A funny little thing came tucked into the news conference that followed UFC 160. To the surprise of the assembled media, former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin, who hadn't fought in nearly a year and had no apparent connection to the event (beyond the fact that it was promoted by a promotion that also once promoted him), announced his retirement.
Maybe it's just me and my feeble mind, but it seemed a little anticlimactic. Then again, it provided some nice symmetry after a fashion, as it brought to mind the manner in which Griffin diluted the retirement announcement of another famous fighter, Mr. Tito Ortiz, who Griffin oddly interviewed in the cage after Ortiz's final fight.
So it was all a little strange, is what I'm saying. At least to me. But I don't know, really. I'm not a fight promoter.
In any event, it's been a long journey since The Ultimate Fighter 1, when Griffin first arrived in the national consciousness. But did you know there were other people in the cast? And I don't mean Stephan Bonnar. No, I looked it up. There were 16 guys on that show, with half coached by Chuck Liddell and the other half coached by Randy Couture.
What became of those guys, anyway? Here's a full rundown. Ready to feel old? Great, let's go.
Pro Record: 0-1
Jason Thacker was TUF 1's token walk-on. But there would be no Rudy moment for Thacker. Instead of his teammates laying their jerseys on the coach's desk in support, Chris Leben laid his urine stream on Thacker's bed in derision.
Thacker had no fights under his belt when he stepped in front of the cameras, and soon found the entire "fighting experience" much to his disliking. Then came the Chris Leben bed pee. Then he was kicked off the show, making him the first cast member ever eliminated in TUF history. Then they had him back for a revenge match with Leben on the finale show. Then Leben knocked him out in 90 seconds.
Tha-CKER! Tha-CKER! Tha-CKER!
Pro Record: 5-1
And now, give it up for the second guy to ever be eliminated from TUF. Like Thacker, coach Couture made Sanford hit the bricks before Sanford ever got a fight on the show.
The Cesar Gracie jiu-jitsu student came back for the season finale, where he faced Josh Koscheck and lost by first-round knockout. So, yeah.
Pro Record: 9-7
One of the more anonymous members of the TUF 1 cast, judoka Josh Rafferty was dispatched early by Diego Sanchez. He lost to Alex Karalexis in the finale and never fought in the UFC again, though he did later get a shot in Bellator (he lost).
The Ohio native also has a claim to fame for vomiting on national TV before such things were commonplace. Oh, and also, nice belt, dude.
Pro Record: 10-6
Alex Karalexis never made it past the show's fourth episode, thanks to a Diego Sanchez chokeout. He finished 1-2 in the UFC before finding a bit more success in the WEC, where he spent most of his career.
Pro Record: 10-4
Sam "The Alaskan Assasin" Hoger didn't do much to greatly distinguish himself on the show or after. His castmates accused him of stealing stuff, so that's something, I guess. He was also TKO'd by Griffin in the show's semifinals.
He also has the distinction of being the very first UFC opponent for one Lyoto Machida. He went the distance with him, too, so maybe that's something else? Whatever, I don't know.
Pro Record: 15-10
The former member of the IFL's Los Angeles Anacondas had a healthy career that spanned eight years. In 2009, the jiu-jitsu player fought his last fight, a defeat to Paulo Filho. On the show, he fell under the sword of Forrest Griffin. Or, more accurately, he tapped under the sword to strikes.
Pro record: 13-9
Give it up for "The Vanilla Gorilla." Chris Leben's drinking buddy got knocked out by Bobby Southworth on the show's third episode, making him the first TUF castmate to be eliminated by way of an actual fight.
Nevertheless, Sincaid was a rugged dude, and perhaps even a touch underrated. He tapped out a young Jason "Mayhem" Miller and once decisioned James Irvin. And yes, he even held some gold for a while, defeating Dan Molina to become champion of the WEC's downright juggernautic light heavyweight division. He lost the title in his first defense to Doug Marshall.
Ultimately, Sincaid suffered six of his nine losses by knockout. More like The Glass Gorilla.
Pro Record: 10-6
Though it doesn't seem he ever officially retired (at least, I can't find any announcement), it's pretty clear to me that the man almost entirely responsible for turning Chris Leben from a heel to a face had a very solid career regardless of whether he ever fights gain.
Southworth's biggest non-TUF claim to fame was beating Vernon White to win the Strikeforce light heavyweight title.
Pro Record: 12-4
Looking back, Nate Quarry was a pretty underrated fighter. The only guys who defeated him in the UFC were Demian Maia, Rich Franklin and, in Quarry's last pro fight, Jorge Rivera. I'm not saying he's a Hall of Famer, but a 6-3 mark and a title shot isn't shabby by any stretch.
Plus, I thought he was pretty good on TV. Bring back "MMA Uncensored"!
Pro Record: 15-5
The welterweight has fought through long and complicated injury layoffs to carve out a nice career for himself. The two-time Knockout of the Night bonus winner looked to be all the way back after he finished DeMarques Johnson, but then it turned it was DeMarques Johnson. Matt Brown derailed the comeback train, and now Swick again finds himself in limbo.
Pro Record: 17-7
The heel of the season and the UFC welterweight division is still kicking along but appears to be winding down following two consecutive losses, most recently a knockout to Robbie Lawler.
He's scheduled to face Demian Maia in August. Yeesh.
Pro Record: 15-8
As other fighters evolved with the sport, Bonnar seemed content to stick to kickboxing and a relatively undistinguished gym. And yet, he was talented, he was affable and the fans always loved him. Those fans even stuck with him through his positive steroids test following his final fight, a TKO loss to Anderson Silva. He'll enter the UFC Hall of Fame this summer alongside Griffin.
Pro Record: 14-6
Kenny Florian had some outstanding battles in his career; those stoppages of Joe Lauzon and Takanori Gomi come to mind. Of course, fans nowadays remember him as The Guy Who Couldn't Win The Big One (e.g., pictured title loss to B.J. Penn), or maybe just That Broadcaster on TV.
Regardless, Florian is one of the sport's smartest and nicest guys. Funny to remember he competed on the show as a middleweight, defeating Leben to reach the finale, where he fell to Diego Sanchez by TKO.
Pro Record: 22-9
One of the most tumultuous tenures in TUF (or UFC) history belongs to the inimitable Mr. Christian Cyrus Leben.
The knockout artist with the small army of personal demons is working to mount yet another comeback when he faces Andrew Craig in July. Regardless of what happens, he'll remain one of the most popular middleweights in MMA history, with a litany of unique accomplishments like finishing two fighters in two weeks.
Pro Record: 24-5
Diego Sanchez has the best winning percentage of any TUF 1 fighter. Let that sink in.
The now-welterweight, now-lightweight, now-sane, now-not Sanchez decisioned Takanori Gomi in a disappointingly tepid fight in March, made more disappointing by the fact Sanchez missed weight. A new opponent hasn't yet been announced.
Pro Record: 19-7
No intro needed here. Former light heavyweight champ, one of the biggest upsets in UFC history over Shogun Rua and one half of the most important fight ever held in the promotion in the TUF 1 finale with Bonnar. Engaging personality, best-selling author, likable everyman, cage runner-outer-of. And there you have it.