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The 10 Greatest TUF Winner Fails of All Time

(Where’s your glass trophy now, playboy? Props:

By CagePotato contributor Jim Genia

In a perfect world, The Ultimate Fighter would give us an up close and personal look at some of the most promising mixed martial artists out there, vying for greatness in the crucible of combat. But in reality, it’s become a perversion of manufactured drama and prefabricated stars — stars made bright not by the depth of the competition they must face but by the trouncing of whatever hapless wannabes a SpikeTV producer chose at the tryouts. You see, it stopped being about “who’s the best” a long time ago, and was twisted into “who makes for the best TV,” so what we get now is more Jersey Shore than Ultimate Fighting Championship, only instead of Snooki and JWoww’s cleavage we get an IFL champ or Sengoku veteran beating the ever-loving crap out of people with maybe a handful (if that) of fights.

That’s why, when a TUF winner loses in Octagon — sometimes after facing real UFC-level competition for the first time — it’s totally awesome! Because, sure, Michael Bisping, Joe Stevenson and Mac Danzig are tough, likeable guys, but don’t try to fool us into thinking they’re the definition of “badass” just because they defeated a personal trainer from New Orleans, a boxer from Maine and some kid who should be working on a farm. We’re not the ignorant general public flicking through the channels, we’re knowledgeable MMA fans. We know better!

Therefore, here, in no particular order, is a list of the ten greatest TUF winner fails of all time. It’s a list based not on animosity towards any particular fighter, but on animosity towards the Spike TV executive who skipped over the few hundred fighter hopefuls with real talent and real skill, and instead chose the clown with the funky hair, the drinking problem and the propensity for trashing houses…

Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson, UFC 100
British fighter Michael Bisping was a stud in the UK MMA scene (which is a lot like saying you’re a gold medalist in the Special Olympics) when he got the call to compete on TUF, and he took Season 3 top honors after beating, well, pretty much no one of note. But he continued to rack up wins on the pay-per-views, defeating such marginables as Elvis Sinosic, Charles McCarthy and Jason Day. However, TUF 9 saw him pitted against Dan Henderson as an opposing coach, and we were supposed to believe the inevitable Octagon conflict between them would be competitive. It wasn’t, and fans everywhere rejoiced over a knockout so devastating Bisping has no recollection of anything to do with the weekend of July 11, 2009 and about nine days before and after.

Joe Stevenson vs. Josh Neer, UFC Fight Night 4
Season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter was supposed to be like a gift-wrapped Christmas present with Joe Stevenson’s name on it. He was, after all, a highly-touted King of the Cage champ. But at the TUF 2 Finale he very nearly got his ass kicked by Luke “Mmmm, This Urine Tastes Delicious” Cummo. Thankfully, Midwest drunk driver Josh Neer was brought in – most likely to lose for Stevenson’s first post-TUF outing — and he got the job done. Remember kids: when a matchmaker hands you an “easy” fight, you’re supposed to win it.

Mac Danzig vs. Josh Neer, UFC Fight Night 17
Mac Danzig blew through Season 6 of TUF like a man who’d fought 19 times in promotions like King of the Cage, the WEC and Pride and wasn’t in the same league as the clowns put before him. Which was pretty much the case. But his post-TUF experience saw Clay Guida completely work him over on the ground. Then came the piece de resistance: a tap out via triangle choke to “TUF Winner Killer” Neer. Rumor has it Danzig asked if he could go back to living in the TUF House, as “life was so much easier back then.”

Kendall Grove vs. Jorge Rivera, UFC 80
Tall and lanky, Kendall Grove was your stereotypical “Hawaiian who used his long limbs to out-grapple opponents and win TUF 3” kind of fighter. Unfortunately, his awkwardness didn’t do his striking ability any favors, so when faced with someone capable of getting in close and landing something solid on his jaw, Grove had problems. Such was the case when he faced Patrick Cote, and after that four-minute and forty-five second knockout, the UFC brass handpicked him Jorge Rivera, a striker supposedly on a career decline. Rivera needed less than a minute and a half to feed him a dose of the sleepy-knuckles. So much for giving Grove someone he could handle.

Travis Lutter vs. Anderson Silva, UFC 67
TUF 4: The Comeback was all about providing a bunch of UFC vets a second chance, and Travis Lutter made the most of his shot, defeating legitimate competition to win it and earn a crack at middleweight champ Anderson Silva. What happened next really wasn’t the fault of any Spike TV producer, but it’s worthy of a chuckle nonetheless: Lutter, in his moment of potential championship glory, did not make weight, making his UFC 67 bout a non-title affair and rendering all his efforts in Season 4 null and void. Weight cutting FAIL.

Ross Pearson vs. Cole Miller, UFC Fight Night 22
England needs MMA stars, and TUF 9’s US vs. UK motif was meant to give it to them. And it did, in the form of lightweight face-puncher Ross Pearson. Pearson took out two members of the UFC’s “B-team” in Aaron Riley and Dennis Siver, yet hit a stumbling block when confronted by Cole Miller. You see, TUF 8 winner Efrain Escudero may have had luck putting Miller away with punches, but with Miller there’s a learning curve involved. And he done learnt that boxing! Pearson tapped to a rear naked choke at UFC Fight Night 22, but it was all the leather stuffed down his throat that made the difference.

