TUF Champions The MMA Corner Staff October 7, 2020 News It is no surprise that most of the products of The Ultimate Fighter are usually favorites on their cards, and with the oddsmakers, as the aura of TUF 1 lives on. 28 seasons, 18 years, and a legacy of greatness has produced some of the most talented and fan favorites in UFC history, but more than that, it has given the world of MMA and the UFC, some of its most unexpected champions. Starting out as a last ditch move to save the freefalling UFC back in the early 2000s, TUF went on to become the saviour of the UFC on the strength of the iconic Griffin vs. Bonnar, and early star names like Randy Couture and Chuck Lidell. Names like Betway were barely out of the starting blocks yet, whether UFC under the Fertitta brothers and Dana White, was a dwindling organisation that picked up steam after going live with TUF of FS1. About those Champions… Credit: Betway Michael Bisping, TJ Dillishaw, Nate Diaz, and Sean O’Malley, are just a few of the products from TUF, not all of them champions, but all sure future Hall of famers. To the exception of O’Malley, Diaz, Bisping, and Dillishaw have won titles and have more than earned the greatness that is theirs today. For these “TUF champions“, conquering their various divisions validated the TUF as a talent recruitment programme, while adding to the shine of the champions. TJ Dillishaw Dillishaw showed glimpses of his skill in season 14 of TUF, but ultimately lost to Jon Dodson. That didn’t stop him from getting a contract and going on to tear his way through the bantamweight division. While sports books like Betway had him opening at +713, with Renan Barao riding a 32/matchbunbeaten streak into UFC 173, 9Dillishaw had other plans. Dropping Barao in as early as the first round, Dillishaw will ramp up his aggressiveness and attacks, with a resilient chpions clinging to pride until three minutes left in the fifth round. A kick and ground strikes finished off a shocked Barao and TJ Dillishaw became bantamweight champion. Matt Serra Another offshoot of TUF, Serra as the winner of season four, earning his way back into the UFC after a previously unsuccessful stint. Georges St. Pierre was a feared champion and had laid waste to the welterweight division, except for a rejuvenated Matt Serra. Betway and other oddsmakers had him at +550 to come out ontop but they greatly underestimated the heart of a man with a chip on his shoulder. UFC 69 rolled around and Serra, in high spirits did not look like an underdog as the bell rang. Going toe-too(toe with St. Pierre, Serra would finally clip the kchampion in what had been a cagy fight, in the fifth round, to win the welterweight belt. He would lose the rematch but not before costing the oddsmakers a nifty sum and silencing the crowd. Forrest Griffin One half of what even UFC President, Dana White, has called the greatest fight in UFC history, Griffin was a winner of TUF 1, defeating Stephan Bonnar, in what is widely considered as the foundation stone of whatever success the UFC boasts today. Griffin made his way into a light heavyweight division dominated by Quinton Jackson. The chp did not expect much of a resistance from Griffin at UFC 86, with Betway and other sportsbooks giving him only a 27% chance of winning at +265.Griffin would go on tol dominate the champion fro start to finish, winning his first ever UFC title by unanimous decision. Michael Bisping Nobody apart from Michael Bisping believed a word that was coming from hisouth, when he became a last minute replacement in the middleweight title match against Luke Rockhold at UFC 199. The pundits had written him off, and the sportsbooks did him no favors with a +525 against the champion. For Betway and other bookies, it was easy money, but not until the unexpected happened and Bisping ended the fight in the first round with a knockout. This is by no means the only champions to have come fronte TUF stable, but these are the ones that had it tough and had to do it against all odds. Kamaru Usman, Nicco Montano, Robert Whittaker, Tony Ferguson, are just a few more names amongst others that have made their way from TUF to the summit of the UFC. This culture of champions and winning is what has made TUF succesful and continue to contributes to the rise of the UFC as a whole. Since the success of TUF 1, the show became a yardstick for theeasure of talent quality in the UFC. It is no coincidence that six Hall of Famers have risen through the ranks in similar fashion from TUF to the UFC, with promise of more to follow suite. TUF champions may not be Fords, built if anything, they are built tough.