UFC: Ranking Every TUF Season from Worst to First
Depending on which MMA fan you ask, The Ultimate Fighter is either can't miss television or set to record on the DVR at best.
But whether you love or hate the UFC's reality series, you have to admit that it's had fascinating moments throughout the years.
From Matt Serra winning the comeback season and beating Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight title, to Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar's war in the first ever finale, to Rashad Evans and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's epic trash talk in the 10th season, the show has provided exceptional entertainment for the past seven years.
After completing 15 seasons, it's time to take a look back at the best seasons of TUF, from worst to first.
15. TUF 13
Having Brock Lesnar on The Ultimate Fighter is going to be great, right? Wrong.
Lesnar was always portrayed in the eyes of MMA fans as a ticking timebomb, so being forced around cameras and his future opponent, everyone just knew that he would eventually go into a rampage.
But he never did. And not only that, but there was very little drama in the house. The fights weren't that great, and we've yet to see the talent from the show branch out and launch into superstardom.
Granted, they've only had a year's time, but still. The interactions between Junior dos Santos and Lesnar was less than expected, and with all of these elements combining together, this season was just a complete bust.
14. TUF 6
Though Matt Hughes and Matt Serra's rivalry was entertaining, the sixth season was still bland.
As you should know, Serra can bring life to any fight or any show, but not even Serra could make this season entertaining. The reason for that was the lack of talent on the show.
The season had Mac Danzig, George Sotiropoulos and Ben Saunders, and that was about it. What was so frustrating about this season was that it was building toward an eventual Danzig/Sotiropoulos showdown that fans never got to see.
Sotiropoulos was knocked out by Tommy Speer in the semifinals, and then Danzig, along with other UFC fighters in the future, mopped the floor with Speer.
13. TUF 11
I'll admit that anytime you have Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz interacting with one another, it makes for great television. Too bad it never led to anything.
The 11th season of TUF was filled with great moments such as Court McGee overcoming his past and winning the show and Liddell getting to show Ortiz his post-fight celebration again after beating him in dodgeball.
But this season was plagued with injuries, starting with Ortiz. Ortiz had to have surgery on his neck, which forced him out of the trilogy fight with Liddell and off the show near the end of the season.
And that wasn't the only injury that took steam away from the season. Perhaps the best fighter on the show, Nick Ring, was forced to withdraw from the competition for a knee injury. Though the season had glimpses of greatness, I'm afraid we'll never truly know how great the season could have actually been.
12. TUF 12
Hands down, the best moment of TUF 12 was Georges St-Pierre raising the roof after fooling Josh Koscheck.
After baiting Koscheck into selecting Marc Stevens by showing Koscheck that he had Stevens No. 1 on his list, St-Pierre picked Michael Johnson, who was thought to be the best fighter on the show. It was a great tactic, but GSP's celebration in the sit-down interview was even better.
As for the fighting that took place on the season, well, it was decent. You had exciting fighters like Alex "Bruce Leroy" Caceres and Nam Phan, and "s*** got real" with Cody McKenzie.
But the fighters that would reach the finale (Johnson and Jonathan Brookins) did their fair share of laying and-praying. To their credit, they're much more exciting these days.
11. TUF Live 1 (TUF 15)
The first season to take place on FX was, and looks, to be the only time TUF adopted the live format.
If you enjoy seeing fighters train, little interaction between the coaches, little-to-no drama in the house and some pretty entertaining fights, this was your season.
This season featured great fighters like Justin Lawrence and Al Iaquinta throwing down, while also playing up the Cinderella story of Mike Chiesa winning the show despite losing his dad.
And while most fans are either totally against the drama or simply watch it for the drama, I'll admit that I like a nice medium. First and foremost, there has to be great fights, and secondly, there needs to be an entertainment value in the house. Otherwise, you're just watching fighters train for 40 minutes. This turned out to be the vice for TUF Live 1.
10. TUF 7
"Show me the animal, Maaaa---tt!"
While it wasn't the highlight of the season, Forrest Griffin's voice shrieking during a Matt Brown fight was priceless and sort of summarizes the season best.
Boy oh boy, TUF 7 was interesting to say the least. From Matt Brown to Matthew Riddle to Amir Sadollah to Tim Credeur to Jesse Taylor, you had a barrage of characters. But what else would you expect when the coaches are Forrest Griffin and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson?
The season was full of entertaining bouts, with the war between Sadollah and Brown easily being the best fight of the season. The interactions taking place between the coaches was mostly in good fun, but that's not to say that they didn't have their heated moments.
Heck, it wouldn't be TUF without Rampage getting angry and smashing a door to pieces.
9. TUF 2
Ever wonder why Rashad Evans gets a bad rep?
Watch the video embedded in the slide and you'll see why people are turned off by Evans' flamboyant behavior. And for those that say "that was six plus years ago," look at LeBron James as a reminder of how unforgiving sports fans can be.
After all, he only made one decision to play along other great players, and yet, he's the scapegoat of everything. But that's enough about basketball. Shifting gears toward the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, it was a big dropoff from the original.
