The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV: Best and Worst of the Series, part 1

As my ol' granddad used to say: "'Tis the season to bequeath informal awards to combat-sport-based reality shows!"

And so welcome to part one of a two-part series wherein we gaze back more or less fondly upon The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV, recognizing the best and worst that the series has had to offer.

Strongest Cast

From extraneous hostess Willa Ford to the practice of eliminating fighters before they got to compete, the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter was in many ways a clumsy affair. There's one thing that season got right, though: putting a bunch of nasty mothertruckers into the UFC.

Of the original sixteen cast members, 50% were retained by the UFC beyond the handful of customary, post-TUF appearances usually tossed to contestants. All of those eight are still cracking skulls in the Octagon. One, Forrest Griffin, went onto become light-heavyweight champion. Four contestants--Josh Koscheck, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez and Nate Quarry--challenged for a UFC title, and six of the original cast have appeared in or near the Top 10 of their division. Most excellent.

Honorable Mention: I have a soft spot for the series' fifth season, featuring coaches Jens Pulver and B.J. Penn. Six of that original cast are still in the UFC, with two--Gray Maynard and Manvel Gamburyan--having challenged for a title. More significant to me, however, is the raw talent and dynamic performances of the group, which includes Matt Wiman, Joe Lauzon, and Cole Miller.

After the jump, "Weakest Cast," "Biggest Surprise," and more...

Weakest Cast

There are, unfortunately, far more candidates for this category, and so we end up with a three-way tie. On the one hand, you have the sixth season, coached by Matt Hughes and Matt Serra. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the contestants could have guessed from the outset that Mac Danzig was going to waltz through the competition, making the whole show feel kind of meaningless. And while season standout George Sotiropoulos managed to sneak up on the Top 10, it's hard to ignore that he's part of a slim 12.5% of the original cast to remain in the UFC. And there was the little matter of Joey Scarola, who despite the pleas of Matt Serra and Ray Longo (not only his coaches, but his personal friends) gave up his spot in the house because he was, like, bored or something.

On the other hand, you have The Ultimate Fighter: USA vs. UK. While a fair 25% of the cast has been retained, none have made any impact, and James Wilks, the welterweight champion of the show, hasn't yet been able to string two wins together in the UFC.

On a third, irradiated mutant hand, you have season 13, coached by Brock Lesnar and Junior Dos Santos. You'd think, given that this recent crop has had less time to screw up, that more of them would, just by sheer chance, still be in the UFC. Yet, beyond lightweight winner Tony Fergusson, only a couple have managed to stick around. I cannot say enough about how little I have to say about this cast.

Biggest Surprise

Heading into the house last picked and under-sized, it seems that everyone considered Rashad Evans to be the weakest link among the Season 2 heavyweights. Three years and nine UFC fights later, he became the UFC's first undefeated light-heavyweight champion.

Honorable Mention: Season 8's "Urine in Fruit Salad."

Biggest Disappointment

I don't know how and I don't know why, but at one point Dana White insisted that Phillipe Nover, who has won approximately zero fights in the UFC, was the next Anderson Silva. No one (including Anderson Silva, when you think about it) can feel good about the way things played out.

Honorable Mention: Season 8's "Urine in Fruit Salad."

Worst...Just the Worst

The knee-jerk reaction may be for us as a community to take our semi-annual dump on Noah Inhofer, who despite punching (or arm-barring, as it were) his ticket into the Season 3 quarterfinals decided to quit and go home because his girlfriend wrote him a letter accusing him of cheating on her. But then again, the abysmal track record of Quinton Jackson--who had not one but two whole seasons to figure out how to give a crap--might also fit here nice and snug. Or what about the predictable appearance of thong underwear during the show's weigh-ins, which, despite how tired and flatly stupid the gag is, somehow manages to always draw uproarious applause. There's also the sad fact that I've more or less memorized, by osmosis, the lyrics to The Ultimate Fighter theme song. Bear witness to the fitness! Awards for everyone!

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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