Amir Sadollah vs. Johny Hendricks, UFC 101
Traditionally, a TUF winner’s first opponent right of the gate is supposed to be just one step above a cadaver in terms of threat. But WEC veteran Johny Hendricks never got that memo. Instead, he greeted seventh-season winner Sadollah in the Octagon with a flurry of fists and bad intentions. Maybe — maybe — referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in too soon to halt the bout, but the fact of the matter was that when Sadollah hit the canvas face first, it looked as if the TUF winner was looking for a lost contact lens and had forgotten there was a fight going on.

Diego Sanchez vs. Josh Koscheck, UFC 69
Diego Sanchez was the prototype of every crazy and off-kilter fighter you’ve seen emerge from the TUF depths, but his 17-fight win streak meant that, unlike other attention-hungry degenerates, he could actually fight. He could not, however, wrestle as good as fellow TUF 1 alum Josh Koscheck, so fans who tuned in to UFC 69 were treated to a man who could harness lightning failing to takedown a man with no power over the elements at all in a bout about as exciting as watching the clouds roll by on a warm summer day. Kosheck took the decision, then folded up Sanchez’s perfect record and used it as a Kleenex.

Forrest Griffin vs. Keith Jardine, UFC 66
The UFC and the sport in general will always owe Forrest Griffin a debt of gratitude for his gutsy TUF 1 Finale performance against Stephan Bonnar, a performance that opened the doors to mainstream acceptance. But as the first TUF star, Griffin’s treatment was… deferential (Dana White: “We need someone who won’t out-strike Forrest or submit him.” Joe Silva: “Hey, I have Elvis Sinosic on speed dial!”) to say the least. That’s why, when Griffin went toe-to-toe with Keith Jardine and wound up literally crying in the corner afterwards, it was somewhat satisfying. Hey, we love Forrest Griffin to death. But the UFC is supposed to be about the best fighting the best, not the best fighting Australians.

Efrain Escudero vs. Charles Oliveira, UFC Fight Night 22
Escudero came away from TUF 8 with solid wrestling, okay hands, and a fancy Lucite declaring him a stud. And things were panning out for him when he blasted Cole Miller in the chops in his first real UFC fight. But the wheels came off the bus in his next outing, and at the center of this traffic accident was Evan Dunham, grappling the hell out of him and submitting him like it was Escudero’s first day on the mat. Then came UFC Fight Night 22 and last-minute replacement Charles Oliveira, who in only his second trip into the Octagon out-struck the TUF winner and submitted him with the kind of standing rear naked choke usually reserved for drunken frat boys practicing “that UFC stuff” at 2:00am on the quad. That little gem of a sequence, plus the fact that he failed to make weight for the bout, had Joe Silva giving Escudero a pink slip. I guess now would be a good time to learn about that whole jiu-jitsu thing, no?

Cagepotato Comments

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Anzus- December 12, 2010 at 5:08 pm
Yep, shitty article.

Americans are obese, stupid, greedy, religious fanatics. Poms always fucking whinge, are pasty as fuck and suck at sport. Australians drink beer in the shower, follow the cultural trends of the US (because we have yet to develop any culture of our own) and idolize bush rangers, murderers and rapist rugby players as folk heroes and role models for children.

We're all as fucked up as each other, why can't we all get along?
JoseMonkey- September 24, 2010 at 6:35 am
I'm with Kenwoo - this article started with the premise that TUF winners (and other contestants) are crap fighters cast for their TV presence alone. Then it proceeded to trash them without letting facts get in the way of that initial hypothesis.

As others have mentioned, some of the fights here were to other TUF alums. Furthermore, the commentary on some of the fights is just laughably at odds with the actual way the fights played out. For example, Ross Pearson was kicking Miller's ass before he got caught. Also, the description of Olivera's win over Escudero makes it sound like Escudero lost to some chump by "frat boy choke." Not what happened in the fight I saw -- Olivera is a legit bad-ass.
Shaky- September 23, 2010 at 10:16 am
I wonder who that boxer from Maine could be???
JHustle- September 23, 2010 at 9:08 am
You forgot Court McGee getting totally worked by Ryan Jensen for a 1st round stoppage.

- Nostradamus
agentsmith- September 23, 2010 at 8:51 am
Speaking of Snooki, I saw the cover of some magazine in which she's apparently talking about how she "battled anorexia"... well I guess we know who won, huh?
WalksInTheDarkness- September 23, 2010 at 8:10 am
The thing that pisses me off about the British comment is that people forget a number of older events. Like Mark Weir, a Brit, holding the record for the fastest knock out (10 seconds) in the UFC against an American, Eugene Jackson. Or Ian "The Bad Grand Dad" Freeman beating the crap out of Frank Mir, when Freeman was just meant to be an easy win for Mir.

