The Ultimate Fighter 17 is right around the corner, and the cast has just been announced by the UFC (via MMAJunkie.com). The season features a middleweight tournament field with a good amount of notable talent.
It has also been said that the cast is terrified of one fighter in particular in the house. Though we do not know who that is yet, we can speculate who the top favorites will be.
Here are the five favorites to win the show this season.
Tor Troeng is the guy I suspect is scaring the living daylights out of the cast, but that is just a hunch.
Troeng is a Swedish prospect who is very well-rounded and has good experience against talented opposition. The 15-4-1 Swede has beaten European notables Mats Nilsson, Robert Jocz and Andre Reinders in three of his last four fights.
He has knockout power and good knowledge on the ground. His well-roundedness makes him an early favorite for the show.
Uriah Hall has terrorized the East Coast regional circuit in his career, knocking out and submitting most challengers. He has run a 7-2 record in his pro career, with his only setbacks coming to top-10 UFC talents Chris Weidman and Costa Philippou.
Hall has crazy power in his striking. The Team Tiger Schulmann product is a diverse striker who uses his hands and feet to cripple opponents.
This will be a great experience for Hall, who will get great guidance on his developing ground game. Either way, his power striking is enough to call him an early favorite.
Robert "Bubba" McDaniel is a big middleweight at 6'3" and could use that size and length to his advantage this season.
McDaniel is a 20-plus fight veteran whose experience will be key—his experience against talented fighters, in particular.
McDaniel owns victories over TUF alum Kyacey Uscola, Bellator vet Billy Horne, striking ace Kala Hose and Johnny Rees. He has also put on competitive bouts in losing efforts against notables Alexander Shlemenko and Gerald Harris.
Bubba is very talented on the ground, submitting 15 foes with a number of different submission techniques. He may be one of the best grapplers on the show.
Josh Samman, 9-2, is not the most well-known fighter on the show, but he has the skills and power to make a run at the finale.
The Bellator and XFC veteran owns a notable victory over UFC veteran Chris Cope via knockout, which shows he can hang with tough competition. Samman is well-rounded, but his powerful striking is probably his best attribute.
Power comes natural in most cases, and Samman is a very powerful man. Expect big things to come from this big middleweight.
Two-time Strikeforce veteran Kevin Casey will get his shot at the UFC as a cast member on this season of TUF. The underrated Casey is a submission specialist training with Rickson Gracie, so you know his grappling is top-notch.
His only two losses are to folk hero Ikuhisa Minowa in his pro debut and Olympic wrestler Matt Lindland. Other than that, he has seen success in beating guys like Reggie Orr and Chad Vance.
Competitors on the show would be smart to stay standing with Casey unless they can stifle his submission game on the ground. Casey is a scary fighter and has a great chance of running the table.