The Ultimate Fighter Winners: Do They Make the Grade ?

Sean SchimlingAnalyst IDecember 7, 2008

In wake of the eighth season coming to an end, it makes me think back. Remembering the earlier seasons of The Ultimate Fighter. Thinking about the winner(s) of each season, and how they're doing.

It made me think, who was the best winner? If they were to be graded, what grade would they be given? So then I thought, why don't I just grade them?

So here it goes.


Forrest Griffin

He took part in an epic battle against Stephan Bonnar. It was the fight that took UFC to the promise land. After he defeated Bonnar, his first bout was at UFC 53, against Bill Mahood (clearly a throw away opponent). He disposed of him quickly! Forrest went on to face Elvis Sinosic, winning by TKO in the first round.

He then faced his toughest opponent Tito Ortiz, he lost by split decision, but gained fan support because of his heart! He then had a rematch with Stephan Bonnar and came out victorious once again.

He then faced Keith Jardine at UFC 66. That fight also ended in the first round, but Forrest wasn't victorious. He was TKO'D and was emotional after his defeat. Promising to be back stronger than ever, he reeled of two very impressive wins.

He was then announced as the No. 1 contender for the light-heavyweight title, and a coach on The Ultimate Fighter Season Seven. He then went on to face champion and fellow coach, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.

He fought hard through five rounds and emerged as the new light-heavyweight champion. He now sits on top of the most stacked division in the UFC!

Grade: A

Season One

Diego Sanchez

Diego Sanchez came into the show 11-0 and was my pick from the very beginning. He proved that his record wasn't all hype. He went on to face Kenny Florian in the finale. He won that fight by TKO in the first round.

His first fight was against Brian Gassaway (another throw away opponent.) He disposed of him in the first round by submitting him. He then went on to face Nick Diaz, who was a top contender at the time. Sanchez beat him by unanimous decision—the fight was Diego's first true test.

He went on to beat John Alessio, Karo Parisyan, and Joe Riggs. At this point, Diego Sanchez was seen as a legit title contender. He went on to fight fellow TUF One cast mate Josh Koscheck. Koscheck was able to out wrestle Diego and ride out a unanimous decision, giving Diego his first loss.

He then went on to face Jon Fitch, and lost again. For the first time in his career people were doubting him.

At UFC 82 Diego was given a throw away opponent. He came away with a first round victory. He then faced Luigi Fioravanti at the TUF Seven finale and won by TKO. He was slated to fight Thiago Alves but was injured. He is now rumored to be fighting at lightweight for his next bout.

Grade: B

Season Two

Joe Stevenson

Joe Stevenson was the welterweight winner of season two. He lost his first UFC fight to Josh Neer, leaving many to question "Big Daddy." He went on to redeem himself with wins over Dokonjonosuke Mishima, Melvin Guillard, and Kurt Pelligrino. He was then thought of as a legit title contender.

He would get his shot at the lightweight title at UFC 80, against the highly regarded B.J. Penn. Stevenson went on to lose to Penn by rear naked choke in round two. During the fight, Stevenson was severely bloodied by a right uppercut in the first round. He showed a lot of heart by surviving and gained a lot of respect.

He then went on to rebound at UFC 86 with a win over Gleison Tibau by guillotine choke. He then fought former TUF One finalist Kenny Florian at UFC 91. It was said the winner would be the No. 1 contender for the belt. Stevenson lost in the first round by rear naked choke.

He is now waiting for his next opponent, hoping to get back to winning.

Grade: B-

Rashad Evans

Rashad Evans won the heavyweight division of The Ultimate Fighter Two. He went on to face Brad Imes in the finals and won by split decision. His first fight in the UFC was against Sam Hoger, a former TUF alum. He beat him by split decision as well.

He then faced Stephan Bonnar at UFN Five, and won by majority decision, many people thought Rashad was a boring fighter. His next fight was at UFC 63, he faced Jason Lambert, and finally scored his first KO in the UFC. He stopped Lambert by raining punches down from the mount position.

He then scored on of the most infamous knockouts in UFC history. He threw a head kick at Sean Salmon's dome and connected, resulting in Salmon getting hauled off in a stretcher. Evans then went on to face his toughest test, Tito Ortiz.

Tito Ortiz dominated the first two rounds, but Rashad took the third. Many thought Rashad would suffer his first loss, but the match was a draw; Tito was penalized a point for grabbing the fence.

Evans then went on to face Micheal Bisping at UFC 78, winning by another split decision. Then came UFC 88, he faced Chuck Liddell. Evans caught Liddell with an overhand right that landed on Liddell's chin, resulting in another highlight reel knockout.

Now Evans is the No.1 contender for the light-heavyweight title and is facing Forrest Griffin at UFC 92.

Grade: A-

Season Three

Kendall Grove

Kendall Grove was my favorite on Season Three; he had charisma and skills to backup his talk. He went on to fight Ed Herman in the finals and pounded his way to a unanimous victory.

