The Ultimate Fighter 3: Where Are They Now?
The third season of The Ultimate Fighter took place between April and June all the way back in the year two thousand and six. Pluto had just been stripped of its planet status. Nintendo released a little machine it called the Wii. And Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was teaching us all how to laugh again.
Truly, we thought we'd all live forever. And as TUF viewers, we had the highest of high hopes for the third incarnation of the game-changing reality program. Matt Hamill was, quite simply, the greatest story in the history of mixed martial arts. And maybe Planet Earth (sorry, Pluto).
And his teammate, a young man by the name of Kendall Grove, appeared poised to take over the middleweight division for years to come. Welcome to the Grove Era, we all said.
Seven long years later, where do they stand? And not just Hamill or Grove, but the whole gang? Here's a rundown of the current whereabouts of all of those 16 fighters who captured our hearts that spring, from Bisping to Starnes and everyone in between. Hope you're ready for a nostalgia blast.
Fighters are ranked in order from the least impressive performance on the show and in their subsequent fight careers to most.
16. Noah Inhofer
Pro record: 4-5
I want to say something right up front here. In doing my research, something became abundantly clear to me: There were a lot of chumps on TUF 3. Like, a really high number of chumps.
Yes, they could all knock me out twice before I hit the ground. But still, for guys who at one point were presumably interested in fighting for money, well, let's say they could have used a career counselor.
And Noah Inhofer is the chump of all TUF 3 chumps. After winning his first match, Inhofer scheduled a little sitdown with Dana White. The reason? His girlfriend was accusing him of infidelity. He had to leave the show. Stat. No other option.
Yep, Inhofer committed career suicide in front of a national TV audience. What became of him and the relationship? Well, it's tough to tell, as he's no longer in the public eye. He did briefly return to MMA, but didn't get very far, thanks in part to that huge black ball dangling from a chain around his neck.
15. Ross Pointon
Pro record: 6-17
Ross Pointon lost twice on the show (he was called back as an injury replacement) and has gone on to stake his claim as one of the more well-rounded tomato cans TUF has ever produced. Pointon, who is still an active fighter, has dropped seven straight, including his last three by knockout.
Now he has a nice, symmetrical eight defeats by T/KO and eight defeats by submission. Somewhere, Shannon Ritch trembles beneath his Uncle Sam stovepipe.
No matter what happens from here, though, Pointon does have one impressive claim to fame: Back in 2004, he defeated current middleweight standout Francis Carmont. That's something no UFC middleweight has yet found a way to do.
14. Danny Abbadi
Pro record: 4-6
Danny Abbadi was dominated by Ed Herman and ultimately lost by submission. He then made a scene and was laughed at by his coach, though to be fair this was in the era when Tito Ortiz was really into laughing at everybody.
Abbadi came back for the season finale but lost another first-round submission, this time to Kalib Starnes. A loss to Jorge Gurgel at UFC 63, and he was officially a ghost. He rattled around for a while longer in other promotions and apparently called it a career in 2009 after a loss to Shonie Carter.
Looks like Abbadi recently got a new job as a striking coach in Tampa, Fla.
13. Mike Stine
Pro record: 3-0
Mike Stine didn't exactly get a ton of face time on the show, seeing as how Kalib Starnes knocked him out in the first round of the first round of the tournament. He, uh, wasn't invited back for the season finale.
Stine went on to pick up a few wins on the regional circuit. And now it seems he's doing just fine, thank you very much, serving as the lead sensei at Tiger Schulman's Mixed Martial Arts in Queens, N.Y.
12. Kalib Starnes
Pro record: 15-8
Yes, Virginia. Kalib Starnes is still an active fighter. And guess what: He's a heavyweight now!
And what's more, Starnes won his heavyweight debut in April. His victim? The immortal Tim Hague. He's now 2-0 in his new weight class. Big things, Kalib.
Starnes is best known, of course, for literally running away from Nate Quarry for 15 minutes, and essentially ruining his reputation as a fighter in the process. That was in 2008, and he hasn't fought in the UFC since. Not that that has stopped Starnes from being all defensive and self-righteous about it years later.
11. Kristian Rothaermel
Pro record: 4-3
Kristian Rothaermel was one of the season's true characters and easily had its most compelling back story. A New Orleans native, Rothaermel lost his father and most of his worldly belongings in Hurricane Katrina, but stayed in the area to help rebuild homes. On the show, he spent his time smoking cigars and reciting poetry.
Unfortunately, the audience didn't get as much Rothaermel as they might have liked, as he lost his first fight to one Michael Bisping. He got one more shot in the UFC, against Rob MacDonald at UFC Fight Night 5. He lost by first-round submission and hasn't fought since.
10. Tait Fletcher
Any Puddle of Mudd fans in the house? I think I see one.
Tait Fletcher's pro fight career didn't come to much after TUF 3. Good thing, then, that he had a few fallbacks up his sleeve, including working as the founder and head trainer at the Santa Fe outpost of the much-ballyhooed 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu academy.
More interestingly, though, Fletcher is an actor and stuntman, and he's legit, too. He's worked on The Avengers, Thor and the final season of a little television program called Breaking Bad. Not too shabby. And to be fair to Fletcher, here's what he looks like today, according to his very own IMDB page.
9. Solomon Hutcherson
Pro record: 11-7
Despite losing in the show's first round, Solomon Hutcherson actually had a not-terrible run in MMA's minor leagues. After losing by knockout on the show and again on the season finale, Hutcherson went 5-3 over his final eight professional contests.
In a nutshell, he beat cans and lost to bigger names, and his jaw was always suspect. His final fight was a knockout loss to David Heath by way of superman punch.
8. Mike Nickels
As a contestant, Mike Nickels lost a decision to Matt Hamill in the first round. As a fighter, he had a fairly decent run. He beat Wes Combs in the season finale then fought and lost to Stephan Bonnar in his only other UFC fight.
But he had success on some well-respected regional promotions, with the high-water mark probably being a 2009 win over David Heath in Maximum Fighting Championship, a Canada-based promotion still kicking along today.
7. Josh Haynes
Pro record: 17-11
Ahh, yes. Josh "Bring the Pain" Haynes.
The former gentlemen's club manager with the powder-blue mohawk made the light heavyweight finals before succumbing to Michael Bisping. Though he never got a UFC win in three tries, he did beat Sean Salmon in 2008. So that's good.
"Bring the Pain" found another way to bring pain to people, I guess? He is now a Las Vegas police officer and was even featured on the Cops-style reality TV show Vegas Strip. Want to see the video clip? Of course you do.
6. Rory Singer
Pro record: 11-9
On the show, Singer might have been best known for his prank war with Ed Herman, who ultimately defeated him in the semifinal around.
Singer continued his fight career for a while, but took time off in 2008 to focus on the gym (the HardCore Gym in Athens, Ga.) and management firm (Mammoth Sports and Entertainment) he owned.
He returned to pro MMA in 2009 but probably should have stayed away. He lost to Bryan Baker in that return attempt, but more importantly it seems he's a much better businessman than a fighter. Both of his businesses are still around today (or at least their websites are).
5. Jesse Forbes
Pro record: 15-5
After losing to Matt Hamill in the finale, the show's light heavyweight semifinalist didn't get another shot in the UFC for four years. He ended up 0-3 in the Octagon but did well in the small circuits, even notching wins over James Head, Chris Camozzi and Jesse Taylor, among others.
Forbes went out as a winner in his last bout in 2010. Not long after, he transitioned full time into his other passion: firefighting. He even picked up the 2010 Volunteer of the Year Award in Tempe, Ariz. As far as I can tell, that's where he remains today.
4. Kendall Grove
Pro record: 18-13 (1)
Kendall Grove is perhaps the tallest middleweight to ever grace a major MMA stage. But he still had enough musculature to cut a strong presence in the cage.
As such, Grove was anointed with the status of the uber prospect. Everyone made the simple assumption that the TUF 3 middleweight winner would do plenty of winning afterward.
Though he went 7-6 in his UFC tenure he just never got over the hump. He's been bouncing around ever since and essentially adhering to that just-above-.500 pattern we knew so well years ago. Give him credit, though. He's still making a career of it, most recently fighting in Kansas City and Poland's KSW promotion.
3. Matt Hamill
Pro record: 11-4
Matt Hamill didn't make it to The Ultimate Fighter by quitting. So it wasn't a surprise when Hamill came back from a midseason injury to knockout Jesse Forbes in the finale and cement his place on the UFC roster.
The hearing-impaired Hamill is undoubtedly one of the best stories in MMA history. Though his skills appear to have badly eroded, he's still making a go of it and will face Thiago Silva in October.
2. Ed Herman
Pro record: 21-9 (1)
He did make the middleweight finals, but it's probably not likely anyone would have expected Ed "Short Fuse" Herman to have the second-longest UFC run.
But here he is, still duking it out and solidly entrenched in the middle of the middleweight division. He may never claim a title, but he is sure making a living, most recently notching Fight of the Night honors for a win over Trevor Smith in July.
And even if he never fights again, he'll still have one of the best nicknames in MMA history.
1. Michael Bisping
Pro record: 24-5
Well, this one's pretty much a no-brainer.
Michael Bisping has yet to fight for a belt, but he's perpetually in the mix at middleweight. He's also become quite the TV commentator on the Fox sports networks and elsewhere. The TUF 3 middleweight winner has made good on his potential and then some. That puts him head and shoulders above the rest of his Season 3 castmates.
Scott Harris likes to dissect and reminisce about all sorts of MMA topics and trivia. Find him on Twitter for more of the same.