After the inaugural season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ reality series became an instant television hit, Spike TV and the Ultimate Fighting Championship quickly rounded up another load of up-and-coming MMA fighters and filmed another season. The second season of ‘TUF’ featured heavyweights and welterweights, and notably did not feature the usual feud between coaches. Instead, the coaches were friends, one-time training partners, and both UFC title holders at the time: Rich Franklin and Matt Hughes. Let’s look at how the careers of the participants turned out since then. I will examine the heavyweight class first, and the welterweights next week.
All in all, the heavyweight edition of TUF has been a failed experiment. Of the ten fighters who participated, only two are still fighting in the UFC and both dropped down to 205 lbs, as did Mike Whitehead who has had an impressive win streak outside of the Octagon. None of the true heavyweights of the group enjoyed great success in MMA since the Season 2 finale.
Fighters are listed in order of their current Fightmatrix.com ranking, regardless of the weight class. Fights that took place in the live finale are counted in the ‘After’ column.
[#8 LHW] Keith Jardine
|Current Record: 13-4-1||Before: 8-1-1||On the show: 0-1||After: 5-3 UFC|
Though ‘The Dean of Mean’ lost a close decision to Rashad Evans in his only fight on the show, he earned a spot in the UFC after stopping Kerry Schall with leg kicks in the finale. Since then, Jardine dropped down to 205 lbs and gained a reputation of unpredictability, losing the fights he was favored to win and winning the ones he seemed certain to lose. Jardine earned his high ranking with an upset decision victory over former light-heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell. He also holds a knockout win over the recently crowned champion Forrest Griffin, and most recently suffered a brutal TKO loss at the hands of the former Pride FC middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva.
[#10 LHW] Rashad Evans
|Current Record: 11-0-1||Before: 5-0||On the show: 3-0||After: 6-0-1 UFC|
The winner of his group, Evans posted a perfect though uninspiring performance on the show, with decision wins over Keith Jardine, Mike Whitehead, and Tom Murphy. He sealed the deal with another decision over a much bigger Brad Imes in the finale, then followed Jardine down to 205 lbs where he racked up five additional victories (three of them also by decision) and a controversial draw with Tito Ortiz. Rashad is scheduled to face Chuck Liddell in his next fight; a victory is likely to assure a title shot for the still undefeated Evans.
[#17 LHW] Mike Whitehead
|Current Record: 21-5||Before: 9-4||On the show: 0-1||After: 12-1 (0-1 UFC)|
One of the more experienced fighters in the group, Miletich-trained Whitehead was considered a clear favorite to win the HW division at the beginning of the season, but gassed and fell flat in his only bout, losing a decision to Evans. An injury kept Whitehead off the finale, and he lost a decision to Keith Jardine in his next bout in the Octagon. Whitehead was cut from the UFC, and went on a tear, alternating between heavyweight and 205 and winning 12 consecutive fights. He will take on the UFC veteran Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral at the upcoming Affliction: Banned event.
[#56 HW] Brad Imes
|Current Record: 11-5||Before: 3-0||On the show: 2-0||After: 8-5 (0-3 UFC)|
Another MFS product, the 6’7″, 260+ Imes became a finalist of the heavyweight division after defeating Rob MacDonald by a triangle choke and Seth Petruzelli by decision, but lost a split decision to Rashad Evans in the finale. He lost his following two UFC bouts – an armbar submission to Dan Christison and a decision to Heath Herring, and was released from the organization. Since then Imes accumulated a respectable record of 6-2, including two consecutive wins by gogoplata submission; a first in MMA to our knowledge. He was stopped by Roy Nelson in his most recent IFL bout.
[#60 HW] Dan Christison
|Current Record: 12-6||Before: 7-3||On the show: 0-1||After: 5-3 (1-1 UFC)|
Christison was brought on the show in as an alternate contender, replacing the injured Kerry Schall. He was quickly eliminated after losing a decision to Seth Petruzelli. Christison submitted Brad Imes in his next UFC bout, then lost a close decision to Frank Mir, and found himself with two more losses in the IFL. He reversed his fortune in the smaller shows, stopping his last four opponents.
[#82 LHW] Seth Petruzelli
|Current Record: 9-4||Before: 7-2||On the show: 1-1||After: 2-2 (0-2 UFC)|
Prior to his stint on TUF, Petruzelli was best known in the combat sport world for losing a valiantly fought kickboxing bout to the giant Bob Sapp in K-1. He defeated Christison in his first elimination bout, then lost a decision to Brad Imes. Petruzelli only fought four times since the show, losing his both UFC bouts: a decision to Matt Hammill and a submission loss to Wilson Gouveia. He has not yet competed in 2008.
|Current Record: 5-3||Before: 3-0||On the show: 0-1||After: 2-3 (1-2 UFC)|
Rob MacDonald entered the competition with a pre-existing labrum injury, which was grossly aggravated in his loss to Brad Imes. He’s had three UFC bouts since then, defeating Kris Rotharmel but losing to Jason Lambert and Eric Schafer, all by submissions. In his most recent fight, MacDonald dropped a decision to Hector Ramirez in Canada’s now-defunct HFC promotion.
|Current Record: 3-0||Before: 1-0||On the show: 0-1||After: 2-0 (1-0 UFC)|
Tom Murphy entered the show with only a single professional bout on his record, and was eliminated after a decision loss to Rashad Evans. Murphy returned to the Octagon to earn a TKO stoppage over Icho Larenas at UFC 58, but then took a two year long layoff from the sport. He recently made a successful return to action, with a first round submission victory over Gregory Milliard in the TKO organization.
|Current Record: 21-10||Before: 18-7||On the show: 0-0||After: 3-3 (1 NC) (0-1 UFC)|
The most experienced heavyweight of the season, Kerry ‘Meat Truck’ Schall was forced to leave the show with a knee injury before even getting a chance to fight. He got his opportunity in the finale, where he was stopped by Jardine’s leg kicks. Schall has been active in minor MMA promotions, with a 3-2 record an 1 No Contest since his departure from UFC.
An interesting note: Schall faced the current #1 Heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko back in 2001. The video of this bout can be seen at Fedor’s official website here: http://fedor.bel.ru/video/schall/Emel_01.avi
|Current Record: 2-0||Before: 1-0||On the show: 0-0||After: 1-0|
Eli Joslin only appeared in one episode of the show, as he decided that he couldn’t deal with the stress of the house and the cameras, and left the contest on his own volition. He has earned a submission victory over Aaron Brink in his only MMA bout after TUF, then – as Mike Tyson might say – faded into the Bolivian.
If you missed our previous articles on the Ultimate Fighter Season 1 contestants, you can read them here: