Ultimate TUF Rankings: Welterweights

| August 4, 2014 | 2 Comments

As TUF 19 comes to a close, we’re left with a general rumbling among fight fans concerning a formula that’s lost a bit of its potency over time. With Dana White declaring this season the “worst ever”, I’m left wondering, who’s to blame? Is it the fighters trying desperately to get that contract and playing a safe game, or is it the fact that the UFC has gone to the regional talent wells for years in search of hidden gems?

Anyone that follows my writing knows I hate rankings, but I felt compelled to complete a project here; charting every fighter ever produced by TUF. I started with Welterweight because it’s been the predominant weight class within MMA, with a gradual shift towards lightweight only in the last couple of years. The show has also produced more welterweights than any other weight class despite the season’s individual objectives. This is true of TUF 1 right up to this last season of TUF, whose eight Middleweight slots were ultimately filled by five Welterweights fighting a weight class above.

By ranking and examining the talent produced, we can see if the show has tapped itself out in terms of finding fighters not currently contracted to another organization, or if the fight format itself has resulted in the unappealing displays on our television screen.

Before we get into the raw data, keep a few things in mind.

1. I ranked all the fighters present based on their overall abilities, not on any kind of pre-existing ranking system, as a way of gauging actual combative prowess. A fighter is ranked above anyone I feel they beat more than 50% of the time. It’s impossible to have a true linear list in this fashion and you will see anomalies, but I did the best I could to accurately rank the fighters according to those guidelines.

2. You might notice I’ve ranked some fighters higher than those that have beaten them previously. I did this because I’m basing this off of peak talent for older fighters and potential talent for newer ones. Some fighters met when one was in their prime and the other new, or after they were at the tail end of their career and the other surging upwards. As such, the ranking depicts anyone at their best possible incarnation.

3. I consider anyone whose bulk of their work or their peak years at Welterweight to be in that weight class. That means some fighters like Diego Sanchez are listed, while guys like Mac Danzig and Nate Diaz are not. Again

4. I’ve created a power rank based on an inverse number to the ranking to grade the seasons. Therefore the last place fighter is worth 1 point, while the best fighter is worth 91 points. Using that number, we can determine averages and the get a general view of what season produced the best talent.

5. With the exception of the last season, I’ve only included fighters who had at least one bout after TUF, thereby having been “created” by the show as a fighter. As such, I have ignored TUF 4, as all Welterweights were already under contract and established within the MMA world.

The Rankings:

1 Josh Koscheck                         S 1
2 Sergio Moraes                         S Brazil
3 Diego Sanchez                         S 1
4 Josh Burkman                         S 2
5 Paul Bradley                             S 7
6 Seth Baczynski                         S 11
7 Matt Brown                              S 7
8 Kelvin Gastelum                      S 17
9 Yan Cabral                                S Brazil 2
10 Robert Whittaker                  S UK vs Aus
11 Mike Swick                              S 1
12 Nick Osipczack                      S US vs UK
13 Ben Saunders                         S 6
14 Matt Riddle                             S 7
15 William Macario                    S Brazil 2
16 Igor Araujo                             S 16
17 Leonardo Texeira                  S Brazil
18 Neil Magny                             S 16
19 Santiago Pozinibbio             S Brazil 2
20 Chad Laprise                         S Can vs Aus
21 Dheigo Lima                           S 19
22 James Wilks                           S US vs UK
23 Charles Blanchard                S 11
24 War Machine                         S 6
25 Amir Sadollah                        S 7
26 DaMarques Johnson            S US vs UK
27 Justin Edwards                      S 13
28 Eddy Ellis                                S 16
29 Ben Alloway                            S UK vs Aus
30 Olivier Aubin-Mercier          S Can vs Aus
31 Viscardi Andrade                   S Brazil 2
32 Kris McCray                            S 11
33 Chuck O’Neil                          S 13
34 Manny Rodriguez                 S UK vs Aus
35 Zhang Lipeng                         S China
36 Matt Arroyo                            S 6
37 Marcus Davis                         S 2
38 Thiago Santos                       S Brazil 2
39 Ian Stephens                         S 19
40 Chris Cope                             S 13
41 Jamie Yager                            S 11
42 Delson Helendo                    S Brazil
43 Jon Manley                            S 16
44 Cathal Pendred                     S 19
45 Clay Harvison                        S 13
46 Shamar Bailey                       S 13
47 Cameron Diffley                    S 16
48 Ryan McGillivray                  S 13
49 Jake Matthews                      S Can vs Aus
50 Nordine Taleb                       S Can vs Aus
51 James Chaney                        S 16
52 Aaron Wilkinson                   S 12
53 Joey Rivera                             S 16
54 Gilbert Smith                         S 17
55 Bola Omoyele                         S UK vs Aus
56 Hector Urbina                        S 19
57 Roman Mitichyan                  S 6
58 Vik Grujic                                S Can vs Aus
59 Anying Wang                          S China
60 Nic Herron-Webb                 S 16
61 Richard Walsh                        S Can vs Aus
62 Dom Waters                           S 16
63 Roger Zapata                          S 19
64 Tom Speer                              S 6
65 Thiago Goncalves                  S Brazil 2
66 Mark Miller                            S US vs UK
67 Luiz Dutra Jr.                         S Brazil 2
68 Chris Indich                           S Can vs Aus
69 Dean Amasinger                    S US vs UK
70 Matt Secor                              S 16
71 Wang Sai                                  S China
72 Troy Mandaloniz                   S 6
73 Sam Morgan                           S 2
74 Luke Cummo                          S 2
75 Frank Lester                           S US vs UK
76 Charlie Rader                         S 13
77 Keon Caldwell                        S 13
78 Dorian Price                           S 6
79 Nordin Asrih                          S 13
80 Michael Hill                           S 16
81 Mike Dolce                              S 7
82 Brendon Melendez                S 5
83 Dan Barrera                            S 6
84 Javier Torres                          S 13
85 Anthony Torres                      S 2
86 Richie Hightower                  S 6
87 Josh Rafferty                          S 1
88 Jason Von Flue                      S 2
89 John Kolosci                           S 6
90 Marlon Sims                           S 5
91 Blake Bowman                        S 6
Season         Welters    Score  Average   Highest Seed Lowest Seed
S 1                    4             266      66.5          1                        87
S 2                   6              191       31.8         4                        88
S 5                   2               12          6            82                      90
S 6                   11             319      29            13                       91
S 7                    5             328      65.6           5                      81
S US vs UK    6              282      47            12                       75
S 11                  4              266      66.5          6                       41
S 12                  1               40       40            52                      52
S 13                  10            365      36.5        27                      84
S Brazil            3             215       71.7          2                       42
S 16                  11            420      38.2         16                      80
S UK vs Aus    4             240      60           10                      55
S 17                   2             122       61            8                       54
S Brazil 2         7             400      57.1         9                       67
S China            3             111        37           35                      71
S Can vs Aus   7             308     44            20                     68
S 19                   5             237      47.4        21                      63

 

There’s a lot of data here, but we can make out a pattern for sure. The strongest casts have come from every “first” within the series: First season, First open casting (season 7), and First Brazil show. This shows that the best results for TUF have come from tapping fresh talent pools. US vs UK ranks unreasonably low due to the cast being watered down by the American side of the show. China was a bust, but their country is underdeveloped in terms of MMA.

The early ebb in quality in the first six seasons could be traced back to their fighter selection, being primarily done via video entries and coach recommendations. This explains many of the horrendous washouts and was likely the reason for the institution of elimination rounds and open casting calls that started on season 7 and immediately boosted the quality of the competitors.

Even still, we see a significant drop in quality from season to season as markets are plundered of newer talent.

I think this speaks volumes to TUF having worn out its welcome in a sense, with the show’s next three seasons, Females, Latin America, and Japan, showing the willingness to adapt and work new areas and less bountiful weight classes. In doing so, we could well see the quality of the show increase over the next few seasons and a potential revival of world-class talent pulled from the murky depths of the regional circuits.

 

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  1. Dan Bonnell says:

    Great indepth article! Very interesting and well Timed. Lauzon has been vocal about his season being the best season of TUF ever.
    I have to agree.

    • Mike Hammersmith says:

      I’ll be putting up my Lightweight list in the near future, but it’s hard to argue with the merits of that season. Nearly every person had a great career in the UFC and most are still fighting.

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