Next week the UFC will bring their hit reality television series “The Ultimate Fighter” back to its home on Spike TV with fourteen new welterweight hopefuls eyeing a six figure contract to compete in the elite 170-lbs division in the world.
This season could prove to be one of their most successful with former WWE superstar and box office hit Brock Lesnar as one coach with the dangerous Nogueira product, Junior Dos Santos as the opposing coach.
298 people tried out to compete in this season of TUF but only fourteen of them are given the opportunity to fight their way into the octagon, in this article I will look at all participants and their chances of success on the upcoming season.
Nordin Asrih [16-5-1]
Asrih fights out of Dusseldorf, Germany – Asrih is one of Germany’s most popular fighters with his no nonsense attitude towards finishing his opponents.
“Fists of Tangier” as he is known in his homeland has his own gym called “Team Pride” based in his home land where he is also a coach to aspiring mixed martial artists.
Asrih will enter the reality series with the most experience 22 fights under his belt and experience competing in top organizations in his area such as M-1 Global and Cage Rage.
At 38 years of age the German product will need to make a run to the top of the welterweight division quickly but could prove to be his Achilles heel in the end.
Shamar Bailey [10-3]
Bailey enters The Ultimate Fighter looking to return to top form and make a run to the top of the UFC 17-lbs landscape – Bailey has competed around the United States since 2006 defeating Strikeforce veterans Waachim Spiritwolf and Roger Bowling.
Bailey is a former NCAA Division III collegiate wrestler currently training at Integrated Fighting Academy alongside the likes of Chris Lytle and Jake O’Brien.
The part time fire fighter will come onto the show riding a two fight losing streak but with some assistance from the world class coaches could prove to be a force in the upcoming season.
Len Bentley [9-4]
Bentley is a dark horse in the upcoming season but could shock a few people with his well-rounded skill set – A professional since 2008 who’s willing to fight anyone, anywhere, anytime with little to no notice.
Bentley trains alongside UFC & Strikeforce veteran Dennis Hallman on a day to day basis and has competed in M-1 Global as well as the first Strikeforce Challengers event.
Bentley enters the season after winning three of his last five bouts after facing the likes of Tom Gallicchio and veteran of last season of TUF, Cody McKenzie.
Bentley doesn’t bring the most diverse skill set to the cage but he brings a finish first attitude which could bring forward some entertaining matches on this season and possibly land him a long term deal with the organization even in defeat.
Michael Bowman [7-2]
Bowman is another dark horse that could bring forth action and demand a cult following – The British combatant was once a part of the navy where he trained in boxing during his two and a half year tenure.
The Wolfslair product trains alongside middleweight contender Michael Bisping and is currently riding a four fight win streak.
Bowman has competed in nine professional MMA bouts with none of them relying on the score cards at cage side, win or lose Bowman enters the cage looking for the finish and is sure to turn a few heads with his wild fighting style.
Keon Caldwell [8-1]
Caldwell comes in as a relative unknown with nine professional bouts under his belt with none of them requiring the judges’ score cards Caldwell will bring a dynamic and exciting game to the reality show.
The former centerfielder for the 2003 State Champion Colquitt County High School is a natural athlete however due to having a wife and young child to raise has to work part time as a roofer which allows him to only dedicate a portion of his time to his MMA game.
The self-proclaimed “Black Assassin” is only 26 years of age and currently only has a single defeat in highly touted prospect Dhiego Lima last year.
Caldwell will have the opportunity to provide for his family and train full time if he is able to come out on top and earn a six figure contract inside the UFC.
Chris Cope [4-1]
Cope walks into the forthcoming season with a world of promise after training in martial arts since the age of eight however only has five professional bouts under his belt.
Cope trains out of The Arena Gym in San Diego, California alongside Strikeforce welterweight title challenger Evangalista “Cyborg” Santos and loves to throw the devastating head kick which has finished two of his fights to date.
Cope comes in as a naturally talented martial artist however with his lack of experience could be pushed to the back of the pack of 170-lbs combatants.
