10 TUF Veterans Who Never Lived Up to Their Potential
The Ultimate Fighter has given the UFC many fighters who have done great things for the company. It also has operated as a developmental program, providing many mainstays who grace the Octagon on a night-to-night basis.
However, with every great underdog story that has brought us a guy out of nowhere, there have been disappointments as well. For every champion we've had like Rashad Evans, someone else has not lived up to his potential.
Here are 10 TUF veterans who should have been so much more but never met expectations.
Season: TUF 2
Record (UFC Record): 6-6 (3-4)
Luke Cummo came into the UFC with a subpar record of 3-2. However, he took the show in stride, gave us some bizarre antics and earned his way into the finals of the tournament against Joe Stevenson.
He lost the finale but put up an exceptional fight in the process. That gave fans some hope for this oddball fighter.
However, he would not find consistency in the Octagon, going 3-3 in his next six bouts against decent-at-best competition.
Cummo's last fight came at UFC 87, where he lost to Tamdan McCrory. Not only has he not fought in the UFC since, he hasn't fought at all professionally.
He has gone from potential breakout from the show to a forgotten man.
Season: TUF 4
Record (UFC Record): 10-6 (2-4)
Travis Lutter had the opportunity of a lifetime. Not only was he getting a second chance with the UFC on the comeback season of TUF, but he even won his bracket of the tournament, earning a title shot at Anderson Silva.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace came to the weigh-ins at UFC 67 overweight, which stripped him of his title shot and made the main event a non-title affair. He would go on to get choked out by Silva and then knocked out by Rich Franklin, which ejected him from the UFC.
That wasted opportunity, in unison with the hope we had for him coming out of the show, made Lutter a huge disappointment. He hasn't fought since 2010, where now-UFC fighter Rafael Natal starched him with punches at Moosin: God of Martial Arts to likely close out his pro career.
Season: TUF 5
Record (UFC Record): 6-6 (1-2)
Corey Hill had an interesting story. The 6'4" lightweight was the first pick of Jens Pulver's team despite the fact he lied on his show application and had only one pro fight under his belt. Not only that, but Pulver talked about hooking him up with elite training in the form of Jeremy Horn when the show was over.
Hill was eliminated before tournament finals, but he showed he had raw potential to be a solid fighter. He went on to knock out Joe Veres to secure his spot on the UFC; however, he lost via choke to Justin Buchholz in next fight and then suffered a nasty leg break against Dale Hartt in December 2008.
The injury kept him out for more than a year. Since then, he has not been the same fighter. This raw, long lightweight has wandered the regional circuit, looking to regain any momentum he had when we thought he could be a great prospect.
His last fight was in December, where he was defeated by Joe Frye. One has to believe the injury to his leg crippled his MMA career.
Season: TUF 6
Record (UFC Record): 21-12-1 (5-8)
When a fighter wins TUF, he has expectations of becoming a next-level fighter. This is especially true considering how Mac Danzig dominated the field on his season of the show.
Nobody could touch him in Season 6. He ran through Joe Scarola and John Kolosci (twice) and quickly choked out Tom Speer in the finale to become the champion of the season.
Since then, Danzig has been inconsistent and has struggled.
He beat Mark Bocek in his sophomore effort, but then dropped eight of his 11 next bouts. Fans of the show thought he would be a future top-15 guy, but he never even cracked the top 25.
He is still with the UFC but could be on his way out now that he is on a three-fight skid. We will see if the company keeps him or washes its hands of him.
Talk about a ton of potential that was never fulfilled.
Season: TUF 7
Record (UFC Record): 7-3, 2 NC (7-3, 2 NC)
If you look at Matt Riddle's record, it's hard to say he hasn't been successful in the Octagon. However, given the situation, he may be one of the biggest disappointments in MMA history.
He came into TUF with no professional fights but showed his potential and raw skill while competing on the show. He even got a shot to fight at the finale, where he beat Dante Rivera by decision to earn a spot on the roster.
He then traded wins and losses for a while, but at the tail end of his tenure with the company, it looked as if he had finally turned a corner. He was looking like a force to be reckoned with, winning matches in smart fights as opposed to the dogfights like he was having before.
Then, we found out that Riddle liked the green medicine.
His wins over Chris Clements and Che Mills were overturned due to failed drug tests. The Mills bouts was the last straw, as the UFC cut Riddle for not being able to urinate cleanly.
