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Rankings Spotlight: The Ultimate Fighter’s 10 Best Non-Finalists

(Bader beat him. K-Sos beat him. Lawlor beat him. Now he’s one of the toughest prospects in the light-heavyweight division — proving once again that shaving your head is always a good career move. Photo props to

Not to pee-pee on Tony Ferguson‘s parade, but winning The Ultimate Fighter is no guarantee of success in the UFC. On the other hand, getting eliminated while in the TUF house is no guarantee of failure either. In fact, some of today’s most dangerous UFC contenders are guys who entered the promotion through the reality show, but didn’t even get to fight for the glass trophy. In the wake of Saturday’s TUF 13 Finale, here’s how I’d rank the Top 10 non-finalists from The Ultimate Fighter, based on their current standing in the promotion…

#1: Gray Maynard

On TUF: Was choked out by Nate Diaz in the semi-finals of season 5.
These days: Drew with Frankie Edgar in his first lightweight title challenge in January, but will get another crack at the belt later this year. His pair of title fights against Edgar follow an eight-fight win streak in the Octagon, which included a decision win against Diaz in a rematch last year.

#2: Josh Koscheck

On TUF: Lost a split-decision to Diego Sanchez in the semi-finals of season 1.
These days: A perennial top contender in the welterweight division, Kos will be one of the front-runners for the belt if GSP ever leaves the division; until then, he’ll just have to be content with being “right up there.”

#3: George Sotiropoulos

On TUF: Was K.O.’d by Tommy Speer in the semi-finals of season 6.
These days: Even though he dropped a decision to Dennis Siver in his last fight, his previous seven-fight win streak — which included high-profile wins over Joe Stevenson, Kurt Pellegrino, and Joe Lauzon — established him as a player in the lightweight division. He’ll return to action against Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 132 next month.

#4: Melvin Guillard

On TUF: Lost a unanimous decision to Josh Burkman in the quarterfinals of season 2.
These days: Speaking of lightweight contenders, the Young Assassin has been on a tear lately. After going 3-0 in 2010, Guillard TKO’d Evan Dunham at “Fight for the Troops 2″ in January, picking up a Knockout of the Night bonus and some much-deserved respect. Next up on Melvin’s to-punch list: Shane Roller at UFC 132.

#5: Matt Mitrione

On TUF: Was submitted by James McSweeney in the quarterfinals of season 10, where he was best known as “the dude with the brain damage.”
These days: He’s done nothing but win since his time on the show, racking up a 4-0 Octagon record with victories over Big Baby, Kimbo, the Mexecutioner, and Tim Hague. Not exactly a who’s-who of heavyweight contenders, but he’s looked great so far. Mitrione’s next opponent will be Christian Morecraft at UFC on Versus 4, later this month.

#6: Matt Hamill

On TUF: Was unable to continue after his unanimous decision win over Mike Nickels in the quarterfinals of season 3.
These days: A constant presence in the light-heavyweight division, although his recent loss to Rampage Jackson doesn’t bode well for his future title prospects.

#7: Chris Leben

On TUF: Was outpointed by Josh Koscheck in the quarterfinals of season 1, then was brought back as an injury replacement, and lost to Kenny Florian by doctor’s stoppage TKO.
These days: Gearing up for a fight against Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132 that could re-establish him as a contender. His last fight ended in a TKO loss to Brian Stann that stopped an impressive three-fight win streak.

#8: Kyle Kingsbury

On TUF: Like Leben, his time on the show resulted in multiple losses. Kingsbury was submitted by Ryan Bader in the elimination round of season 8, brought back as an injury replacement, and then submitted again by Krzysztof Soszynski in the quarterfinals. Kingsbury was given another shot on the finale card against Tom Lawlor, and was defeated by unanimous decision.
These days: Incredibly, the UFC decided to keep Kingsbury around. It turned out to be a wise choice, as “Kingsbu” has gone 4-0 since the TUF 8 Finale, knocking off prospects like Jared Hamman, Ricardo Romero, and (last weekend) Fabio Maldonado.

