The 5 Best Fighters to Emerge from the International TUF Series

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2014

The 5 Best Fighters to Emerge from the International TUF Series

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    The Ultimate Fighter has been spreading to a global scale lately, which in turn has brought more international fighters to our attention. It has also helped expand the sport.

    We have seen versions of the reality show in Brazil, China, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. They have brought us some unlikely stars, as well as some duds in the process.

    So, who are the five best fighters to emerge from the international versions of the show? Let's take a look.

Honorable Mentions

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    Hannah Peters/Getty Images
    1. Antonio Carlos Jr. (TUF Brazil 3 winner, 1-0 UFC record)
    2. Chad Laprise (TUF Nations winner, 1-0 UFC record)
    3. William Macario (TUF Brazil 2 runner-up, 1-1 UFC record)
    4. Sergio Moraes (TUF Brazil runner-up, 2-1 UFC record)
    5. Leonardo Santos (TUF Brazil 2 winner, 1-0-1 UFC record)
    6. Thiago Santos (TUF Brazil 2 vet, 1-2 UFC record against top-25 competition)
    7. Robert Whittaker (TUF Smashes winner, 3-2 UFC record)

5. Warlley Alves

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    Series: TUF Brazil 3

    UFC Record: 1-0

    OK, I know Warlley Alves only has one fight with the UFC, but he has the potential to be the best winner to come from the Brazil installments in the near future.

    Alves is undefeated in his career at 7-0, showing some great, well-rounded skills in the process. He is especially good in the submission part of his game, where he owns four wins including by two guillotine choke.

    He used a guillotine choke to win the TUF Brazil 3 title over Marcio Alexandre, a credible opponent who fights a weight class above where Alves usually fights. That is ultra-impressive.

    Moving forward, the UFC may have a marketable fighter who can be a hero in Brazil. If he keeps developing the way he already has been, he is going to be a force at 170 pounds.

4. Elias Theodorou

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    Series: TUF Nations

    UFC Record: 1-0

    As with Alves on the previous slide, Elias Theodorou has just one fight in the UFC under his belt. However, his potential is what makes him one of the best fighters to come out of the international TUF shows.

    A kickboxer by trade, Theodorou has rounded out his game with impressive wrestling and heavy top position. He is comfortable wherever the fight is and could be the next star to come out of Canada.

    His debut against a tough Sheldon Westcott was especially impressive. He dominated him throughout the fight, using takedowns and heavy ground striking to wear down his fellow countryman.

    That kept his record perfect at 9-0. If he continues to make strides in his game, especially in a middleweight division that is light on talent, he could be a contender in no time.

3. Rony Jason

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    Series: TUF Brazil 1

    UFC Record: 4-2

    The featherweight winner of the original TUF Brazil series, Rony Jason has been a great addition to the UFC's ranks despite recent struggles to stay healthy and consistent.

    Jason has finished Sam Sicilia, Steven Siler and Mike Wilkinson, using his underrated striking and brilliant jiu-jitsu in those bouts. Not only that, but he outhustled Godofredo Pepey to win the TUF Brazil title.

    His losses have come due to a big step up in competition and a controversial decision. He was knocked senseless by Jeremy Stephens in his first UFC defeat and lost to Robbie Peralta controversially after breaking his hand in the first round.

    Despite all of that, Jason has been a shining example of why the UFC has taken the reality show across the globe. He is talented and tough and always brings the fight.

2. Cezar Ferreira

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    Series: TUF Brazil 1

    UFC Record: 4-1

    Just like Rony Jason, Cezar Ferreira was the winner of the original TUF Brazil. And like Jason, he has been a success thus far in his UFC tenure.

    Until a recent setback to CB Dollaway, Ferreira was on a role in the UFC. The Vitor Belfort teammate owned wins over fellow Brazilians Sergio Moraes, Thiago Santos and Daniel Sarafian, as well as his most recent win over American Andrew Craig.

    He has shown to be a powerful puncher, as well as a competent ground fighter with good submissions. Those well-rounded skills have him primed to be a guy who will flourish in a thin middleweight division.

    Keep your eye on him going forward. Training with the Blackzilians and being Belfort's protege are two things that will continue to improve his skill set.

1. Norman Parke

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    Series: TUF Smashes

    UFC Record: 4-0-1

    Undoubtedly, Norman Parke has been the best international fighter since the UFC has expanded the show globally. That is evident by his 4-0-1 record (which could be 5-0) in his UFC tenure.

    Parke is a heavy top-game grappler with great control and improving ground strikes. He has improved his stand-up enough to be even more of a threat than he was upon entering the company.

    His wins have come over good competition as well. In addition to knocking out Naoyuki Kotani in his most recent fight, Parke has won decisions over Colin Fletcher, Jon Tuck and Kazuki Tokudome. His draw against Leonardo Santos would have been a win had he not been deducted a point.

    Parke has now pushed himself into the upper part of the 155-pound hierarchy. He has a big fight on November 15 when he challenges Diego Sanchez at the UFC's debut in Mexico.