TUF 18: Creating a 16-Person Cast of Male and Female Bantamweights
Last night at UFC 158, Dana White announced that the next season of The Ultimate Fighter will feature the first two female coaches in Ronda Rousey and the winner of Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano.
Even more than that, it was announced that the season will feature both men and women in the TUF house training and living with one another. This will definitely make for some interesting TV.
It was also said by White on the UFC telecast that both the men and women will be from the bantamweight division.
With that, here is a cast of 16 fighters that could make the cast and make some memorable moments.
If you noticed, most of the men are normally flyweights, which would work because the weight cut would be easier. There is also some international flavor among the men, with representatives from Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Josh Hill (9-0) is an undefeated Canadian whose latest outing saw him beat fellow Canadian prospect John Fraser. Most of his wins come by decision, but that is a testament to his will and well-roundedness.
Gustavo Falciroli (13-4-2) is a veteran of the Pacific MMA circuit and hails from Australia. Falciroli owns six wins by submission and owns victories against Richie Vaculik and Soo Chul Kim.
Darrell Montague (12-2) is normally a flyweight but is probably the best 125-pounder in the world not currently in the UFC. Any way to get him in the UFC is a good way, so having this well-rounded fighter on TUF would be beneficial.
Josh Sampo (9-2) is also normally a flyweight and may be the hottest fighter in the division right now. The submission artist (five wins by tapout) is on a three-fight winning streak, including victories over UFC veteran Antonio Banuelos and Bellator vet Alexis Vila.
James Brum (11-2) is a knockout artist who is a veteran of the Cage Warriors promotion. He owns two notable victories against Martin McDonough and James Saville, both respected British fighters in the UK regional circuit.
Jonathan Mackles (13-2) is a top-notch bantamweight who is very well-rounded. His most notable victory was a submission against Bellator vet Chad Robichaux, a respected bantamweight himself.
Dustin Ortiz (10-2) is a flyweight that has some very good upside. Ortiz is solid whether the fight is on the feet or the mat, and he has notable wins over Aaron Ely and Josh Rave.
Aljamain Sterling (7-0) is an undefeated prospect that is athletic and powerful. He owns victories over Sean Santella and Claudio Ledesma, a testament to his skills as a mixed martial artist.
As for the women, it looks like the UFC and Invicta will be sharing talent.
Leslie Smith (5-2-1) is a member of the Cesar Gracie team and has been nothing less than exciting in her fights with Invicta. She owns wins over Kaitlyn Young and Raquel Pennington in her young MMA career and fights Sarah Kaufman in her next outing.
Jessamyn Duke (2-0) is a tall, young fighter, standing at 5'11". She has finished both her opponents (Suzie Montero and Marciea Allen) and fights Miriam Nakamoto at Invicta 5.
Shayna Baszler (15-8) shouldn't need to use TUF to get in the UFC, but since she is not signed yet, this would be a good way to get her in the company. Baszler is a nasty submission specialist (14 wins via tapout) with notable wins over Sarah D'Alelio, Elaina Maxwell and Alexis Davis.
D'Alelio (7-3) is another submission fighter with high-level experience and success. Her last two wins have come at the expense of Amanda Nunes and Vanessa Porto, whom she tapped out with a reverse triangle armbar.
Lauren Taylor (5-0) is the proud owner of five TKO wins in her short career thus far. Her latest outing came in the Legacy Fighting Championship promotion where she manhandled Jennifer Scott in under a round.
Raquel Pennington (3-3) may not have the sexiest record, but has faced high-level opposition. The well-rounded fighter has stepped in the squared circle against the likes of Leslie Smith, Cat Zingano and Raquel Pa'aluhi.
Kaitlin Young (7-7-1) is another fighter with a tough record, but she also has put in work against some of the best. The knockout artist has faced Leslie Smith, Liz Carmouche and Gina Carano, proving she has the talent to step in the cage with the cream of the crop.
Shayna Nelson (5-2) is a Strikeforce veteran that would need to drop from featherweight on the show. Seeing as she is listed at only 140 pounds, I think that drop may be doable for the fighter owning three of her five wins by TKO.
There is a brief rundown of a potential cast that could make for an awesome show. Comment below on what you think and who you would like to see on the next season of TUF.