The Ultimate Fighter: Team Pena vs Team Nunes concluded on Saturday with Juliana Miller and Mohammed Usman winning the 30th edition of the UFC’s long-running series. Both Miller and Usman finished their opponents to secure UFC contracts. They follow in the footsteps of over 50 other former “TUF” winners, a few of who dominated the UFC odds and became champions.
We list the best of these TUF grads, many of who did not win the competition, but ended up achieving plenty inside the octagon.
The All-Time Great Tier
1. Rashad Evans
In his 13-year UFC career, Evans won the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship and beat other all-time greats like Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, and Dan Henderson. Evans was unbeaten in his run to the title, which is something only the likes of Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones have bested.
2. T.J. Dillashaw
The former two-time bantamweight champion became one of a handful of TUF alumni to win the championship as a big underdog. What makes Dillashaw more than a feel-good story is his dominance since: going 8-1 in the 135-pound division with his only loss being a controversial split decision against the former champ: Dominick Cruz.
3. Kamaru Usman
While many TUF winners win the title as an underdog, Usman dominated his way to the top. Mohammed’s brother has looked unbeatable in the UFC and only seems to keep getting better. He’s been the best UFC bet since his debut and can extend his UFC record, 15 consecutive wins in the 170-pound division, with a win over Leon Edwards later this month.
4. Robert Whittaker
The second winner of the foreign edition of TUF went on to become the UFC middleweight champ. While he lost to Israel Adesanya twice, many scored the second fight in his favor. It’s unclear if he can do enough to get a third shot at Adesanya but should he lose to Alex Pereira, bet online on Whittaker to get another crack at the gold.
5. Rose Namajunas
Fans soured on Namajunas after her last fight, which proved to be one of the worst title fights in UFC history. But you can’t knock Namajunas’s achievements: the first multi-time women’s champion with wins over three of the last four champions. She also holds the record (tied with Jessica Andrade) for most stoppages in the division.
The Underdog Champion Tier
1. Michael Bisping
Bisping had one of the best storybook UFC careers. He consistently won in the UFC but couldn’t beat the top contenders to book a title shot. His opportunity came in UFC 199 when he filled in as a late replacement against UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold. Despite being a massive underdog, Bisping shocked the world to complete his “destiny”.
2. Forrest Griffin
One of two original TUF winners, Griffin was the original “Rocky” in the UFC. He upset the seemingly unstoppable Shogun Rua to book a title shot against another monster: Rampage Jackson. Despite being another sizable underdog on the online sportsbook, Griffin found a way to edge Jackson thus becoming the second TUF winner to capture a UFC title.
3. Julianna Pena
Pena may have just lost her title, but she became the first fighter to make Amanda Nunes look human in the last eight years. The first woman to win TUF, Pena has gone 7-3 in the UFC and has only lost to champions. Despite her lopsided defeat against Nunes, there is a plausibility of a trilogy fight where she can regain her belt.
4. Matt Serra
To this day, Serra’s win over Georges St-Pierre still stands as the biggest upset in UFC history. The diminutive fighter won Season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter as a veteran on a comeback. He was somewhere around a 7-1 underdog facing the UFC’s biggest rising star in “GSP”. But a few punches into the first and Serra became the first TUF winner to win UFC gold.
- Carla Esparza – two-time UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion
- Tony Ferguson – Interim UFC Lightweight Champion
- Kenny Florian – three-time title challenger
- Nate Diaz – most Fight of the Night bonuses
- Diego Sanchez – UFC Hall of Fame in Fight Wing: vs. Clay Guida