By Thomas Gerbasi
The Ultimate Fighter series has been the launching pad for some of the game’s rising stars, from Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, and Michael Bisping, to recent winners Nate Diaz and Amir Sadollah. But in season four, which premiered in August of 2006, the format of the show changed, as 16 UFC veterans were brought in for one last chance at glory.
When it was all over, the two winners of the show weren’t awarded UFC contracts – they were given world title shots. One of those winners made good on his shot, but what of the other 15 competitors? Read on for progress reports on the TUF4 cast.
THE BIG WINNER
UFC record 6-5 (1-1 since show)
Who else can go here at the top than the fighter who won the welterweight division of The Ultimate Fighter 4, earned his shot at the title, and then made the most of it by stopping the seemingly unbeatable Georges St-Pierre at UFC 69 in April of 2007? And while I’m not going to lie and say I picked Serra to win, his body of work, underrated power, and ability to be a tough night out for anyone in the Octagon with him made me believe that the fight with GSP was going to be tougher than most expected. And the Long Islander did that one better by stopping the champ in the first round. Serra would lose his crown back to St-Pierre at UFC 83, but a bout early next year against heated rival Matt Hughes will be enough to not only motivate Serra but to propel him back among the big names at 170 pounds should he win convincingly. Not bad for a guy written off repeatedly over the course of an almost ten year career.
NEXT IN LINE
UFC record 4-4 (4-0 since show)
It’s almost like Quebec’s Patrick Cote has had three careers thus far in his mixed martial arts lifetime. First was his career in Canada, where he is currently 9-0 as a pro. Next was the first half of his UFC career, up to and including his loss to Travis Lutter in the TUF4 finale. This portion saw Cote compile an 0-4 slate. Finally, and most importantly, there is his post-TUF career in the UFC, where he is 4-0 with wins over Scott Smith, Kendall Grove, Drew McFedries and Ricardo Almeida. This Cote has earned a shot at middleweight champ Anderson Silva at UFC 90 on October 25th, and while he is going into the fight as an underdog, with his punching power and solid chin, if he can keep it standing and capture lightning in a bottle on fight night, we may be looking at an upset of Serra-esque proportions.
UFC record 5-3 (5-1 since show)
The MMA comeback story of the last 12 months, Clementi has been unstoppable as of late, a stark contrast to his time during and immediately after TUF4, when he just seemed to be treading water in his career. But after he lost to Roan Carneiro at UFC Fight Night in April of 2007, ‘No Love’ has been a changed man, scoring six wins in a row, including UFC victories over young guns Anthony Johnson, Melvin Guillard, Sam Stout, and Terry Etim. Next for Clementi is unbeaten Gray Maynard, and if he comes out with his seventh straight victory, you have to start talking about the Louisiana native in the 155-pound title picture.
ON THE BUBBLE
UFC record 4-8 (2-3 since show)
Luck is rarely on Chris Lytle’s side when it comes to the UFC. Made it to the TUF4 welterweight finals with wins over Pete Spratt and Din Thomas, and then lost a razor-thin decision to Matt Serra at the finale. The win gave Serra a title shot; Lytle got back in line and took a three round defeat at the hands of Matt Hughes. ‘Lights Out’ bounced back with wins over Jason Gilliam and Matt Brown, but then saw a cut prematurely end his UFC 78 fight against Thiago Alves, and after a 33 second win over Kyle Bradley, Lytle’s skin betrayed him again in a decision loss to Josh Koscheck in July. Will be back in action against fellow banger Paul Taylor at UFC 89, and it’s a must-win for both fighters.
UFC record 1-4 (0-2 since show)
What do you do with a guy like Sell, who went 1-1 on TUF4, beating Charles McCarthy and losing to Travis Lutter? He’s lost fights he was moments away from winning against Scott Smith and Nate Quarry (in their rematch), and is always in exciting fights. But if he doesn’t win, he’s in a precarious spot. So what’s the solution? For Sell, it’s a drop to welterweight, where he will take on Josh Burkman in an important matchup for both fighters at UFC 90 on October 25th.
UFC record 4-5 (1-2 since show)
Has faced practically everyone of note in the middleweight division since his pro debut in 2001, including Anderson Silva, Rich Franklin, David Loiseau, Chris Leben, and Martin Kampmann. Lost on the show to another 185 pound stalwart – Patrick Cote – but bounced back with an impressive first round stoppage of Edwin Dewees on the finale card. Since then has been erratic, with first round losses to Terry Martin and Martin Kampmann sandwiching an impressive 80 second knockout of Kendall Grove in January. His next UFC fight may determine what his future in the organization is, and at 36 years old, the clock is ticking on the classy ‘El Conquistador’.
CURRENTLY OUT OF THE UFC PICTURE
UFC record 2-1
A veteran of the UFC’s lean years, Burnett was 2-1 in the UFC in 1998-99, and hadn’t fought since, but when the call came for TUF4, Burnett eagerly got back to business. Was submitted by Din Thomas, but may be best remembered for trying to run through a wall during the show. Hasn’t fought anywhere since his stint on TUF4.