#9: Matt Wiman

On TUF: Lost a decision to Manny Gamburyan in the quarterfinals of season 5.
These days: Riding a three-fight win streak, including victories over TUF 6 winner Mac Danzig and submission wizard Cole Miller, who also competed on TUF 5. His next fight will be against Dennis Siver at UFC 132. Damn, you noticing a trend here?

#10: George Roop

On TUF: Lost to Phillipe Nover by submission in the semi-finals of season 8.
These days: After dropping from lightweight to featherweight to bantamweight, then returning to featherweight, Roop is settling in at 145 with fantastic results. He’s gone 2-1-1 in his current featherweight campaign, with devastating knockout wins over Chan Sung Jung and Josh Grispi. His draw against Leonard Garcia — which should be considered a moral victory — won WEC 47′s Fight of the Night award.

- Ben Goldstein

Cagepotato Comments

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Walrus- June 8, 2011 at 11:35 am
Chris Lytle deserves to be on that list more than George Roop. Lytle's actually made a name for himself.
PorkandBeans- June 8, 2011 at 7:27 am
Not to bad of a list of ONCE AGAIN "FIGHTERS THAT DIDN'T MAKE IT TO THE FINALS" not "best non-winners". I would have Lauzon and Swick on the list over Roop and Kingsbury though.
EJayy- June 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm
Still don't believe Matt Wiman submitted Mac Danzig and hate it when people say he did. It was a clear mistake by the referee and should've been considered a no contest.
Bare Grappler- June 7, 2011 at 11:56 am
Krztsztof Soszyski has to be more of a 205 contender than Kingsbury.
topdog- June 7, 2011 at 8:51 am
Fabio Maldonaldo got robbed with no grease
RwilsonR- June 6, 2011 at 5:43 pm
What, no Lodune Sincaid?
And where are Diego Sanchez, Forrest Griffin, and Rashad Evans on this list? My lack of reading comprehension calls bullshit!
SquidInk- June 6, 2011 at 5:10 pm
Also, correcting my typo: Brendan Schaub, not Brandon. That's what happens when you're paying more attention to your beer than your keyboard.
macreadysshack- June 6, 2011 at 4:56 pm
@ just some dong . . . Hellloooo, Kyle Reese? Kyle Cobain? Kyle Seagal? Mike Kyle? Kyle Maclauchlin? My 20 year dead AD&D character Kyle Borgashin? I think 'just some dong' is the poop, if anything. The guy from Avatar, Kyle Worthington. Mackylesshack out, hater.
styless- June 6, 2011 at 4:50 pm
Ahh DID NOT make the finals, my bad.
styless- June 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm
Kingsbury and Mitrione but no Diego Sanchez or Kenny Florian?
Buff Frank Mir- June 6, 2011 at 4:29 pm
it's a list of people that didn't make the finals, like the title states.
SquidInk- June 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm
Where the hell is Brandon Schaub on that list?

Also, that Kos pic alone is enough to make me want to punch my monitor.
DangadaDang- June 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm
Poor Cole Miller, he can't ever seem to get a legit win streak together.
just some dong- June 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm
"Kyle" what a shit name that is.
ccman- June 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm
No shuab? I'm totally ok with it since I never see him braking past gate keeper but one of the "high hopes" fighters the ufc seems to love that I do not get
RwilsonR- June 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm
Yes, but under the official Marquess of Kingsbury rules, I believe he was the rightful winner.
Fried Taco- June 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm
Kingsbury didn't impress me Saturday night. By Stockton rules, he lost.
dim mak- June 6, 2011 at 2:12 pm
@WuTang--I agree that Mitrone's probably not as skilled as the other dudes on the list. but, based on his "standing in the promotion," he probably deserves a high ranking because heavyweights draw the eyeballs (and PPV $$) so much more than the other divisions. not saying it's right, or that i agree, but it's the reality of the MMA market.
dim mak- June 6, 2011 at 2:09 pm
that last sentence just reminds me of how much i hate leonard garcia. WAR PHAN!!
WuTangClan- June 6, 2011 at 2:08 pm
Fuck Mitrione being that high.