Who Will Be the Next TUF Winner to be Cut?

As Kendall Grove just became the third Ultimate Fighter winner to be cut from the UFC roster, it's become increasingly clear that winning the Ultimate Fighter is no longer a free pass for people to underperform as long as they're otherwise professional. Having started his UFC career winning three straight and seeming like he could be a future contender, Grove then went 4-6 since and bobbled up and down until he finally got completely manhandled by Tim Boetsch a couple weeks ago, leading to his pink slip. He's a fairly interesting guy to watch so hopefully he can find enough success on the indies to get another shot, either in the UFC or Strikeforce, and I definitely wish him luck.

Kendall Grove may be the third TUF winner to get cut, but he's the first one to not do anything more than lose matches. Travis Lutter, having won a golden ticket to leapfrog past a whole slew of individuals to get a shot at Anderson Silva, ended up missing weight for a championship fight, which more than erased any special protection or goodwill he might have gotten from being a TUF winner. Dana White's expression at the weigh-ins was quite similar to a man watching a million dollars being burned in a bonfire, and Lutter was nearly booed out of the arena when he entered for his match. Silva predictably stopped him in the second round in what was now a non-title fight. One fight later in what was merely the second hardest match-up the UFC could have possibly given Lutter, Rich Frankin TKO'd him right out of the company. Two-and-a-half years later, Efrain Escudero managed to also miss weight for a fight, and lost his second fight in three outings to the much less heralded Charles Oliveira, proving you don't have to fuck up a PPV main-event, you just have to generally fuck up on top of losing to get fired.

Kendall Grove though didn't do anything particularly shameful. He just lost two fights in a row and three of his last four. This is pretty much a standard reason for the UFC to fire any well-known-but-struggling fighter.

Kendall Grove may have some company soon though, as Joe Stevenson looks to be fighting for his job this Sunday, when he drops down to Featherweight to take on Javier Vazquez at UFC on Versus Live 4. So I thought I'd put together this poll.

To review, here is every winner of The Ultimate Fighter to date:

TUF 1: Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez
TUF 2: Rashad Evans, Joe Stevenson
TUF 3: Michael Bisping, Kendall Grove
TUF 4: Travis Lutter, Matt Serra
TUF 5: Nate Diaz
TUF 6: Mac Danzig
TUF 7: Amir Sadollah
TUF 8: Ryan Bader, Efrain Escudero
TUF 9: James Wilks, Ross Pearson
TUF 10: Roy Nelson
TUF 11: Court McGee
TUF 12: Jonathan Brookins
TUF 13: Tony Ferguson


After reviewing the list, I whittled it down to five people who I think are in legitimate danger if they lose their next fight. Outside of those five, everyone except Ryan Bader has won their most recent match (including Mac Danzig, who I felt I should mention since he's been getting a lot of comments below; he's won two of his last three now, actually, but I'm open to arguments as to why he's the most in danger of being cut anyway). In order by season:


Joe Stevenson - Season 2, Welterweight winner, has since competed at Lightweight and will be debuting at Featherweight


Last 4 Matches:

L - Danny Castillo (UD) | L - Mac Danzig (KO) | L - George Sotiropoulos (UD) | W - Spencer Fisher (Submission)

Next Fight: Javier Vazquez, UFC on Versus Live 4, on June 26.

What he has going against him: He's lost three in a row. The only fighter I can think of who has lost four in a row in Zuffa and still been given one more chance is Jens Pulver. If Stevenson loses a fourth consecutive fight, short of a blatant robbery in a judges decision, he is gone.

What he has going for him: If he'd only lost two in a row, then I'd mention that he is a popular, former #1 contender at LW who is making his debut in a new weight class that really needs familiar faces to draw attention to it. But really, the only thing going for him is he might win his next match.


Matt Serra - Season 4, Welterweight winner


Last 4 Matches:

L - Chris Lytle (UD) | W - Frank Trigg (TKO) | L - Matt Hughes (UD) | L - Georges St. Pierre (TKO)

Next Fight: Not yet scheduled

What he has going against him: If he loses his next fight he'll have lost four of his last five, in the UFC's most competitive division (seriously, they actually have more Welterweights right now than Lightweights).

What he has going for him: He's a very well known, well-liked fighter, a former TUF coach, and a former UFC World Champion. Also his next fight isn't even scheduled yet.



Nate Diaz - Season 5, Lightweight winner, also competes at Welterweight


Last 4 Matches:

L - Rory MacDonald (UD) | L - Dong Hyun Kim (UD) | W - Marcus Davis (Technical Submission) | W - Rory Markham (TKO)

Next fight: Takanori Gomi, UFC 135, on September 24.

What he has going against him: If he loses his next fight he'll have lost three in a row. Also, he's the next guy on this list with a scheduled match after Joe Stevenson, and Takanori Gomi is a pretty tough opponent.

What he has going for him: He's an exciting and popular fighter, and the brother of Welterweight #1 Contender Nick Diaz, a rather rash young man that Dana White would like to keep very much on his good side, at least until he fights GSP at UFC 137. I'd add that he regularly fights in two divisions, but when they're the two most crowded divisions in the company that's kind of a wash.


James Wilks  - Season 9, Welterweight winner


Last 4 Matches:

L - Claude Patrick (UD) | W - Peter Sobotta (UD) | L - Matt Brown (TKO) | W - DaMarques Johnson (Submission)

Next Fight: Not yet scheduled.

What he has going against him: Out of the 16 TUF winners from seasons 1-10, James Wilks is arguably the least well known, and possibly the least well known ever. Even some hardcore fans don't know who the guy is. Since he won the Welterweight tournament in TUF Season 9, he's gone 1-2 against lower-tier competition in what again, is the UFC's most crowded division.

What he has going for him: Dana White tends to give a bit more leeway to British fighters, since he needs enough of them to run events in the U.K. He also doesn't have his next match scheduled, so someone else could lose before him.


Roy Nelson - Season 10, Heavyweight winner


Last 4 Matches:

L - Frank Mir (UD) | L - Junior dos Santos (UD) | W - Stefan Struve (TKO) | W - Brendan Schaub (KO)

Next Fight: Not yet scheduled.

What he has going against him: If he loses his next match it will be three in a row. Add to this the fact that his most recent fight was a boring wall & stall clinchfest where he gassed out horribly, and Dana White has publicly criticized the large spare tire around the guy's waste. He doesn't look like an elite athlete at all.

What he has going for him: Whether you believe that he had walking pneumonia going into his last fight or not, he's still a top 20 fighter in the UFC's shallowest division. Additionally, despite being shallow, Heavyweight is one of the two biggest drawing divisions along with Light Heavyweight. What's more, Roy is also a fairly charismatic guy who stands out on the roster precisely because he doesn't look like an elite athlete at all. He looks like your wacky uncle or cousin. Finally his last two opponents were to former Champion and top 10 HW Frank Mir, and to the current #1 Contender and consensus #2 HW fighter on the planet, Junior dos Santos, a man who either sliced through every other UFC opponent or battered them like a piñata (see Shane Carwin). He certainly hasn't been losing to chumps.


Personally, I think Joe Stevenson has the strongest chance here, but since I'd favor him to win over Javier Vazquez, I don't think his chances are better than everyone else's combined. If you'd like to choose someone not in the poll, I'd certainly like to see your choice in the comment section, as I definitely could have missed someone, and this is all just a matter of opinion anyway.


Anyway credit to Beth from Gals Guide to MMA for inspiring me to make thi

\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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