Not everybody can win a tournament, and for Colin Fletcher and Mike Ricci that was a tough lesson to learn.

Fletcher and Ricci lost their respective stints on The Ultimate Fighter in the very final bout. The two fighters had a great pre-UFC career, with Fletcher going in 8-1 and Ricci going 7-2 before taking part on TUF. Now, they meet at UFC 158 this weekend in a fight that could be the start of something big.

Fletcher and Ricci didn’t have impressive fights in the finals. Both had trouble on the ground for the majority of their fights.

The loss for TUF Smashes participant Fletcher came after allowing takedown after takedown by opponent Norman Parke. For the first two rounds, it didn’t seem like he was going to offer much in that fight. The third round came and Fletcher tried to go for the finish. He got the better of Parke on the feet to steal the round. However, it wasn’t enough to spare “Freakshow” a decision loss.

For Ricci, the entire fight was just abysmal, to put it nicely. Ricci had a tremendous amount of hype coming off such an impressive stint on TUF 16. Then came his fight with Colton Smith in the finals, and everything just fell apart. For the entire 15-minutes, Ricci just couldn’t put together any sort of offense and repeatedly had to fight off Smith, who took his back and worked for chokes for a majority of the fight. Ricci’s brightest spot came in the last minute when he was able to reverse position on Smith and attempt to submit him, but at that point it was all for naught, with both fighters at the point of exhaustion. And so Ricci fell on the scorecards via a unanimous verdict as well.

Not many TUF fighters make a huge amount of noise in their respective divisions. Based on their last fights, it doesn’t look like either Ricci or Fletcher will make their way to top-contender status. Both fighters are lightweights, and the division is stacked from head-to-toe with guys who are great grapplers, which, based on their last fights, would be a huge problem for these two.

One of these guys may also be cut following their fight this weekend at UFC 158 and may not get that chance to blaze a path to the top, but either one of these guys could be a good middle-of-the-road guy at lightweight.

Both fighters have great potential. Fletcher certainly has the reach—a whopping 81 inches—that makes his striking great for the lightweight division, and if he continues to grow in all areas, he could be a dangerous obstacle for anybody trying to break into the upper echelon of the division. Ricci showed a tremendous amount of potential coming off of TUF 16 and closed the end of the season with a devastating elbow knockout. Ricci—much like Fletcher—has some great striking that is good for a mid-tier fighter in the division. He utilizes every strike well, and if he can improve on his takedown defense and evolve his grappling skills, he can likewise be a dangerous gatekeeper in the division.

It’s always tough to judge fighters from TUF after one fight in the UFC due to “Octagon jitters” and just the overall fact that they are fighting in the big time now for a big contract and a dream come true. Neither of these guys impressed during their final fights, but both certainly possess the potential and the striking to at least become a top-25 fighter at lightweight.

Ricci and Fletcher were chosen for TUF for a reason. Both guys did show glimpses that proved they could be great, but based off of the TUF final fights, they have a little way to go.

Photo: Colin Fletcher (David Lethaby/Sherdog)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.