Is nine seasons enough?
People of significance that fought in the UFC from TUF:
Season 1: Forrest Griffin, Mike Swick, Stephan Bonnar, Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck, Kenny Florian, Nate Quarry and Chris Leben.
Out of those guys, the only one's of real significance are Forrest and Florian, after that guys like Swick, Koscheck, Quarry and others are all solid fighters still and will compete near the top of their division. As far as champions go, we only have Forrest on the list, but KenFlo is set for his second shot at a title in the near future against BJ Penn.
Season 2: Keith Jardine, Rashad Evans, Marcus Davis, Joe Stevenson, Josh Burkeman.
Out of this group the only fighters with any significance are Rashad, Jardine and Stevenson. Stevenson fought for the title, and Jardine is hanging around the top of the 205 ranks. Rashad is right now in a class of his own, the Light Heavyweight champion of the world, and undefeated. I don't think ANYONE could have predicted that coming from the pudgy fighter he was on the show.
Season 3: Kendall Grove, Michael Bisping, Matt Hamill.
This groups only fighters that are still hanging around with any lustre are Bisping and Hamill. Grove had some good runs, but he won't ever be a top guy and is only getting mention because he won the show's division. Hamill will probably never be champion, but will always put on a great fight and compete against some tough opponents. For Bisping, he still needs an ass-kicking to get his head on straight and bring him back down to earth.
Season 4: This one is a little different because it was the comeback season. But the only one who made a splash was obviously Matt Serra. Patrick Cote and Rich Clementi have been successful since the show as well. As far as mostly everyone else, it's a wash.
Season 5: Joe Lauzon and Nathan Diaz are the only names worth mentioning right now from this series. It hasn't been very long though to let these LW get into the system but only these two guys have set themselves apart and in Lauzons case it is only because of a pre-TUF knockout of Jens Pulver. You do have some guys to watch out for in the very near future though, Gray Maynard, Cole Miller and Manny Gamburyan all COULD have nice careers, but champions? I don't think so.
Season 6: The only person of significance is Mac Danzig who walked through TUF, but he is also nothing to write home about. Again, this season needs more time to develop but as far as potential goes, I'm not expecting much.
And Season 7 you can't judge at all really. It's been so soon after the finale of the show that it's tough. You have the likes of Amir Sodallah who won the show, but what is his potential? I don't think his ceiling is overly high but he could surprise me. C.B. Dollaway is another name to remember from this show as well as Matt Brown. For the others, they will fight for undercard fights on UFC fight cards and the majority of them will dissolve off into lesser promotions.
And in the most recent season of TUF, we seen Ryan Bader and Efrain Escudero win the seasons but overall the talent level wasn't that high. The other fighters with some potential include Junie Browning (even though he's a head case) Vinicius Magalhaes,Krzystof Sosynski and Phillipe Norver. This is another though one to call, the old chicken before the egg scenario really.
So here we are, about to enter the ninth season of TUF reality series and sure, I am excited. I want to see some good fights, some feuds and get a first look at some fighters that potentially become champions one day. But am I out there looking for champions in the show and looking for guys that are going to be landmark fighters like Chuck Liddell and Anderson Silva? Not a chance.
TUF needs to change up its style and format to be a little bit more fan-friendly. With the sport ever expanding TUF makes the perfect stage to bring in fans to the sport, the same way the show brings in new fighters to the UFC. The show is free on SpikeTV and if the UFC wants it to be the ultimate promotional tool they need to have a bigger payday at the end of the road. Too many guys realize now that they can make it big in MMA without going through TUF reality show and spending all that time away from home.
For now, on April 1 when season 9 begins we're going to just have to take it for what it's worth, and if you're upset and sick of TUF like I am? Then just look forward to the beating that will ensue when Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping face off with one another at UFC 100.