He had his first UFC fight at Shamrock v.s. Ortiz 3: The final chapter. He faced Chris Price, and dominated his way to a first round victory. He then faced Alan Belcher at UFC 69, and won via D'arce choke.

He went on to face Patrick Cote, with a win over Cote, I believe he would've been brought up in title talks. But Cote was able to knock him out in the first round. Grove was trying to rebound with a win over Jorge Rivera but fell victim to another first-round defeat.

Grove then went back to the basics and was up to fight Evan Tanner (R.I.P.) at The Ultimate Fighter Seven Finale. He went on to earn a split decision victory, and he looked in great shape during the bout.

Her is now waiting for his next opponent. A lot of people believe he'd be a great fight for Amir Sadollah.

Grade: C

Michael Bisping

England's favorite son, Michael Bisping, was a force on Season Three. He was the early favorite and did not disappoint. He went on to dismantle everyone he crossed paths with, eventually fighting Josh Haynes in the finale. He TKO'd Haynes in the second round, leaving many to think he could be a serious contender.

His first fight was against Eric Shafer at UFC 66, and he went on to throttle him, resulting in a first-round victory. He went on to win his next two fights but was halted by TUF Two winner Rashad Evans. His first loss came by split decision at UFC 78.

He then announced he'd be dropping to the 185 pound weight class. He made his middleweight debut at UFC 83, defeating Charles McCarthy in the first round. He then demolished Jason Day at UFC 85. Then faced fan favorite Chris Leben at UFC 89, winning the fight by unanimous decision.

He then was announced as a coach for The Ultimate Fighter Nine. He will go on to face his fellow coach, and it's rumored that the winner of the coach's fight will face Anderson Silva for the middleweight title.

Grade: B+

Season Four

Travis Lutter

This season was a little different, it featured fighter who have already competed in the UFC and came up short. It had a comeback theme.

Lutter was 1-2 coming into the house, and I hated him on the show. He made it to the finale, where he faced Patrick Cote. He submitted Cote in the first round to win a title shot. At UFC 67, he had his chance to win the middleweight title. WAIT!!!

Lutter faced Anderson Silva at UFC 67, but it wasn't a title shot. Lutter failed to make weight, resulting in a non-title match. He lost anyways by submission in Round Two, but that's beside the point.

He would later face former champion Rich Franklin at UFC 83 and lose by TKO in round two. He was later released by the UFC. I can't blame them..

Grade: D

Matt Serra

Matt Serra had a record of 4-4 before the show. He was viewed as a leader on the show, he was also a fan favorite. He avenged his loss to Shonie Carter and went on to face Chris Lytle in the finale. He won the fight by split decision, earning a title shot against Georges St. Pierre.

He cashed in on his title shot at UFC 69; he was a huge under dog. But Serra defied many analysts and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history. He TKO'd GSP in the first round, and you couldn't help but feel good for the guy.

He then was set to face Matt Hughes at UFC 79, it was a coach v.s. coach fight. Serra was the coach on The Ultimate Fighter Six. But was forced to pull out due to an injury. Her later faced GSP again at UFC 83 to unify the belts. He lost by TKO in round two.

He is now set to face Matt Hughes at UFC 96 or 97.

Grade: B-

Season Five

Nate Diaz

Nate Diaz is the younger brother of Nick Diaz and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He was cocky and short tempered on the show. But he proved he could backup all the talk by submitting his way to the finale.

He fought teammate Manny Gamburyan in the finale, he won by submission. Manny's shoulder was injured in the second round. Diaz went on to win his next three fights, all by submission.

He then faced Josh Neer, who already had beaten an Ultimate Fighter winner once. Neer had Diaz in trouble, but Diaz showed heart and stuck it out, and won by split decision. He is now 5-0 inside the octagon.

He is now scheduled to fight Clay Guida at UFC 94, the winner will most likely face Sean Sherk.

Grade: A-

Season Six

Mac Danzig

Mac Danzig was a former KOTC lightweight champion before coming on the show. He easily disposed his opponents on his way to the finale. He met teammate Tommy Speer in the finale.

He dominated Speer and submitted him, earning him the victory. He was then matched up against Mark Bocek at UFC 83. He defeated Bocek in the third round by rear naked choke.

Danzig was then matched up with fan favorite Clay Guida at UFN 15. Guida dominated most of the fight,and beat Danzig by unanimous decision. It was Danzig's first loss since winning The Ultimate Fighter.

He is now waiting for his next opponent. I've heard Joe Lauzon's name tossed around.

Grade: C

Season Seven

Amir Sadollah

Can't give him a fair grade yet, he's only had one fight, but I'll try. He cruised through his opponents on his way to the finale. He was met at the finale by C.B. Dollaway, who Sadollah already beat.

He repeated the task and won by first round submission, and was declared The Ultimate Fighter Season Seven winner. He looked very impressive in his fight.

He's now set to face Nick Cantone at UFN 17, we'll see how he does.

Grade (For Now): B


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