The new season of The Ultimate Fighter begins this Friday. For the 16th season, the show returns to the familiar taped format that allows them to focus on more drama. But if you are like me, you are more interested in the fights.
This season will feature two heavyweight coaches. Roy Nelson, a fighter who made it into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter tournament, will match his coaching chops with former interim champion Shane Carwin. While the coaches are heavyweights, the contestants are competing at welterweight. Last time out, we looked at the shows favorites. This time, we will look at the rest of the cast. For labeling purposes, I have identified them as the underdogs. Let’s meet the fighters.
Coleman trains out of the HIT Squad with Matt Hughes. Throughout his career, he has faced solid competition including castmate George Lockhart (W), Lucas Lopes (W), and Douglas Lima (L). The Strikeforce veteran is well-rounded and has collected three victories each by knockout and submission.
Coleman almost made The Favorites list. However, he is just 1-2 since the start of 2011 and his lone victory was against an opponent with a losing record. He needs to prove he can compete against strong competition again.
Kuntz is another fighter who was on the verge of making The Favorites list. He hasn’t lost since 2009 and is on a current 12-fight unbeaten streak. He is a well-rounded finisher who has six KO victories and four submission wins. His strength is his wrestling, and he uses that to set up his ground-and-pound and submission game.
While Kuntz looks to be a solid fighter and serious threat, I worry about his wrestling. He relies heavily on it and was a high school star. However, he did not compete at the collegiate level. While his skills may be good enough to have done so, it is hard to evaluate someone who was the big fish in a small pond of high school athletics but didn’t test themselves at the much more competitive levels higher up.
Michaud was a college wrestler at South Dakota State University. He has faced solid regional competition and still managed to stop every opponent. Michaud has collected three knockouts and one submission win.
The concern about Michaud is obvious. His lack of experience places him as an underdog, but he could easily find himself in the house with the right opening match-up.
While a couple of fighters on The Favorites list have a military background, Magny is the first on this list. He is an Army veteran who trains out of Torres MMA with former bantamweight star Miguel Torres. He stopped four of his opponents—two by KO and two via submission. Magny handed six opponents, including castmate Kevin Nowaczyk, their first career loss.
The concern is that five of those opponents were either debuting or only 1-0. Magny will need to do it more consistently against better opposition if he is to reach his dreams of winning the show.
Nowaczyk may possess the worst nickname in all of MMA. “Give Me Your Lunch Money” just doesn’t roll off the tongue and sounds completely ridiculous, but don’t let the name distract you too much. Nowaczyk has racked up seven submission victories in his career. He also has a decision win over Chuck O’Neil as well as a loss to TUF alum Kris McCray and castmate Neil Magny.
Nowaczyk may be able to make some noise early on the show. However, he doesn’t have the credentials of the other ground specialists on the series.
Waters has stopped his opponent in every fight he has won. He has three knockouts and a submission victory. However, those knockouts generally come on the ground. Waters is a Junior College wrestler that specializes in ground-and-pound. He is also a former Marine.
If Waters had a little more experience, he may have found himself on The Favorite’s list, but at this point in his career he has to prove that he can beat some of the more experienced guys on the show.
Chaney is a Tachi Palace Fights veteran. He fought Ron Keslar earlier in his career. He is currently on a three-fight winning streak. Chaney trains out of Goon Squad.
Chaney tends to beat less experienced guys and loss to those that have more experience than him. The best guy he has beaten had a 5-2 record. While there are plenty of guys less experienced than Chaney on the show, there are also a lot more that are more experienced than him. He will have to buck the trend if he wants to get far in the competition.
Bautista is a MFC and Bellator veteran. His most notable opponent was Ryan McGillivary (L). He has notched three submission victories and two knockout wins.
The concern for Bautista is the competition he has faced. He has never defeated an opponent with a winning record.
Clark came out of the gate on fire. He won his first five fights before losing his last time out. Clark has stopped four of his opponents, three of them via submission. The concern for Clark is that he has not competed in over a year. You have to question if he will have ring rust when he does return in the most important fight of his short career.
Smith is the final fighter with a military background on this list. He was a Staff Sargent in the Army. While as a professional all of his victories were against debuting fighters, Smith did go 5-1 as an amateur.
He is another fighter that relies on his wrestling. He began wrestling at the age of four before branching out into other forms of martial arts later in life.
Griffin started his career on a four-fight winning streak with three knockout victories. His lone loss was to a fighter who was 9-2 going into the fight, and it was a split decision. Griffin holds a first-round knockout victory over Bellator veteran Jaime Jara. However, all of his other victories have been over less than stellar competition with a combined record of just 1-6.
Lane has stopped every opponent he has faced as a professional. He has earned three submission victories and a KO win. He also notched three of those wins in the first round. The Bellator veteran spent a long time as an amateur where he compiled a 7-6 record. Besides Lane’s inexperience, the other concern is that he has primarily competed at lightweight throughout his career.
Hill trains at Toshido Fighting Arts and has competed in the Aggression MMA and Battlefield Fight League promotions. He has gone undefeated while picking up two knockouts in his four pro fights.
He is explosive and athletic. The opponents he has faced have a combined record of 7-12-1 going into the fight. The only opponent he faced with a winning record was just 1-0-1.
South Glens Falls, N.Y.
At just a 1-1 record, Secor is the least experienced fighter on the show. Yet, he is also a Bellator veteran. He lost to Nordine Taleb. Secor is a purple belt in BJJ and his lone MMA victory is via submission. The obvious concern about Secor is his experience level.
Las Vegas, Nev.
Magen has collected three stoppages in his four-fight career. He has earned two knockouts and a submission. Magen has a strong ground-and-pound game.
The concerns for Magen are twofold. First, he normally competes at lightweight so he will be outsized at some point. Also, the four fighters he has beat have a combined record of 2-2—two of the fighters were debuting and haven’t fought since and the other two were just 1-1 at the time of the fight.
Manley trains out of Team Link with UFC veterans Gabriel Gonzaga and Ricardo Funch. He has faced decent regional competition. Manley has collected three submission wins in his career.
However, he hasn’t finished a fight since 2008.
Catch all of these competitors on the new season of The Ultimate Fighter, which debuts on Friday, Sept. 14, at 9 p.m. ET on FX.
Photo: The cast of “The Ultimate Fighter 16″ (MMAJunkie.com)