Sure, it had compelling moments with Melvin Guillard pranking White, and Evans getting into it with Matt Hughes, but for the most part, the season was lackluster. Maybe, that's because there was no Chris Leben around the house to keep things interesting.
8. TUF 9
Heading into the ninth season of TUF, something was needed to revive the reality series.
In came the idea of having an All-American team coached by Dan Henderson take on an All-British team coached by Michael Bisping. It was a great idea, but it was too bad they couldn't get better American fighters.
From the get-go, it was easy to see that the British fighters were far better than the Americans. Team USA had DeMarques Johnson, and that was about it. As for Team U.K., well, they had Ross Pearson, Andre Winner, Nick Osipczak and James Wilks. Pearson and Wilks would ultimately win the show for the British.
And while the British won the battle, America would win the war with a patented H-Bomb.
7. TUF 8
TUF 8 took pranks to another level.
For those that care more about what goes on in the house rather than the fights taking place on the show, this had to be your favorite season.
From violating their own food and seeing the opposing team eat it, to Junie Browning making an absolute fool of himself, it was almost like watching Jersey Shore. You don't want to admit that you're watching it, but you just can't help but sit and watch the train wreck develop.
And though the show was heavy on the pranks, talented fighters such as Ryan Bader, Krzysztof Soszynski, Tom Lawlor, George Roop and Efrain Escudero did emerge from the season.
6. TUF 3
Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock coaching opposite of one another was a recipe for success.
Ortiz always knew how to push Shamrock's buttons, and just about every verbal encounter ended with Shamrock turning redder than Ortiz' jersey.
And though the talent on the show wasn't overwhelming, the season did have great fighters like Michael Bisping, Matt Hammill, Kendall Grove and Ed Herman.
The highlight of the season has to be a tossup between Ortiz and Shamrock's confrontation that saw Shamrock call him a "b**** monkey" and Herman vs. Grove turning into a wildly entertaining finale.
5. TUF 5
Wait a minute, Nick Diaz has a brother and he's going to be on TUF?
That was my immediate reaction when I found out Nate Diaz was going to be on the fifth season, so I was pumped to say the least. Add in the fact that Jens Pulver and B.J. Penn were going to be the coaches, and I had beyond high expectations.
The show met every single one of them. The fights inside the Octagon, as well as outside between Noah Thomas and Marlon Sims, were fun to watch. And as for the backyard brawl, that was the most technical street fight you'll ever see.
Other than the first season and maybe the fourth, this season had the most talent on the show. The most notable fighters were Diaz, Manny Gamburyan, Gray Maynard, Cole Miller and Matt Wiman.
4. TUF 14
TUF 14 is unbelievably underrated.
Following a lackluster 13th season, TUF 14 suffered from a stale perception, and because of that, a lot of fans didn't tune into the show.
Those that did saw one of the best seasons yet. Michael Bisping and Jason "Mayhem" Miller's back-and-forth banter and pranks on one another was hilarious, but that wasn't what made this season great.
Rather, it was the bantamweights and featherweights showing off their skills. The fights were marvelous, and all John Dodson, Dennis Bermudez, Diego Brandao, John Albert and Johnny Bedford did was put on a show. Seriously, if you skipped out on that season for any reason, go try and watch those fights ASAP.
3. TUF 10
Had the fights not been as poor as they were, TUF 10 would have topped all previous seasons.
Never has there been a more intriguing season, as the casual fans were glued to the TV because of Kimbo Slice. And they stayed glued to their television sets due to Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson.
Jackson and Evans went at one another numerous times, and the most intense moment in TUF history came when both men were face-to-face and ready to strike.
Evans taunted Jackson by telling him to make it happen, and it was apparent just how badly Jackson wanted to dim Evans' lights. It never resulted to blows, but it made for some great drama. But then again, drama was expected every week between these two.
2. TUF: The Comeback
Due to the success TUF: The Comeback had, I'm really surprised the UFC has yet to do this again.
Bringing in fighters that have recently struggled with their careers and putting them in the same atmosphere that they've put UFC hopefuls was pure genius.
Rather than fighting for a contract, they fought to resurrect their careers and earn a title shot against Georges St-Pierre. Obviously, the best part about it was that Serra won the show and then defeated GSP to become the new champion.
However, the most fascinating aspect of the season was that you already knew the fighters' personalities going into the house, and therefore, you were already invested into the competition.
1. TUF 1
Nothing will ever outdo the original.
It had everything. The roster, the coaches, the fights and the drama in the house were all perfect.
UFC greats Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, Chris Leben, Diego Sanchez, Nate Quarry, Kenny Florian and Josh Koscheck highlighted the all star cast with Leben providing most of the drama. Throw in two of the greatest fighters of all time, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture, as their head coaches, and you've got yourself must-see television.
What made this season special was the fact that it showed the masses that these Mixed Martial Artists aren't barbarians, and though they might have a few problems, they are regular people. Oh, and it introduced the world to the brash personality of UFC president Dana White with his famous "do you want to be a f****** fighter?" speech.
But as you know, the reason I'm able to post an article like this on a mainstream sports news site is because of the legendary scrap between Griffin and Bonnar in the finale. It started the boom for MMA.