Ever since the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, many have questioned whether veterans of the reality show had the skills to compete at the elite levels of mixed martial arts.
After fighters like Josh Koscheck, Mike Swick, and Chris Leben tore through lower competition early in their UFC careers, it looked as though the reality show vets at least were good enough to be in the Octagon. When Forrest Griffin fought Tito Ortiz to a touch decision that really could have gone either way, the critics were silenced once again as a TUF alum had come within inches of defeating a UFC legend. Finally, when Griffin and TUF2 winner Rashad Evans won gold, all doubts were seemingly put to rest. Or so logic and reason would assume. From Sherdog:
The results from UFC 101 on Saturday in Philadelphia, however, call into question the sporting relevance of former TUF competitors, as all five former cast members who competed on the main card were soundly beaten by opponents who came from a traditional backgrounds — i.e. they did not receive their fame or notoriety from misbehaving on national television for a couple of weeks while locked up in a Las Vegas mansion. Is “The Ultimate Fighter” more hype than substance after all?
This is not even up for discussion. Even if Forrest and Rashad had not won titles, this would still not be an issue to anyone with a half-functioning brain sitting in their head.
An advocate of TUF fighters could sit around and talk about the success of guys like Forrest, Rashad, Swick, Koscheck, and Bisping. An opponent could cite a card like UFC 101 where former cast members of the show all lost. As with most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. The fact that every alumnus of The Ultimate Fighter who was on the UFC 101 card suffered a lost does not mean anything as there are cards where TUF vets are highly successful. The fact that many of the alums have garnered much success in the organization does not mean anything as guys like Chris Sanford and Jason Thacker existed.
There is nothing that separates the prospects that appear on the reality show from conventional prospects, with the exception of the visibility guys from the show receive. Of course the show itself is a lot of hype and many of the prospects who make it on the show aren’t cut out for the UFC. At the same time, many of the prospects who enter the UFC only to garner 0-2 or 0-3 records wind up not being cut out for the big show either. The point is that this “TUF guys” versus “everyone else” way of thinking is stale at best and logically flawed at worst.