The Ultimate Fighter reality series is making a move.  It is moving from Spike TV to FX, but that isn’t the only change.  The Ultimate Fighter used to be filmed over six weeks with the fights airing after the competitors were already home.  Not this year.  This year contestants will be in the house for 13 weeks and each week a fight will air live.

The action kicks off this Friday, March 9, at 9 p.m. ET.  The show promises to kick off with a ton of action as 16 fights are slated to air in the first episode, with the winners making it into the house.

We already looked at the favorites for this season.  This time, let’s meet some fighters who have a good chance of moving to Las Vegas for the next 13 weeks.

Likely to Make the House:

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Al Iaquinta
Wantagh, N.Y.
Record: 5-1-1
Twitter:@ALIAQUINTA
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Iaquinta is the latest Serra/Longo protégé to step up to the UFC.  He has a Junior College wrestling background, but he is a complete martial artist.  He smoothly mixes in wrestling, submission skills and a varied striking attack.  Before making his way into professional MMA, he went a remarkable 12-0 in amateur MMA.  Iaquinta is the former Ring of Combat lightweight champion.  His only loss came against UFC veteran Pat Audinwood.

Why he isn’t a favorite: Size.  Iaquinta is a small lightweight and may run into trouble against some of the larger fighters this season. At just 5-foot-7, Iaquinta makes even average-size lightweight fighters look big.  However, his skill can’t be questioned.  Skill-wise he is definitely a favorite, but he may be better suited for the featherweight division in the UFC.

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Chris Tickle
Bloomington, Ill.
Record: 7-4
Twitter:@badboytickle
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Tickle had a very slow start to his career.  At one point he sat at a 2-4 record.  But something flipped the switch and he has reeled off five straight victories.  His last two wins have been over UFC veterans Steve Berger and Brian Geraghty.  Tickle comes from a wrestling background and he was Miguel Torres’s training partner for Torres’ fight against Manny Tapia.

Why he isn’t a favorite: Submission defense.  Tickle has good skill with his wrestling and striking and has faced good competition in his young career.  However, all of his losses come from submission.  There are too many well-rounded fighters and even submission specialists in the cast for me to say he is a favorite.

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Dakota Cochrane
Omaha, Neb.
Record: 11-2
Twitter:@DakotaCochrane
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Perhaps the most talked about fighter heading into this season, and all for reasons outside the cage.  Cochrane has spent a lot of time training with UFC title contender Jake Ellenberger in the past.  Cochrane had a seven-fight winning streak stopped in his last fight.  During that seven-fight run, he collected a decision victory over former WEC champion Jamie Varner.  If Cochrane makes the house, expect some drama to center around his gay porn past.

Why he isn’t a favorite: Coming off a loss and a gut feeling.  The fact is Cochrane has done everything right.  He has faced good competition and fared well; he has trained with good people; and he has experience.  But he is coming off a loss and there are only so many people who I can consider a favorite, so Cochrane is the odd man out.

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Brendan Weafer
New York, N.Y.
Record: 6-3
Twitter:@BrendanWeafer
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Weafer has been competing professionally in MMA since 2005.  His relatively low number of fights is due to him also competing as a professional muay Thai fighter and fighting in Thailand.  Weifer was a Tae Kwon Do champion in his youth and competed in wrestling in high school, where he set a school record for wins.   He has spent time training with Phil Nurse and at Jackson’s in the past.  In MMA, he has a decision loss to Bellator veteran Rick Hawn.

Why he isn’t a favorite: Putting it all together.  Weafer has all the individual components to be great as a MMA fighter: he’s trained with great people, shown expertise in specific martial arts, and he is an athlete.  But he has lost to some folks he shouldn’t have.  He lost to Joshua Thorpe just three fights ago.  Thorpe is a fighter who has gone just 1-4 since that victory, so I have to question what is going on and whether Weafer can put it all together.

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Erin Beach
San Diego, Calif.
Record: 3-1
Twitter:@erinbeach619
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At first glance, Beach seems like an unlikely candidate to make it far this season.  He has only four fights in his MMA career, with his most recent and significant victory coming over Roscoe Jackson under the Bellator banner.  While Beach’s MMA record is light, he is more than just a record.  He holds an 11-1 boxing record.  In addition, he has spent time as a MMA instructor for the Team Nogueira branch in San Diego and trains out of Alliance Gym.  Standing at 6-foot-2, he should have a significant reach advantage over most of the other competitors.

