In 2005, the UFC took over Spike TV and aired the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. This reality series pitted several MMA fighters against each other in a series of bouts. Those that won would continue moving on until they reached the finale. The winners of the two finale fights would receive contracts with the UFC and a guaranteed number of events in the promotion.
The Ultimate Fighter has enjoyed several seasons and made many fighters household names around the world. Not all of these champions have gone on and enjoyed long careers in the UFC, but several have won championships and ended their careers as members of the UFC Hall of Fame. One of the oldest competitors is still fighting. Here's what some of the biggest names are up to years after winning their respective seasons.
The winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 5, Nate Diaz has put together a strong career inside the octagon. He has taken part in 32 bouts, winning 20, while knocking out five of his opponents. Diaz has remained in the octagon ever since, with the exception of a two-year layoff from 2016-2018. Diaz's most recent bout was a loss to Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244 when the two men fought for Dwayne Johnson's "BMF" championship belt.prevnext
One of 16 competitors on The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights, Roy Nelson secured the season victory and landed a contract with the UFC. Big Country then went on and became one of the promotion's biggest stars. He secured a 39-second knockout in his first fight and then became the first person to take Junior Dos Santos to decision — although he lost. Nelson remained with UFC from 2010 until 2017 when his contract expired. He has since signed a contract with Bellator MMA and compiled a record of 1-5.prevnext
Tony Ferguson made headlines during The Ultimate Fighter: Team Lesnar vs. Team dos Santos by defeating Ramsey Nijem by knockout in the finale. This 2010 bout kicked off a career in the UFC in which he compiled a 13-2 professional record. These fights took his overall MMA record to 26-4. Ferguson most recently faced off with Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 with the goal of securing the interim lightweight belt. However, Ferguson lost while Gaethje set up a championship bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov.prevnext
John Dodson, the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 14, defeated TJ Dillashaw in the finale by first-round TKO and started what has been a nine-year stint with the promotion. The 36-year-old compiled a 10-7 record in the UFC while earning Fight of the Night honors once and Knockout of the Night twice. Dodson signed a five-fight deal with the UFC in June 2020, but the promotion released him in mid-September.prevnext
The winner of The Ultimate Fighter 3, Michael Bisping became one of the UFC's biggest names during his career. He compiled an overall MMA record of 30-9 while defeating such names as Dan Henderson, Jason Miller and Anderson Silva. He also served as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter two separate times. Following his retirement in May 2018, Bisping was enshrined in the UFC Hall of Fame in the modern-era wing. He has since turned his attention to acting and television. He appeared in XXX: Return of Xander Cage, 2017's Twin Peaks and Den of Thieves. Bisping also served as one of four hosts on Netflix's Hyperdrive.prevnext
Rashad Evans entered The Ultimate Fighter 2 as an underdog due to being the smallest heavyweight on the show, but he fought his way to the finals and secured the victory over Brad Imes. Evans landed a three-year contract with the UFC and dropped to light heavyweight. He found early success in the promotion by defeating Bisping, but he became a household name by knocking out Chuck Liddell on UFC 88. Following a long career in which he became light heavyweight champion, defeated some of the promotion's biggest names and coached on The Ultimate Fighter, Evans announced his retirement on June 25, 2018. The UFC later enshrined him in the Hall of Fame.prevnext
The winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, Diego Sanchez is one of the most-tenured fighters in the UFC. He has an overall MMA record of 31-13 and has drawn attention for defeating Paulo Thiago, Clay Guida and Nick Diaz. The 38-year-old is still active in the promotion and recently faced off with Jake Matthews during Saturday's UFC 253. He lost by unanimous decision.prevnext
Like Sanchez, Forrest Griffin won The Ultimate Fighter's first season, albeit in a different weight class. He defeated Stephan Bonnar and started a long career in which he became one of the sport's most important fighters. He faced off with Shogan Rua and Keith Jardine before returning to The Ultimate Fighter as a coach and setting up a championship bout with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. Griffin secured the victory and the belt but later lost his title to Evans. Despite dealing with injuries throughout his career, Griffin continued fighting such names as Tito Ortiz, Rich Franklin and Anderson Silva. He ultimately retired in 2013 prior to being enshrined in the UFC Hall of Fame.prev