title, and some leave their name in history. Lately, the TUF show doesn't get as much attention as it used to. Perhaps a season in which Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson will be invited as coaches could raise The Ultimate Fighter's ratings to unprecedented heights.

Source: mma.metaratings

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