In the previous episode of the Ultimate Fighter, we saw Team UK’s Dave Faulkner unwillingly fight the third and final round of his match against American Frank Lester. As a result, the fight was called and Lester was announced the winner, moving on to the semifinals.
Team UK coach Michael Bisping was furious, and rightfully so. The competitors on TUF are given the chance of a lifetime, one that most athletes will never receive. Fighting on the show is a culmination of all the sacrifices a fighter must make to succeed, including time away from their families and friends and years in the gym training.
So, why get there, with a chance to move on to the semifinals, and then quit? Why climb so far only to turn back when the summit is in sight? After the match, Bisping flatly told Faulkner, “you will regret this for the rest of your life.”
What fighters like Faulkner must remember is that, on the Ultimate Fighter, sometimes the guys who lose can still come out winners.
There is an established precedent of fighters who have lost on the show that then become UFC mainstays. Marcus Davis lost in the first round of TUF season two, but took the skills he learned on the show and continued to grow as a fighter. He even lost to Melvin Guillard at the TUF two finale, but Dana White will reward fighters who show determination and a pension for excitement.
Today, Davis is one of the most prominent fighters in the organization.
Perhaps even more perplexing is that Faulkner is not the only fighter to quit while on the show, he’s just the most recent. In fact, it was just one week prior that mopey Jason Pierce Eeyored his way out of a fight with Faulkner, opening the door for Lester to take his place.
At least Faulkner fought two rounds, while Pierce made it clear he wasn’t interested in getting into the ring.
Faulkner and Pierce aren’t the only guys to quit on TUF. In fact, they aren’t even among some of the worst. Let’s take a look back at the top five most infamous dropouts from all nine seasons of the Ultimate Fighter.
5. Eli Joslin (Season Two)
Eli Joslin is one of the strangest dropouts to appear in the TUF Hall of Shame. Joslin lasted for a grand total of one episode, claiming that he could not handle the pressure that the cameras placed on him. Of course, this begs the question: Why try out for a TV show when you don’t like cameras?
4. Joe Scarola (Season Six)
Matt Serra’s top pick just couldn’t seem to get his head on straight. Scarola essentially quit during the middle of the first fight of the season when he allowed Mac Danzig to catch him in an easily-avoidable triangle. Scarola then spent a few days complaining that he wanted to go home, which he eventually did.
The decision not only cost Scarola his shot at the UFC, but it also cost him his job as an instructor at Serra’s school.
3. Gabe Ruediger (Season Five)
While Ruediger may not have technically quit, he might as well have. He showed up for the show 20 pounds overweight, and made very little effort to cut to the required 156 pounds. When selected to fight, Ruediger tried getting a colonic to remove the weight, then flopped around in the sauna until he passed out.
In one of the most dramatic performances in TUF, history Ruediger weakly whispered to his teammates, begging them to drag him back into the sauna. After failing to make weight, Ruediger was promptly expelled from the house.
2. Kristian Rotharmel and Tait Fletcher (Season Three)
When Matt Hammill was declared unfit to fight eventual champ Michael Bisping in the semifinals of TUF Season Three, a golden opportunity was presented to Kristian Rotharmle and Tait Fletcher. Both had lost in the first round but were the only healthy light heavyweights available. Whoever stepped up would be one fight away from the finals.
Amazingly, both men turned down the opportunity, citing a lack of mental preparation. They had lived in the house and trained all the way through, but when Joe Opportunity came knocking, both men told him to take a hike.
1. Noah Inhofer (Season Three)
Inhofer became the gold standard for quitting thanks to his performance on TUF Season Three. He showed some skill in the first round, beating Jesse Forbes with an arm bar, and advanced to the semifinals.
That is as far as he got.
Inhofer somehow received word that his girlfriend thought that he had cheated on her. After several attempts by his coaches and Dana White to talk him out of it, Inhofer gave up his spot in the semifinals and went home.
It was revealed that Inhofer had only been with the girl for approximately five months, yet he still decided to give up on the biggest opportunity of his life to take care of the rumor. He had fought, showed skill and potential, and threw it all away.
Think someone else should have made the list? Email Trevor at firstname.lastname@example.org