The Ultimate Fighter Has Long Been a Gateway to the UFC for Many Hopeful Fighters… But Some Athletes Have Managed to Carve Out Successful Careers in the UFC Despite Losing on the Show…
We all know and (used to) love the Ultimate Fighter. While it’s basically been replaced by Dana White’s Contender Series as a fresh way to find new talent, TUF has been around for an incredible 28 seasons and given so many great fighters their big break.
Of course, some seasons have been stronger than others. While technically only the champion is guaranteed a contract, the reality is that if you get to the semi-finals you have a good shot at getting a deal with the UFC. Some fighters who lost on TUF have gone on and achieved more in the UFC than the actual winners.
Let’s look at the ten most successful UFC fighters who failed to win their season of TUF but still went on to carve out superb careers at the very top of MMA’s biggest promotion or gone on to great things after retiring from MMA. Special shoutout to the GOAT Artem Lobov. He’s not on this list because he’s too obvious.
10. Paulo Costa
One of the scariest hitters the middleweight has seen in a long time, there’s a good reason why the California State Athletic Commission has banned Paulo Costa from fighting at 185lbs again. He’s just too big. The Brazilian is a terrifying beast of a man but it may be surprising to learn that he didn’t actually win his season of the Ultimate Fighter Brazil.
He was eliminated in the third season of TUF Brazil, back when he had dodgy blonde highlights in his hair. Technically he’s unbeaten as a professional though because the TUF Brazil fights count as exhibition matches. So that’s a record of 13-0 with 11 knockouts. His most recent victory was his biggest yet, a decision over the terrifying Yoel Romero.