UFC record 3-3 (0-1 since show)
Along with Matt Serra, it was Mr. International’s antics which kept fans entertained throughout TUF4, and after Carter decisioned Rich Clementi, his rematch with ‘The Terror’ was one of the most highly-anticipated fights in TUF history. Serra would get his revenge over Carter via unanimous decision, and Shonie would lose his next UFC fight in December of 2006 via decision to Marcus Davis. Carter hasn’t returned to the UFC, but as expected, he’s been staying busy, going 5-2 in his last seven bouts.
UFC record 0-3
Winner of a bloody battle with Gideon Ray on the show, Dewees fell short in the semifinals against Patrick Cote and was subsequently stopped in the first round by Jorge Rivera on the season finale card. A seasoned vet who bounced back after just one fight in 2007 to fight three times already this year, Dewees is nonetheless 1-3 in his four bouts since the show ended.
UFC record 0-2
Best remembered by fight fans for his trilogy with Nick Diaz (with the rubber match taking place at UFC 44), Jackson returned to the UFC courtesy of The Ultimate Fighter, but wound up getting booted from the show due to his insistence on jumping the fence of the house to meet with a female friend. Jackson was brought back for the finale, but submitted in his bout against Pete Spratt due to a neck injury. Has fought only once since, winning via TKO in a non-UFC show in March of 2007.
UFC record 2-4 (0-2 since show)
Became a pariah of sorts after he won the middleweight division of TUF4 and then failed to make weight for his title fight against Anderson Silva. Fought well in what turned out to be a non-title fight at UFC 67 and had the champ in trouble briefly before being submitted in the second round. Returned 14 months later to face Rich Franklin at UFC 83 earlier this year, and again he fought well before gassing out and getting stopped in the second round. Has all the tools to give anyone at 185 pounds a tough time, but he may have to win outside of the UFC to earn a trip back.
UFC record 0-3
A UFC hard-luck story who saw his first pre-TUF bout in the Octagon against David Loiseau in 2005 stopped on a cut, while his second UFC bout ended in just 22 seconds when he was blitzed by Mike Swick. The show should have been his chance to rebound, but losses to Edwin Dewees and then Charles McCarthy put his UFC career on hold. Has only managed two wins in his subsequent six fights.
UFC record 1-3 (0-2 since show)
After losing his UFC debut to David Terrell in 2006, Smith was brought back for TUF4. He was submitted in his lone fight in the house by Travis Lutter, but at the finale he scored one of the great knockouts in UFC history when he rebounded from a hellacious body shot thrown by Pete Sell to land a haymaker that floored and finished ‘Drago’ seconds later. Unfortunately, his next two UFC fights weren’t nearly as explosive as he dropped a decision to Patrick Cote and was submitted by Ed Herman. In post-UFC action, Smith has gone 2-1 with 1 no contest.
UFC record 3-4 (0-2 since show)
‘The Secret Weapon’ had a nice little UFC run in 2002-2003, going 2-1 with wins over Zach Light and Robbie Lawler, but after the Lawler fight he managed just a 2-3 record that included a UFC loss to Josh Koscheck. Sure, non-UFC defeats to Georges St-Pierre and Chris Lytle are nothing to be ashamed of, but the bottom line is that Spratt was the perfect candidate for TUF’s comeback show. Lost his first fight on the show Chris Lytle, but was brought back after Jeremy Jackson was ousted and went on to lose to Matt Serra. Submitted Jackson on the finale card, but lost two subsequent UFC fights to Marcus Davis and Tamdan McCrory. 3-3 outside of the UFC since losing to McCrory in June of 2007.
UFC record 5-4 (2-2 since show)
One of the show’s early favorites, the talented Thomas submitted Mikey Burnett in his first bout, only to get outpointed by Chris Lytle in the semis. Dropped back to lightweight for the TUF4 finale, submitted Rich Clementi and then scored consecutive wins over young guns Clay Guida and Jeremy Stephens. Hit the wall in his next two fights, losing to Kenny Florian and Josh Neer. Thomas has been inactive since April, but considering he’s still in his early 30’s, will probably be heard from again if he can put a few wins together.
UFC record 1-2 (0-1 since show)
‘Chainshaw’ Charles never really got the chance to get any momentum going after his TUF4 finale win over Gideon Ray due to a torn ACL which kept him out of action for over a year. He returned to the Octagon at UFC 83 in April, and while he had his moments against TUF3 winner Michael Bisping, he was eventually stopped at the end of the round due to an arm injury. He retired as an active fighter shortly after the bout, but is still involved with the sport as an owner of an MMA school in Florida where he is training the next generation of fighters.
Two Years Later - The Ultimate Fighter 4 Report
Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - The Ultimate Fighter series has been the launching pad for some of the game’s rising stars, from Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, and Michael Bisping, to recent winners Nate Diaz and Amir Sadollah. But in season four, which premiered in August of 2006, the format of the show changed, as 16 UFC veterans were brought in for one last chance at glory.