He then was supposed to compete for Bellator, but that never amounted to anything. Now, after time away from the sport, he is ready to go with Titan Fighting Championship.
Just think, if Riddle could pass a drug test, he'd still be in the UFC, taking on some of the top welterweights in the world. Funny how those things work.
Season: TUF 8
Record (UFC Record): 9-5-1 (0-3)
When you draw comparisons to Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre on a UFC broadcast, you better live up to at least half of what they are. Phillipe Nover drew those comparisons and couldn't even get a win in the UFC.
He dominated his way to the TUF 8 finals against Efrain Escudero, where the announcers were doing everything but crowning him the new champion. However, he lost but retained a spot on the roster.
He lost his follow-up to Kyle Bradley. Then, in a last-ditch effort to get a win, the UFC gave him Rob Emerson. Nover lost, which led to his dismissal.
Since then, Nover is 4-2 while fighting with Bellator and regional promotions. His comparisons to Silva and St=Pierre? Vanquished, just like his UFC opportunity.
Perhaps too much pressure was put on him. However, that's why he was such a disappointment.
Season: TUF 8
Record (UFC Record): 21-7 (3-4)
Efrain Escudero had a big opportunity after winning his season of the show. He was to be the Mexican trail blazer for the UFC's expansion south of the border.
Two lackluster UFC stints later, and Escudero is on the regional scene, looking to recapture a top company's attention.
After beating Phillipe Nover to win the tournament, he traded wins and losses before he came in overweight against Charles Oliveira and lost an embarrassing showing. He was then cut.
He built himself back up, going 5-1 against respectable opposition and earning an invitation back to the company. However, he would go 0-2 against Jacob Volkmann and Mac Danzig, earning a pink slip in the process.
The UFC had big plans for this guy, and his performances took that away. What a shame for a guy who seemed so charismatic and ready for the bright lights.
Season: TUF 11
Record (UFC Record): 13-3 (3-3)
Nick Ring was a favorite to win TUF 11. He was the first pick of Tito Ortiz and smashed his way to get into the house.
He then fought Court McGee and won a controversial decision, re-injuring his already repaired knee in the process. It would keep him out for a while.
He would get a shot in the UFC, though. It has been a lackluster run full of gift decisions, though.
He stole his debut fight against Riki Fukuda, where many thought the Japanese fighter was robbed of a decision. Ring erased that doubt in his next bout, choking out James Head.
It was all downhill from there. He lost to Tim Boetsch, stole a horrible decision from Court McGee and fell to Chris Camozzi and Caio Magalhaes in his last two bouts.
It's time for the UFC to pull the plug on this guy.
Ring has gone from favorite to win TUF to someone who looks overmatched in the UFC. So much for his promising potential.
Season: TUF 11
Record (UFC Record): 6-4 (0-1)
Jamie Yager was many things on his season of the show. He was cocky, arrogant, high on himself and apparently skilled. This was seen in his fight to get into the house.
He did not win his way into the finale, but we still had high hopes for his potential. That was put to rest when Rich Attonito knocked him out at the finale, robbing Yager of a roster spot.
He then came back on the regional scene, where he rattled off some wins. He got some momentum back, earning him a high-profile fight with Josh Burkman.
He would be choked out by Burkman and then defeated when Bellator gave him a chance. Yager seemed destined to be a hot up-and-coming star in MMA but instead became a guy who couldn't back up his slick talk when the chips were down.
Season: TUF 12
Record (UFC Record): 13-6 (2-3)
A dreadlocked, quiet oddball, Jonathan Brookins didn't seem to be too much of a threat on the 12th season of the show. However, he choked his way into the finals and won the whole dang thing.
He was billed after that as a guy who was tough enough to square off with Jose Aldo, as he did earlier in his career to moderate success compared to the other men whom Aldo smashed.
However, Brookins struggled to find his full potential in the cage.
That being said, he drew some tough guys. He knocked out Vagner Rocha but lost three fights to Charles Oliveira, Dustin Poirier and Erik Koch. That 2-3 record made him leave the UFC to find himself on a spiritual journey.
Brookins has now resurfaced and will fight at a new weight class with Legacy FC. Will he redeem himself, or will he remain a big letdown from the days when we thought he could be a special fighter?