The Ultimate Fighter has produced endless stars in the MMA world over the years. While there have been ups and downs in the star power of each season, no season has brought the heat quite like TUF 5.
With rare exception, every season saw its share of knockout artists, submission aces and well-rounded brawlers. In some cases, it’s apparent from the first fight who has what it takes; in others, it’s the guy you least suspect. And with more than one season seeing the last fighter picked making it into the finals, you learn not to count anybody out.
Plus, it’s no secret that even without winning TUF, if you put on enough of a show, your odds of making it to the Octagon full-time rise significantly.
Because of this philosophy, each season has made one hefty dent in the performance bonuses since the first batch of TUF fighters was turned loose.
If that’s the success rate of a season, the highest end of the curve is without question TUF 5.
Excluding the seasons from 11 on due to the far lower volume of fights under the belts of the later season’s contestants, season five has wildly exceeded every season in terms of UFC success. Of the fighters who made it into the UFC, nearly all of them have collected more than one performance bonus.
TUF 2: 33
TUF 3: 20
TUF 4: 19
TUF 5: 46
TUF 6: 12
TUF 7: 15
TUF 8: 11
TUF 9: 8
TUF 10: 10
Without the power of heavyweights or the speed of the flyweights, BJ Penn and Jens Pulver coached 16 lightweights into TUF and UFC history. With 46, yes, 46 performance bonuses to their credit it’s worth noting that Marlon Sims and Noah Thomas engaged in a backyard brawl that also might be somewhere inducted into the mythical streetfight hall of fame as well.
Call it fate, call it hyper focus during the recruitment process, call it the 155-pound division, but six members of TUF 5 have taken tens of thousands in bonuses. While six is an above average number for the season, the addition of Joe Lauzon and TUF 5 winner Nate Diaz to the season added an enormous spike to the bonus total.
Joe Lauzon: 15
Nate Diaz: 15
Cole Miller: 5
Matt Wiman: 5
Gray Maynard: 4
Rob Emerson: 2
With 15 performance bonuses each, Lauzon and Diaz boast as many or more of seasons 7-10’s case members combined.
The amount of UFC-ready talent that TUF 5 possessed showed at the end of almost every episode. Compound that with the fact that tempers ran hotter than almost any season before or after, and there were almost as many memorable moments in the 12 episodes of the show as there were when Lauzon, Diaz and company began their tear in the UFC.
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