The 411 MMA Top 10 12.24.12: Top Ten Non Finalist TUF Competitors
Hey there gentle readers, I am Alex Rella and this is the MMA Top Ten. This week we will be looking at the top ten fighters to compete on The Ultimate Fighter but didn’t reach the finals. But first,
Thoughts from last week and other random stuff:
• Last week was the top ten BJ Penn fights and one reader commented that he would like to see Penn make one more run in the lightweight division. Penn has always been a true lightweight but he looked spent in his last fight. If he does fight again it should be at 155 lbs but I don’t know if it would be for more than one fight. But it would be cool to see him take on some of the top lightweights today.
• And the comment of the week goes to liveforcomplaining, “What about him vs. that one dude?”
Back to this week’s list
Two seasons of The Ultimate Fighter concluded last week and the fights between the competitors and the coaches were all pretty good. One of the first columns I did a few months ago was ranking the top TUF winners and runner-ups but this week we look at the other guys. There have been plenty of great fighters to come out of the TUF that didn’t even make the finals of their season. This was an interesting list as it was easy to pick who would make the list but ranking them was a little tricky as they were all pretty close. Some of these fighters have even gone on to coach their own season. This list was comprised based on the fighters’ success, record, significance to the sport, title shots, and some personal opinion.
• Matt Mitrione- former NFL defensive tackle has turned into a very solid heavyweight.
• Matt Wiman- Been a solid lightweight with the UFC since TUF season 5 and takes on TJ Grant next month.
• George Sotiropoulos- competitor on TUF season 6 and looked like he make a run at the lightweight title for a little while but three losses in a row have set him back a great deal. Just coached TUF: Smashes
Currently competing at welterweight but Mike Swick competed in the first season of TUF at light heavyweight. Stephan Bonnar knocked him out in the semifinals but Swick earned his Quick nickname at the finale when he knocked out Alex Schoenauer in only 20 seconds. Swick moved back down to middleweight after the show and won his next four fights. Okami would knock him out of title contention at UFC 69. Swick then decided to drop down to welterweight and went on a nice run for the title but would lose to Dan Hardy at UFC 105 in a number one contender fight. He was out for awhile with some injuries and a stomach condition but he returned in August on Fox. I doubt he’ll make another run at a title but it’s nice to see him back and healthy.
The Immortal Matt Brown has been with the UFC since TUF season 7 but he’s finally become a legitimate threat in the welterweight division. Brown fought under Team Forrest at middleweight but lost in the quarterfinals to teammate and eventual winner Amir Sadollah. He’s 9-5 in the UFC but he’s currently on a four fight win streak. The last win over Mike Swick was his most impressive as he showed off his ability on the ground and standing up as he won by knockout. There have been rumors that his next fight will be with Dan Hardy but I’d rather see him take on a top wrestler.
The Crippler returns to the octagon this week against Derek Brunson but he made his debut in the UFC during season 1 of TUF. The former WEC middleweight champion was one of the more memorable personalities on the inaugural season. From pissing on someone’s bed to his personal feuds with Bobby Southworth and Josh Koscheck, Leben definitely stood out. Koscheck eliminated Leben but he got another chance when he replaced Nate Quarry who had to back out because of an ankle injury. Florian beat Leben in the semis but he rebounded with a win at the finale. Leben won his first five fights in the UFC until Anderson Silva took him on in his UFC debut. Since then, Leben has always been an entertaining and dangerous middleweight with some big wins over Yoshihiro Akiyama and Wanderlei Silva. Hopefully he doesn’t test positive for steroids a third time.
The Dean of Mean Keith Jardine has not been very good the past couple years but he was once a respectable fighter in the UFC. Jardine competed as a heavyweight during the second season of TUF for team Franklin. Jardine lost to eventual winner Rashad Evans in the semifinals. Jardine dropped down to light heavyweight shortly after the season. Wins over Forrest Griffin, Chuck Liddell and Brandon Vera got him a spot in a number one contender fight against Rampage. Jardine lost this fight and the three that followed to get himself cut by the UFC. But a few wins in independent promotions got him signed in Strikeforce. He’s lost two in a row in so he might not get another chance in the UFC but I don’t see any harm in giving him one fight to prove himself.