Why he isn’t a favorite: Limited experience.  Beach has excellent credentials and looks like a monster on paper.  But he hasn’t done it in the cage against top-notch fighters.  Until he does, I can’t consider him a favorite.

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Jeremy Larsen
Phoenix, Ariz.
Record: 8-2 (1 NC)
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Larsen trains out of the Arizona Combat Sports with the Lally brothers.  The same camp produced other TUF stars such as Ryan Bader and CB Dollaway.  Larsen’s only losses came to UFC veterans Edgar Garcia and Efrain Escudero.

Why he isn’t a favorite: He’s a dark horse.  I don’t know much about him.  The competition he has faced that I have seen fight have defeated him.  But he comes from a good camp and has solid experience.

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Ali Maclean
Belfast, North Ireland
Record: 9-5-1
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Maclean was just 4-5-1 after 10 fights in his career, but has gone on a five-fight winning streak.  Surprisingly, he has ended his last four fights all with the north-south choke.  The Cage Warriors and BAMMA veteran started fighting at age 17.  He has a judo background and possesses surprisingly good wrestling for someone coming out of the UK.  He has also won several BJJ tournaments around the UK.

Why he isn’t a favorite: His slow start.  Maclean may have figured it all out, but to have a losing record after 10 fights is a red flag.  Also, while finishing his last four fights with north-south choke is impressive, it also concerns me a little.  While some fighters have found success with a go-to move, more often than not fighters struggle without a more rounded arsenal for finishes.

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Jared Carlsten
Los Angeles, Calif.
Record: 3-0
Twitter:@JaredCarlsten1
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Carlsten trains at 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu and is a brown belt under Eddie Bravo.  “Crazy Legz” was once said to have “the best rubber guard in MMA” by Bravo.  All three of his professional fights ended with a first-round submission.  He has only competed as a featherweight up to this point in his career, so he may be one of the smaller fighters in the house.

Why he isn’t a favorite: Size and experience.  With only three professional fights under his belt, Carlsten has limited experience at this young stage of his career.  However, he has shown a great deal of promise so far.  The other concern is that up until this point he has only competed at featherweight.  If he is matched against some of the bigger fighters in the house, especially those cutting down from welterweight, the size difference could have a major impact.

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Austin Lyons
Cordova, Tenn.
Record: 9-1
Twitter:@Austinleemma
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Lyons once tipped the scales at 250 pounds.  It is amazing that he is now fighting a lightweight.  The Empire Fighting champion went 11-2 as an amateur.  After losing in his professional debut, he has rattled off nine straight victories, seven of them by submission. He is considered one of the best lightweights in the southeast.

Why he isn’t a favorite: Lack of competition.  The competition he has faced is what you would expect a regional fighter to face.  Even his opponent in Bellator was just 2-0 at the time.  This will be a step up for him, but I think he can make some noise.

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Vinc Pichel
Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Record: 6-0
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Pichel trains out of Big John McCarthy’s Academy where he is an instructor.  He went 10-1 as an amateur and is now undefeated as a pro.  All of his professional fights have ended by knockout.  His last victory was over Dream and M-1 veteran David Gardner.

Why he isn’t a favorite: Limited experience and competition.  Pichel is trained by a man who has seen more MMA up close than just about anyone.  He possesses solid striking and wrestling, and he is looking to end fights early.  But he is still relatively inexperienced and hasn’t faced a lot of tough competition.  The best fighter, record-wise, he has ever faced was an opponent who stood at 2-0 at the time of the fight.

Photo: Dakota Cochrane (The Cage Inc.)

About The Author

Richard Wilcoxon
Staff Writer

An East Coast native, Richard Wilcoxon grew up a die hard fan of traditional team sports. In the early 1990's, he stumbled onto the sport of MMA and has been hooked ever since. He started writing about the sport on his Sporting News member blog in 2005 where he worked to spread his passion for the sport. He eventually became an official staff writer for Sporting News' "The Rumble" MMA/boxing blog before joining The MMA Corner.