Currently in its 28th season, The Ultimate Fighter is a reality TV series where 16 mixed martial artists fighters compete in a knockout-style tournament where the winner is granted a contract with the UFC.
While many previous contestants such as Travis Lutter and Colton Smith were unable to take full advantage of their time on the show, and consequently had short-lived UFC careers, there are a number of former contestants who went on to win UFC championships, forever sealing their place in UFC history.
Let's take a look at some of the most successful past Ultimate Fighter contestants who went on to make a name for themselves in the octagon.
10. Forrest Griffin
Griffin won the inaugural season of the show, defeating Stephan Bonnar in the show finale by unanimous decision. He then went on to defeat Quinton Jackson to claim the UFC Light Heavyweight Title at UFC 86, and was also awarded UFC Fight Of The Night five times in his career, which is a testament to him being one of the most entertaining fighters in the sport.
Although he retired back in 2012, Griffin secured his UFC legacy by being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame on July 6, 2013. He retired with a record of 19-7-0.
9. Rashad Evans
A heavyweight fighter, Evans won season 2 of the show, narrowly defeating Brad Imes by means of a split decision. Interestingly enough, Evans won the UFC Light Heavyweight Title in December 2008 by defeating Griffin (mentioned above) at UFC 92 by knocking him out in round 3.
Unfortunately, Evans' title reign was short-lived, as he lost his next match against Luyoto Machida in May 2009.
Whilst this was the only title that he held until his retirement earlier this year, he certainly showed his worth by maintaining a fighting record of a colossal 24 wins with only 8 losses and 1 draw.
8. Carla "Cookie Monster" Esparza
Esparza won season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter by defeating Rose Namajunas by means of a rear naked choke submission in the Women's Strawweight Final.
Season 20 of Ultimate Fighter had added significance, however, as the winner of the finale would not only earn the regular prize of a UFC contract, but would also become the inaugural UFC Women's Strawweight Champion, a title for a division that would be formed at the completion of the tournament.
Although Esparza was another Ultimate Fighter contestant whose title reign was short-lived, she is still an active member in the Women's Strawweight Division, currently ranked eighth with 13 wins and 6 losses.
7. Rose Namajunas
While runner-up to Carla Esparza in the Ultimate Fighter season 20, Namajunas has overtaken Esparza in the Women's Strawweight Division as of late.
She is the current Women's Strawweight Champion, and won the title by defeating Joanna Jedrzejczyk by means of knockout in round 1 of UFC 217. Not only that, but she has won her last three matches in the UFC, successfully retaining her title in a rematch against Jedrzejczyk. This shows that since her debut loss to Esparza, she has been at the top of her game, securing an impressive record of 9-3-0.
6. Tony Ferguson
Winner of Ultimate Fighter season 13, Ferguson is one of the most formidable fighters to ever grace the octagon. The fact that Ferguson has only won one interim Lightweight Title (which he was stripped of due to injury) is difficult to believe, considering his unbelievable record.
Ferguson has a massive 26 wins under his belt, with only three losses. Furthermore, he has had a win streak of 11 matches dating all the way back to May 2012.
As the number one ranked contender, fans could expect Ferguson to launch a title challenge against undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, which would undoubtedly be a fight of epic proportions.
5. Michael Bisping
The winner of season 3, Bisping had an incredible record in the octagon, winning 22 matches and losing only 3 in the middleweight division.
Apart from winning the UFC Middleweight Title, Bisping has achieved a long list of UFC accomplishments, including having the most UFC appearances at the time of his retirement, the most UFC middleweight fights in the division's history, the most countries where any fighter has headlined a UFC event, being the only fighter in UFC history to headline two events in one month, and he is currently tied in first place for the most wins in UFC history.
This legendary fighter retired earlier in 2018 and is now a UFC analyst for FOX Sports, where he continues to share his expert knowledge on the sport.
4. Nicco Montano
Montano defeated Roxanne Modafferi through unanimous decision to win The Ultimate Fighter Season 26, and consequently became the inaugural UFC Women's Flyweight Champion. She currently has a 4-2 record in the octagon, which is respectable for a newbie to the UFC.
Unfortunately, Montano has found herself in troubled waters as of late, as she was recently stripped of her title due to failing to make the weigh-in for her title defense against Valentina Shevckenko at UFC 228. This absence was a result of Montano being sent to hospital due to kidney issues related to her weight loss.
Unfortunately, this was only one of several health issues that Montano has suffered as of late; she previously suffered a foot injury and had her tonsils removed early on in 2018.
This won't be the last we see of Montano, however. UFC President Dana White explained, “So, the title is vacated. Obviously, Shevchenko is dying to fight for this title. So we’re in the process right now of trying to make another fight.” Montano will do whatever it takes to make it onto the next UFC card in order to retake her title.
3. TJ Dillashaw
Although Dillashaw came runner-up to John Dodson in season 14, he has far surpassed most winners of the show in his UFC career.
Not only has Dillashaw proven his talent within the octagon, but he has also shown that he is an effective coach, appearing as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter Season 25, where his team members won all of the semi-final spots in the tournament.
2. Julianna Pena
Pena won Season 18 of the show, defeating Jessica Rakoczy by TKO in the first round of the Women's Bantamweight final.
Clearly looking to maintain this perfect start to her UFC career, Pena won a total of four consecutive UFC bouts before suffering her first UFC defeat to Valentina Shevchenko at the beginning of 2017.
Despite her first UFC loss, she is still the fourth-ranked fighter in the Women's Bantamweight division with an impressive overall record of 9 career wins and 3 losses. Although she took time off after becoming a mother, Pena has hinted at a return to the octagon, as she will look to get another opportunity at winning the Bantamweight title.
1. Tatiana Suarez
Suarez's story is inspirational. Having started wrestling at the age of 3, Suarez was close to competing in the Olympics in 2011 when she received the devastating news that she had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Fortunately, Suarez started healing, and although her wrestling career seemed to be at an end, she decided to enter the world of MMA, where she eventually went on to compete in and win Season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter.
Not only did she recover from such a low point of her life, but she actually started to develop herself into an outstanding athlete. She is now a dominant force in the UFC, known for her aggressive fighting style where she brutally takes out her opponents, showing no mercy.
Suarez is the current UFC Women's Strawweight Champion, and remains undefeated in her UFC career, with her fighting record standing at 7-0. Suarez is certainly one of the most exciting prospects in the UFC, and with her recent KO victory over Esparza at UFC 228, she shows no signs of slowing down.