The Young Assassin had a lackluster performance on Season 2 of TUF. Guillard fought at welterweight that season on Team Franklin. Josh Burkman knocked him out of the competition but Guillard rebounded with a win over Marcus Davis at the finale. He dropped down lightweight when the UFC brought back the division in 2006. Guillard has been one of top strikers in the lightweight division for years but his awful submission defense will always keep him from breaking through to the top of the division. He fights Jamie Varner next week at UFC 155.
Nate Quarry didn’t participate in any form of organized sports until he was 24 years old but it only took him a few years to find success in MMA. Quarry competed in the first season of TUF but had to drop out of the competition because of an ankle injury. He was all healed up to fight at the finale and three straight wins in the UFC got him a title shot against Rich Franklin. Quarry became the first Ultimate Fighter competitor to get a title shot in the UFC. Franklin knocked Quarry out at UFC 56. Quarry would get slowed down by injuries after the title shot but was a respectable fighter until he finished up his career in 2010. Now Quarry is a co-host on MMA Uncensored Live. Quarry always speaks intelligently on the show but his two co-hosts make the show unbearable to watch at times. But it’s nice to see that Quarry is doing well even though his fighting career is over.
Matt Hamill’s last fight at UFC 152 really sucked but it was his first fight in over a year so hopefully it was just some ring rust. It’s been a couple months since his last fight so I’m a little surprised he hasn’t had another one announced yet. But the Hammer made his UFC debut competing in TUF season 3. Hamill was on Team Ortiz but had to pull out because of some injuries. Hamill has been a pretty good light heavyweight during his time with the UFC (10-4). He’s picked up some big wins over Mark Munoz, Tim Boetsch, Keith Jardine, Jon Jones (DQ) and former coach Tito Ortiz. He’s only lost to some of the best and his career is even more impressive when you think about what he’s had to overcome as a deaf fighter.
Joe Lauzon is one of the most exciting fighters in the history of the UFC and competed in TUF season 5. This stacked season was coached by BJ Penn and Jens Pulver. Ironically he knocked out Pulver in his UFC debut a few months beforehand at UFC 63. Lauzon made it to the semifinals competing for Team Penn. It seems like whenever Lauzon gets close to a title shot an untimely loss sets him back. Though he is only 28 so it’s possible he hasn’t entered his prime yet. He takes on Jim Miller next week at UFC 155 and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t win Fight of the Night again.
Gray Maynard also competed in TUF season 5 and competed on Team Penn. Maynard was first exposed to MMA as a training partner to Penn and was Penn’s pick to win the season. The Bully only made it to the semifinals as Nate Diaz beat him by guillotine choke. Maynard took on Rob Emerson in an odd fight at the finale. Maynard slammed Emerson down to the mat in the second round and Emerson immediately tapped out. But the referee called it a no contest because he thought Maynard knocked himself out cold. Maynard disagreed but Dana White backed up the ref. Maynard then went on a tear beating top lightweights like Diaz, Florian, Edgar, Roger Huerta and Jim Miller. He then finished his awesome trilogy with Edgar for the lightweight title but what was on the losing end of it. He had a disgusting fight with Clay Guida which at least he won but he’s currently on the sidelines with an injury. I’d like to see Maynard take on one of the top WEC guys when he comes back.
Josh Koscheck has been a top fighter in the UFC since TUF season 1. He competed that season as a middleweight. The Division 1 All-American wrestler defeated Chris Leben to make the semifinals. Kos lost to eventual winner Diego Sanchez by split decision in the semis. Kos dropped down to welterweight shortly after and has become one of the best of all time at 170 lbs. He’s defeated top welterweights like Chris Lytle, Frank Trigg, Paul Daley and Matt Hughes. He even went on to coach season 12 of TUF leading up to his title shot against GSP. Unfortunately for him, GSP jabbed away his title hopes but Koscheck is still one of top welterweights in the world right now. I’m looking forward to his fight with Robbie Lawler at UFC 157. Should be a fun fight that gets him back on track.
• So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fighter out that you thought should be in the top 10.
• As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.
• Next week I’ll rank the top title fights of 2012.
Try not to die til next week.