TUF’s Top Seven Moments

TUF's Top Moments

By Scott Holmes Apr 2, 2008
This week Forbes published an article on getting bullied at work and how to spot it and avoid it. While I can spot it, I haven't seemed to learn how to avoid it.

Three years and six seasons ago, "The Ultimate Fighter" made history by being the first show to showcase MMA in a reality television setting and changed the course of the sport forever. On the eve of the seventh season (SpikeTV, Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET/PT), my work bully asked me to whip up the seven best moments in TUF history as I see them. No polls or DVR -- just the best moments of TUF in my memory of having covered every episode.

Since the show is "reality," 90 percent of it comes from forced drama thanks to the situations and careful editing. With all due respect to the great fights we've seen and the epic moments, like watching chicks fall off horses, here are the top seven moments that stick out in my mind.

7. The first couple of seasons of TUF were dumb in that they had team challenges that no one wanted to see. Sure, MTV has made a killing having "Real World" and "Road Rules" casts compete in all kinds of stupidity. But when it comes to fighters, no one wants to see them waste time by climbing ropes or dropping flags in a bin.

However, in Season 2, one challenge was beyond hilarious when Joe Stevenson had to keep his body off the ground by revolving around Mike Whitehead (Pictures). Not only did the poor guy do it for hours, after he had finished, Team Franklin decided to forfeit, which left Team Hughes looking spent and stupid. It was quality television for those of us that love minor tragedies and mental games.

6. In Season 5 Gabe Ruediger (Pictures) came on the show a little heavy for the lightweight lineup -- like 20 pounds heavy. Instead of seeing shots of Gabe getting in extra cardio or eating wedge salads, it was cake and enemas as he prepared for his fight with Corey Hill, who is so skinny that the irony is not worth pointing out.

Having to cut tons of weight at the last minute, Ruediger's time in the sauna was so taxing and overly dramatic that had they watched it, the entire cast of "Titanic" would have puked.

"Pull me back in," he whispers as a tear rolls down his cheek. Never mind that he wanted no part of the sauna until they announced he couldn't fight.

All joking aside, Gabe Ruediger (Pictures) was one of the best TUF castings ever.

5. For all the stars that TUF has helped make famous -- Sanchez, Griffin, Stevenson, Jardine, Herman, Bisping, etc. -- just as many fighters have become infamous thanks to poor decisions made during the show (see No. 6). Noah Inhofer's predicament shone a light on the type of things that most fighters, or guys wanting to fight, have to deal with every day.

There is adversity outside the ring as well as within, and both will test your mettle to be a true champion. Noah smoked opponent Jesse Forbes (Pictures) by submission but instead of sticking around to see how far he could go, he bailed after learning that his new girlfriend might be cheating on him back home.

Men can have a hard time trusting their women. Fortunately, most of us don't cave in on national television. I felt for Noah, but that didn't make it any less pathetic. Internet quarterbacks got a good laugh, and I had a very easy article to write that week.

4. Following on the heels of No. 3 comes Dana White's legendary speech in Season 1, when he asks, "Do you want to be a f------ fighter?"

No! No one wants to be that, but an MMA fighter maybe. Dana got his point across to that season's fighters, but maybe not to everyone since. It seems as if a few competitors that never really wanted to compete slip through the cracks. Blame Dana and the producers since they cast personalities over talent from time to time.

In Season 3, Kristian Rothaermel and Tait Fletcher (Pictures) chose not to accept a second chance to fight on the show. Maybe they had their reasons -- like not wanting to train with Ken Shamrock (Pictures) anymore -- or maybe they had a gut-check-in-the-mirror moment and didn't like what they saw. Either way, White's words still ring true every season. Fighters that look to get famous on this show typically achieve that goal when they perform like what they purport to be: hungry fighters with a golden ticket.
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