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The 25 Most Successful Veterans of The Ultimate Fighter

Tim McTiernanCorrespondent IJune 2, 2014

The 25 Most Successful Veterans of The Ultimate Fighter

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    USA TODAY Sports

    There have been 24 iterations of The Ultimate Fighter since the first season in 2005, and there have been hundreds and hundreds of fighters who have made it to the house.

    There have been dozens of fighters who have made it out of the house and had official fights in the UFC, and plenty of those guys are still fighting in the Octagon today.

    The show started off as a last-ditch effort for the UFC in 2005, and today, the show is a staple of the organization, and has been so successful as to spout international editions of the show.

    There's plenty of fighters who are veterans of The Ultimate Fighter, but only 25 can be considered the most successful veterans. Let's see who they are.

26. Stephan Bonnar

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    Felipe Dana/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 1

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 8-7

    Stephan Bonnar is probably most famous for his fight with Forrest Griffin at The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale. It was one of the greatest fights the UFC has ever seen, although Bonnar would lose the unanimous decision.

    Throughout his career, Bonnar took on some of the top names in the sport, including Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin (for a second time), Jon Jones, Mark Coleman, Anderson Silva and more.

    Bonnar announced his retirement prior to his fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 153, a fight Bonnar would go on to lose by TKO.

    Note: a fighter was initially omitted, but included later, thus a 26th spot was added.

25. George Sotiropoulos

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    Eric Jamison/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 6

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 7-4

    George Sotiropoulos made it to he semi-finals of The Ultimate Fighter, where he was knocked out by Tommy Speer. However, one Sotiropoulos had his first official UFC fight, he went on a tear.

    Sotiropoulos won his first seven UFC fights, including wins over George Roop, Joe Stevenson and Joe Lauzon.

    Sotiropoulos was recently released by the UFC, after suffering four straight losses.

24. Ross Pearson

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    Matt Roberts/Getty Images

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 9

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 7-3 [1 NC]

    Ross Pearson was the winner of season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter, which he won back in 2009. Pearson won his first three UFC fights, and four of his first five.

    In 2011, Pearson tried his hand in the featherweight division, where he went 1-1 before returning to lightweight.

    Since returning to the division, he has knocked out both George Sotiropoulos and Ryan Couture.

23. Matt Hamill

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 3

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 10-5

    Matt Hamill only ever had one fight on The Ultimate Fighter, and while it was a win, he suffered an injury during it, and he was unable to participate any further.

    He was given a fight at the finale of the show, and he made the most of it, winning by knockout in the first round. 

    Hamill would go on to fight 15 times in the Octagon, including wins over Seth Petruzelli, Tim Boetsch, Mark Munoz, Jon Jones and Tito Ortiz.

    Hamill recently signed a deal with the World Series of Fighting. 

22. Mike Swick

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 1

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 10-4

    Mike Swick was a competitor on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, and he lost his only fight that he had. He was submitted by Stephan Bonnar in the semi-finals.

    However, he was given a fight at the finale, and won by knockout in just 20 seconds. Swick would start his UFC career with five straight wins, including four wins by finish.

    Swick fought Dan Hardy in a welterweight title eliminator in 2009, although Hardy came out on top.

21. Nate Quarry

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    Eric Jamison/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 1

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 7-3

    Nate Quarry was also on the first season of the show, although he never had a chance to fight. After suffering an ankle injury in training, Quarry was forced to remove himself from competition, although he was allowed to stay on as a coach.

    Then, he was given a fight at the finale of the show, a fight he won by knockout in just over three minutes. After earning two more knockout wins, he became the first veteran of the show to be given a title shot.

    Quarry was knocked out by Franklin, but he went on to have moderate success in the UFC. He retired in 2010.

20. Joe Stevenson

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 2

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 8-9

    Joe Stevenson was the winner of the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, which he won back in 2005.

    Stevenson had a lightweight title shot in 2008 against BJ Penn, which Penn won by submission in the second round.

    Stevenson was with the UFC for six years, and fought some of the top guys, including Melvin Guillard, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, Nate Diaz and Penn.

    His most recent fight was a submission loss to Dakota Cochrane in 2012.

19. Patrick Cote

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 4

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 12-5

    You may be surprised to find Patrick Cote this high on the list, but he has shown quite a resurgence as of late.

    Cote was the runner-up in season four, as he was submitted by Travis Lutter at the finale. After that, Cote won five straight (four in the UFC) and earned a title shot against Anderson Silva.

    Silva won the fight, and Cote lost two more in a row after that, leading to him being cut from the UFC in 2010. 

    Then, Cote went out and won four straight fights and was brought back to the Octagon. He lost his first fight back, but he has since won three straight and dropped to welterweight.

18. Chris Leben

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    Eric Jamison/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 1

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 12-10

    Chris Leben is one of the few fighters to lose twice on The Ultimate Fighter. He was beaten by Josh Koscheck and then by Kenny Florian after Leben replaced Nate Quarry.

    Leben was given a fight at The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale, and he won by TKO in just over 90 seconds. He would win four more in a row before Anderson Silva beat him down.

    Leben retired in January, after eight years and 22 fights with the UFC. Some of the biggest names Leben faced in his career were Silva, Brian Stann, Wanderlei Silva, Mark Munoz, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Michael Bisping.

17. Melvin Guillard

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 2

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 13-9 [1 NC]

    Melvin Guillard didn't win a fight on The Ultimate Fighter, but he did win his fight at the finale, and that's usually all that matters.

    Guillard was one of the most explosive fighters in the UFC, and he won eight of his fights by knockout after leaving the house.

    He has been in a bit of a rough patch as of late, as he has gone 2-5 [1 NC]. After his most recent loss, he was released by the UFC and signed by the WSOF.

16. Joe Lauzon

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 5

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 9-6

    Joe Lauzon had one fight in the UFC before going into the house, and that one win was a knockout over Jens Pulver, who ended up being the opposing coach in the house.

    Lauzon lost to Manny Gamburyan in the house, but he submitted Brandon Melendez at the finale. 

    Lauzon has become known as one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC, with 12 fight-night awards. He is currently ranked No. 15 in the lightweight division.

15. Chris Lytle

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    LAURA RAUCH/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 4

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 9-6

    Chris Lytle came up just short of earning a title shot against Georges St. Pierre. Lytle fought Matt Serra in the finale, with the winner due to earn a title shot. Serra took a split decision.

    Lytle retired in 2011, following a win over Dan Hardy, in which Lytle won Fight and Submission of the Night. That made it a total of 10 fight-night awards.

    Lytle went 5-1 in his final six fights, and he could absolutely have continued to compete at a high level.

14. Ryan Bader

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 8

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 9-4

    Ryan Bader beat three impressive opponents on the show just to make it to the finals. He beat Kyle Kingsbury, Tom Lawlor, Eliot Marshall and then he beat Vinny Magalhaes to win the show.

    Bader has been a solid competitor in the light heavyweight division ever since finishing his time on the show. Bader has beaten Keith Jardine, Rogerio Nogueira, Rampage Jackson and others, while having fought against Glover Teixeira, Lyoto Machida and Jon Jones.

    Bader is currently ranked No. 10 in the division, and he is set to face Rafael Cavalcante at UFC 174.

13. Roy Nelson

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 10

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 7-5

    Roy Nelson was the most experienced fighter going into his season of The Ultimate Fighter, and it showed, as he bulldozed his way through the competition.

    Nelson knocked out Brenden Schaub at the finale to officially win the show, and earn his first UFC knockout.

    Since then, Nelson has knocked out his opponent in all seven wins, and gone to a decision in all five of his losses. He's faced Junior dos Santos, Daniel Cormier, Frank Mir and Mirko Cro Cop.

    Nelson is currently ranked No. 9 in the heavyweight division.

12. Matt Brown

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 7

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 12-5

    In the past two years, Matt Brown has more than earned his place on this list. Since 2012, Brown has won seven fights in a row, including six (T)KO's—five in a row and counting—and two Fight of the Night awards.

    Brown started his UFC career going 4-1, before hitting a rough patch and dropping four of five, including fights with Chris Lytle and Ricardo Almeida.

    Brown is currently ranked No. 5 in the division, and will face Robbie Lawler with a title shot on the line at UFC on Fox 12 in July.

11. Michael Bisping

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 3

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 14-6

    Michael Bisping has been one of the most consistent fighters in the UFC ever since he finished his time on The Ultimate Fighter. He won the show as a light heavyweight, and after winning four in a row, he lost a split decision to Rashad Evans and dropped to middleweight.

    Bisping is regularly ranked in the top 10 of the middleweight division, and he has wins over names such as Jason Miller, Alan Belcher, Brian Stann and Chris Leben.

    Unfortunately for Bisping, he has come up short in two title eliminators, against both Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen.

    Bisping is currently ranked No. 8 in the division.

10. Josh Koscheck

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 1

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 15-8

    Josh Koscheck lost to Diego Sanchez while on the show, but won his fight by knockout in the first round at the finale.

    Koscheck went 7-1 to start his UFC career, including a victory in a rematch with Sanchez. Koscheck then fought Georges St-Pierre for the first time, and Koscheck suffered his second UFC loss.

    Koscheck later fought GSP again, this time with the welterweight title on the line. Koscheck lost the fight by unanimous decision.

    Notable wins for Koscheck include Matt Hughes, Paul Daley and Chris Lytle.

9. Diego Sanchez

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 1

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 13-7

    Diego Sanchez won the first season of The Ultimate Fighter in the middleweight division by knocking out Kenny Florian.

    Diego won his first six fights in the UFC, including his first ever Fight of the Year with Karo Parisyan.

    Sanchez fought for the UFC lightweight title against BJ Penn at at UFC 107 in 2009, a fight Sanchez would lose by fifth-round doctor stoppage.

    Sanchez has seven total Fight of the Night awards in his career. He will face Ross Pearson this Saturday.

8. John Dodson

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 14

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 4-1

    John Dodson was the winner of season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter, which he won in the bantamweight division by knocking out T.J. Dillashaw.