Basically, whenever it's come down to wrestling we Europeans are crap at it because we've not been trained since primary school to hold a guy down for five minutes. On the other hand, when it comes to letting go with the hands most Europeans beat the crap out of North Americans (you'll notice a distinct lack of Americans in the K1 final sixteen.)
Dagnut- September 23, 2010 at 7:52 am
Piece of shit article simple as that. Pretty wound up by it be honest, so the UK seen is equivalent to the special Olympics?
what a rubbish could of said "being stud in the UK mma scene is almost like being a Journalist on CP"
Eyes red as Fedor- September 23, 2010 at 6:53 am
Is "the best fighting Australians" a reference to something?
iTalia- September 23, 2010 at 6:41 am

co-signing w/ Kenwoo
Kenwoo- September 23, 2010 at 4:27 am
In all the hundreds and hundreds of articles I've read over the years, this has to be the most moronic piece of shit I've ever read. Im still not sure if its a piss-take or not yet?! Does the writer think there are people showing up to the TUF tryouts, who've been training for 20 years in some underground lair, with skill-sets akin to A.Silva or a Mr Shogun Rua, but are turned away because they haven't got a tattoo on their face, or are part-time alcoholics?

Im not stupid, I understand that if there are two guys vying for a spot with similar skills, the one with a bit of personality will probably make the grade, but the really good guys are either already in the UFC/Bellator/Strikeforce, or have already been earmarked by Joe Silva. TUF is about finding the best of the rest.

If you dont think Bisping, Danzig and Stevenson are 'badass', maybe you should try living in a house for a few months, getting the shit beaten out of you everyday you cunt-muscle. This article baffles me because half the fights you mention above as 'fails' are against other TUF competitors.

This is the first post I've ever made on CagePotato as I rarely visit the site. Its usually just a bit of a laugh without any real depth, and this backs that up.

Rant over, I'll leave you with this: Evans (about to have a title shot), Bader, Diaz, Gamburyan (about to have a title shot), Cole Miller, Joe Lauzon, George Sotiropolous, Melvin Guillard, Roy Nelson- Half of these guys didnt even win TUF, which puts your 'fighting personal-trainers' to shit.
herb137- September 22, 2010 at 9:39 pm
@John A
i clicked that link and i have to say thats the funniest picture ive ever seen in my life
fatbellyfrank- September 22, 2010 at 8:37 pm
@ ballkick Mrs Beesping ees not eempressed with your statement

Ballkick- September 22, 2010 at 8:20 pm
Whenever I am feeling down, when life starts to make me feel unhappy or depressed.
I can always return the smile to my face by watching a slow motion replay on a loop.......of the ending of Hederson and Bispings fight.
Better than Prozac.....and I don't need to get it from a pharmacy.......ear to ear cheer.
fatbellyfrank- September 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm
^ and yes, K-onda, I did ask everyone, all 20million, or however many of us there are now. I put out the question" What do you think of K-onda?" and the reply came back with one voice" He's a cunt we all fucken hate him , he makes mean jokes about us, then goes and makes friends with all the retards".

Now thats what I call a Kangaroo court Booya
fatbellyfrank- September 22, 2010 at 8:12 pm
@ K-onda, and we fucken hate you

And I think this John A dude may actually be a brit, but we still fucken hate you
eatSHITdie- September 22, 2010 at 8:11 pm
sounds like Jim Genia's first event was the ultimate fighter 1 finale. Sorry but Forrest Griffen isn't the best fighter in the world. It's ok if you thought he wone UFC 1.
k-onda- September 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm
Yeah, who is this John A twat? Is he some kinda mighty retard defender? The difference between retards and Australians: I like retards but still make fun of them - and I just make fun of Australians. IMO, if a joke's a good one, use that bitch as much as you want.
fatbellyfrank- September 22, 2010 at 7:40 pm
@ rampage, has to be a mixture of both I'd be thinkin, the article states "tough, likeable" I dont know if I'd put Bisping in either category, but definitely not likeable, except of course, by Mrs Bisping (See above, approx 5 comments)
rampageisgod- September 22, 2010 at 7:22 pm
Or sarcasm. My brain feels like dead weight right now.
rampageisgod- September 22, 2010 at 7:20 pm
Was calling Bisping likeable meant to be ironic? I feel stupid for not knowing.
fatbellyfrank- September 22, 2010 at 7:18 pm
^ with Snr doin a bit of wrasslin with the guys and then they go back to OCC and make Dana a new bike, yup, tell Fonzie to start warmin up his bike
Under Banga- September 22, 2010 at 6:29 pm
Is it any coincidence that the guy that produces American Chopper also produces TUF ? Maybe they could do a cross over show with Paulie an Snr droppin by the house . Fuck I`m amazed it hasn`t happened already .
OK cue the shark !
oki-who oki-ryu- September 22, 2010 at 5:59 pm
i think all the TUF fighters would do better with noguiera in their corner blasting out "yah" every 5 seconds.
Canadian Chronic- September 22, 2010 at 5:36 pm
how about...

TUF Runner Up Tommy Spears debut vs Anthony Johnson? bout handing someone their ass
mikerip- September 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm
LOL at at saying that Danzig let Guida "completely work him over on the ground". Have you seen that fight? 90% off the time was Guida *almost* getting a take down on Danzig up against the cage. It's one of the worst fights ever and barely a loss IMO.