Zach Davis [4-1]
Davis traded in what many would consider a dream career following a degree in criminal justice to get punched in the face on a daily basis – Davis received his degree in 2006 and since then has made his job accommodate to his goal of one day becoming a part of the UFC’s welterweight division.
The natural 170 pounder walks in as a bit of an unknown, he has five fights under his belt and has never been to the judges’ score cards and that’s about all we know about Davis.
Whether or not he is ready to play with the big boys at this stage in his still young career is the big question but with his dedication to following his dream he could shock the world and leave with the UFC contract.
Tony Ferguson [10-2]
The favorite to collect that UFC contract is unquestionably Tony Ferguson – Ferguson is a two time All-American wrestler who captured a 165-lbs Championship during his collegiate career.
“El Cucuy” Ferguson enters the forthcoming season after capturing the Pure Combat welterweight title from undefeated wrestler Brock Jardine however never had the opportunity to defend it.
Ferguson has won six of his last seven bouts with more than half of his victories coming by way of knockout.
Ferguson will enter the octagon with a world of confidence and with his dynamic and well-rounded skill set should be making waves in the welterweight division in no time.
Clay Harvison [6-1]
Harvison comes onto the thirteenth season after a majority of his life dedication being put towards competing as a professional soccer player however he traded in the soccer ball for training pads when he was introduced to kickboxing.
Several years later he has six victories under his belt including a first round stoppage of TUF 6 veteran Blake Bowman and has the opportunity to make a splash in the UFC’s welterweight division.
Harvison brings forward a say story following the losses of his brother Kyle and father Dennis in the past three years and is determined to fight in their memory.
Myles Jury [9-0]
Maybe the top contender to take the title and contract away from the favorite Tony Ferguson is Myles Jury – Jury brings an unblemished record into this season with four of his victories coming in less than a minute.
Jury began training alongside UFC veterans Hermes Franca and Dan Henderson before settling in at Victory MMA Gym in San Diego, California.
Jury brings a well-rounded game into the UFC and seemingly the sky is the limit for this young, exciting prospect.
Ryan McGillivray [11-4-1]
Canadian prospect McGillivray has been competing in combat sports from an early age and in recent times has focused his full attentions on mixed martial arts.
McGillivray brings in loads of experience after competing in Canada’s premiere MMA organization MFC which airs live on HDNet facing quality opponents and leaving with the upper hand more times than not.
“The Kid” is a submission specialist and could prove to be a handful for a number of the competitors on this season.
Ramsey Nijem [4-1]
Nijem is a former collegiate wrestler who has since linked with UFC veterans Josh Burkman and Court McGee to further his game at the Riven Academy in Utah.
Nijem will carry a three fight win streak into the UFC most recently stopping Scott Casey with a first round rear naked choke in September.
Nijem doesn’t have the most experience but is another underdog prospect who could work his way into the UFC with some impressive showings.
Charlie Rader [16-5]
Rader is a former college wrestling Champion at 170-lbs and since then has worked as a trainer and fighter to pursue his lifelong goal of fighting in the UFC.
Rader trains alongside lightweight contender Melvin Guillard and most recently made a successful return to Bellator Fighting Championships by stopping TUF Season 1 veteran Josh Raffersty in the opening frame.
Rader brings in a wealth of experience and two regional championships and could have potential to make a run in the UFC welterweight division.
Javier Torres [3-0]
The least experienced cast member on the forthcoming season is Javier Torres, the relative unkown walks in with three stoppages in as many fights.
Torres was born and raised in Mexico where he and his family still resides – He first entered combat sports with a boxing career at the age of 8 and has been in love with fighting ever since, now training under Sean Tompkins.
Although he doesn’t have the experience that the others possess he brings in explosive punching power that can finish any opponent at any time.
When the upcoming season goes to air it’s anybody’s game with a few standouts who are likely to take home the title but several underdogs waiting in the wings for their chance to shock the world.
All the action kicks off on March 30th on Spike TV at 9PM, be sure to follow me on twitter @justinfauxmma for my live thoughts and analysis.