    Immediately after that win, Dodson dropped to flyweight and beat Tim Elliott and Jussier Formiga to earn a title shot.

    Dodson would lose to Demetrious Johnson, but would rebound strongly with a first-round knockout of Darrell Montague.

    Dodson is currently ranked No. 1 at flyweight, and he will face John Moraga this Saturday.

7. Matt Serra

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    Eric Jamison/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 4

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 3-3

    Matt Serra won season four of The Ultimate Fighter by winning a split decision over Chris Lytle. With that win, Serra earned a title shot against Georges St-Pierre. Serra was able to win the title and knock out St-Pierre in the first round, in what is widely known as one of the biggest upsets in MMA history.

    Serra then lost a rematch to GSP the following year, and then he also lost to Matt Hughes. After that, Serra knocked out Frank Trigg, then retired following a decision loss in a second fight with Chris Lytle.

6. Gray Maynard

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 5

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 9-3-1 [1 NC]

    Gray Maynard didn't win his season of The Ultimate Fighter, but he also didn't win at the finale. In a very rare occurrence, Maynard's fight at the finale ended with a NC due to both fighters being knocked out.

    After that, Maynard rattled off eight straight wins, including wins over Dennis Siver, Frankie Edgar, Jim Miller, Nate Diaz and Kenny Florian.

    All those wins earned Maynard a title shot against Frankie Edgar, which Maynard would almost win, but eventually ended in a draw.

    They had a third fight, but Gray lost this one by fourth-round knockout.

    Since then, Maynard has gone 1-2, with a win over Clay Guida and losses to TJ Grant and Nate Diaz, both by TKO.

    Maynard is currently ranked No. 8 at lightweight.

5. Nate Diaz

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 5

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 12-7

    Nate Diaz won season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter with four straight submissions, three on the show, and a submission to punches over Manny Gamburyan at the finale.

    In 2012, Diaz beat Jim Miller with a second-round submission to earn a lightweight title shot. Diaz got his shot later that year against Benson Henderson, a fight that Henderson would win by unanimous decision.

    Since then, Diaz lost to Josh Thompson, but then came back and won an unofficial rubber match with Gray Maynard by first-round TKO.

4. Kenny Florian

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 1

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 12-5

    Kenny Florian was the runner-up in season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter, losing at the finale to Diego Sanchez.

    After that fight, Florian returned to the welterweight division for two fights—both wins—but would then drop another weight class and make his debut at lightweight.

    In his second fight at lightweight, Kenny fought Sean Sherk for the vacant lightweight title. Sherk would go on to win a unanimous decision.

    Three years later, Kenny had a second lightweight title shot, this time against BJ Penn. However, Kenny once again came up short, getting submitted in the fourth round.

    Kenny had a lightweight title eliminator in 2010 against Gray Maynard, but he once again suffered a loss.

    Kenny's last title shot came in 2011 in what would be his last fight. Kenny faced Jose Aldo for the featherweight title, and while Kenny had some success, Aldo won a unanimous decision.

3. T.J. Dillashaw

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 14

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 6-2

    T.J. Dillashaw lost season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter, suffering a TKO loss to John Dodson at the show finale.

    Dillashaw went 5-1 after that, the lone loss being a split decision, and with that, Dillashaw had earned a title shot against Renan Barao.

    Dillashaw made the most of that title shot, and even though he was an 8-1 underdog, he gave the performance of his life and dominated Barao.

    Dillashaw is now the fourth Ultimate Fighter veteran to ever win a UFC title.

2. Forrest Griffin

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 1

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 10-5

    Forrest Griffin won the first season of the show as a light heavyweight. Griffin and Stephan Bonnar put on one of the greatest fights ever seen at the finale, which earned them both a place in history.

    But Griffin wasn't done there.

    Two years later, Griffin had a fight against Mauricio Rua, in Rua's first fight in the UFC. In what was later called the Upset of the Year, Griffin submitted Rua in the third round.

    After that, Griffin earned a title shot against Rampage Jackson. Griffin won the fight by unanimous decision and became the second Ultimate Fighter veteran to win a title.

    He was unable to defend it, and lost the title in his next fight. 

    Griffin would fight five more times after that, going 3-2, with wins over Rich Franklin and Tito Ortiz, and losses to Mauricio Rua and Anderson Silva.

1. Rashad Evans

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Ultimate Fighter season: 2

    Record since leaving The Ultimate Fighter: 14-3-1

    And here we have the man that Forrest Griffin lost his light heavyweight title to.

    Rashad Evans won season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter as a heavyweight, earning a decision over Brad Imes.

    Evans would return to light heavyweight in his next fight, and would go 6-0-1 in the division, including wins over Stephan Bonnar, Michael Bisping and Chuck Liddell.

    Evans then had his title shot against Forrest Griffin, in a fight that Evans won by third-round TKO. Evans would be unable to defend the title, and he was knocked out by Lyoto Machida in his next fight.

    Following that fight, Evans won four straight and earned another title shot, this time against Jon Jones. Jones would win by decision.

    Evans has now won two straight, and will likely fight again in the fall. He is ranked No. 3 at light heavyweight.

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