The Ultimate Fighter has been the golden ticket to the UFC for many mixed martial artists. The show has produced some of the greatest fighters in UFC history and has made champions with the likes of Michael Bisping, TJ Dillashaw, Matt Serra, Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans and Rose Namajunas, all originating from the show. The show has just finished filming its 27th series which is expected to be on your screens in the near future. So as you can imagine in 26 series’ the show has had its fair share of unimpressive fighters, I’m going to take you through 5 great fighters from the show who for some reason couldn’t make things click inside The Ultimate Fighter or inside the UFC.
5. Nick Osipczak
Season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter saw Team UK coached by former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping, and Team USA coached by Dan Henderson, go head to head in a special nations version of the show. In team UK was Nick Osipczak. The Brit had accumulated a 3-0 professional record before appearing on The Ultimate Fighter. He won his first three fights and was going strong. In the semi-final, Osipczak lost to Demarques Johnson in a fight Dana White called “One of the greatest fights in TUF history”.
Osipczak defeated Frank Lester in the finale of the show and was given a UFC contract. Just five months later, Osipczak also defeated Matthew Riddle, and things were looking good for the Londoner. That was until three decisions went against Osipczak and he was cut from MMA’s greatest proving ground, so he decided to stop fighting. Nick opened up his own MMA school in 2011, and after 4 years made a return to professional fighting saying he felt reborn. Despite a first round rear naked choke victory over Kyle Redfearn in Milton Keynes, Osipczak never returned to fighting.
Now Osipczak concentrates on his art. An avid painter, Nick was selected to be the In-House artist for one of London’s top Interior Design shops and made a documentary “Hitting the canvas with Nick Osipczak.”
4. Mehdi Baghdad
Mehdi Baghdad had two stints in The Ultimate Fighter. The first time was in series 22. He came into the competition with a vast amount of experience, an impressive 11-3 record, and held two different titles at other organisations before appearing on the show. Victory over Artem Lobov was a great start for “The Sultan”, but he crashed out of the tournament with a terrible performance against Julian Erosa. However, Baghdad still had two fights for the UFC and lost them both to Chris Wade and John Makdessi.
Series 25 Redemption dropped, and Baghdad got his second chance, but a fired up Jesse Taylor was too much for “The Sultan” who for a second time found his TUF days cut short. Baghdad has fallen off the radar since and has been silent regarding his future. I hope we one day see the Frenchman back inside the cage but I certainly would not count on it.
3. Hayder Hassan
Hayder Hassan, much like Mehdi Baghdad, also had two separate opportunities to impress in The Ultimate Fighter. BlackZillians vs American Top Team was his first shot. Lightning fast power puncher Hassan, fought his way to the finale where he lost to top welterweight contender Kamaru Usman by arm triangle. Hassan got a single shot in the UFC but another submission loss, this time to Vicente Luque, meant that Hassan’s UFC career was short-lived.
Series 25 Redemption was Hassan’s second chance too. An 18-second K.O over Joe Stevenson got many excited, but a fired up Jesse Taylor had other ideas and he submitted Hassan leaving the American out of the competition.
Hassan has not given up hope on his dreams. He now fights at Pheonix Fighting Championships in Dubai. He lost his debut via DQ after landing elbows to the back of the head, which was a little harsh. Hassan will have his second fight for Pheonix against Pavel Kushch in Dubai. No date has been set, but I look forward to following Hassan in his career.
2. Jonathan Brookins
Jonathan Brookins came to The Ultimate Fighter with an 11-3 record and lived up to his own expectations. He made easy work of his opponents before winning the competition by beating Michael Johnson in the finale via decision. But despite winning the show, his UFC career was far from what we had become to expect from Brookins.
A loss in his first fight to Erik Koch seemed a minor setback as he returned with a sensational knockout victory over Vagner Rocha. The UFC chose not to renew Brookins contract after two back to back submission defeats to Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirer.
The Ultimate Fighter winner was not done though, he is still fighting but in smaller organisations. A 3-4 record since his UFC departure is far from ideal for his fans, but they would be pleased with his recent victory over Decky Dalton at Bamma 28 back in February of last year.
1. Junie Browning
Junie Browning appeared on season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter. He only had a 2-0 record, but he showed great potential and looked like a future contender very early on. Antics inside the house meant Browning was on thin ice from the start with Dana. A complete lack of respect, boozing, and starting fights with everyone in a 3-mile radius, gave us quite the entertaining show. But this showed mental fragility in Browning’s head, who was quite clearly crying out for some sort of attention.
Browning impressively fought his way to the semi-final before losing to Efrain Escudero. Browning fought on the finale card against Dave Kaplan and won in great style. But, he lost his next fight to Cole Miller, which ended “The Lunatiks” reign in the UFC. Browning went on to fight Scott Cornwell at MMA Big Show. Browning went on to lose his next five fights and he gave up on his fighting career.
Browning has since moved back to his hometown Lexington, Kentucky and has taken a coaches job at 4 Seasons MMA with long-time friend and trainer Michael O’Donnell. In recent posts on Facebook, Junie has claimed he has found a true passion in “being alive”, and has taken to training the students. After four years away from the sport, Browning won a fight against Jeremy Myers in his hometown but has since gone off the radar.
Well, that concludes our list, I hope you have enjoyed the article and look forward to many more seasons of The Ultimate Fighter!