Love it or hate it, the UFC’s reality series has produced plenty of relevant fighters in the MMA landscape today, as well as multiple champions. It’s difficult to define criteria for what makes one season better than the other, but the main two considerations were quality of fights, and future relevance of fighters.
#10: TUF 11: Liddell vs Ortiz/Franklin
One of the most underrated seasons of TUF, this was the first season to feature the ‘Wildcard’, whereby a losing fighter could re-enter the tournament. Also, interestingly, it’s still the only season of TUF where the wildcard winner actually went on to the finals (Kris McCray). The season also saw its fair share of injuries, but considering the number of fighters still fighting in the UFC, it’s hard not to put it in the top 10.
Notable Fighters: Court Mcgee, Costa Phillipou, Brad Tavares, Seth Bacyznski, Kyle Noke
#9: TUF Brazil 1: Silva vs Belfort
If nothing else, this season deserves a top 10 mention due to its role in the explosion of popularity of MMA in Brazil. While it was marred with some injuries, and some hilarious product placement, the fights were mostly top notch, and produced some solid contenders for the UFC.
Notable Fighters: Rony Jason, Cezar Ferreira, Francisco Trinaldo, Daniel Sarafian, Sergio Moraes
#8: TUF 17: Jones vs Sonnen
The test of time will really show how good this season was, but it was the first season of TUF to really upgrade the show’s production values. Plus, with a highlight reel KO from Uriah Hall, and a fantastic underdog story with Kelvin Gastelum, it was a hard season to not enjoy.
Notable Fighters: Kelvin Gastelum, Uriah Hall, Dylan Andrews, Josh Samman, Luke Barnatt
#7: TUF 4: The Comeback
With the stipulation that the winner of the season would receive an automatic title shot, this is by far the highest stakes season of TUF in the show’s history. And while Matt Serra cashed in big, Travis Lutter ended up falling flat and missed weight in his title shot with Anderson Silva. Add in Serra ripping Marc Laimon, Shonie Carter antics, and Scott Smith’s insane comeback against Pete Sell, and this season certainly deserves a mention.
Notable Fighters: Matt Serra, Patrick Cote, Chris Lytle
#6: TUF 7: Griffin vs Rampage
This was the first season to feature preliminary fights, and also the first season to feature a 32 fighter bracket. Early favorites emerged with CB Dolloway and Jesse Taylor, but Taylor’s antics would see him get kicked out of the finale. In the end, it was the underdog, Amir Sadollah, who emerged champion, defeating Dolloway twice to win the season’s crown. Unfortunately, Sadollah’s success was never matched in the UFC.
Notable Fighters: Matt Brown, Amir Sadollah, CB Dolloway, Mike Dolce