2011 has been a mixed bag for verterans of the Ultiate Fighter reality show. In the past, many fighters from the show have found great success in the octagon. Rashad Evans and Forrest Griffin captured titles. Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck, Joe Stevenson and Gray Maynard have fought for titles. Many of the UFC’s biggest stars came from the Ultimate Fighter. 2011 has seen many of those fighters find some success.
Chris Leben has had a great run recently in the UFC and has emerged as a top 10 fighter. He notched a great knockout win over Wanderlei Silva in his last outing. Gray Maynard fought to a draw with UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and in October will fight for the title again. Rashad Evans has only fought once in 2011, but is poised to contend for the title. Michael Bisping snagged a coaching gig on the Ultimate Fighter season 14 opposite Jason Miller. Diego Sanchez has looked good back at 170. Melvin Guillard has had a great 2011. Kenny Florian is also lined up for a title shot, following a successful debut at featherweight. Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione have infused some life into the heavyweight division. There are other Ultimate Fighter veterans who have found success as well.
On the other side, 2011 has seen the decline and fall of many TUF stalwarts. Joe Stevenson continued to lose and has not been released by the UFC. Season 9 runner-up Andre Winner also has been cut after a skid. Season 3 winner Kendall Grove was also released following constant inconsistency. Season 10 winner, Roy Nelson is ona losing streak. Season 8 winner, Ryan Bader who was once a promising prospect has lost 2 in a row including an upset loss to Tito Ortiz. Matt Hamill lost two fights and has since retired. George Sotiroplous was once on the brink of a title shot, but now has lost two in a row. Season 7 winner Amir Sadollah is coming off of a loss to Duane Ludwig while season 7 runner-up C.B. Dollaway lost again. Injuries have also plagued many of the TUF veterans. Josh Koscheck, Mike Swick, Stephan Bonnar, James Wilkes, Mac Danzig, and Manny Gamburyan to name a few have all been battling injuries.
The moral of the story is that it appears that the Ultimate Fighter is starting to fail to produce top contenders. Since season 5 there are not even a handful of veterans of the reality show that would be ranked in the top 25 in thheir respective weight classes. Furthermore, if you look at the records of thhe guys coming off the show, the most successful TUF veterans have come from the first 5 seasons. Perhaps a guy like Brendan Schaub, Matt Mitrione or even Ryan Bader could change that. The sad part is that many of the veterans of the older seasons are on a career decline and many are likley past their prime.