MMA Analysis: A Look Back at The Ultimate Fighter Coaches

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The 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter ends tonight with the final two semifinal bouts in the first season to feature bantamweights and featherweights. For only the second time in series history the coaches will square off at the finale this Saturday alongside their fighters.

This season featured two coaches that from the first episode made it perfectly clear they didn’t like each other, Jason “Mayhem” Miller and  Michael “The Count” Bisping. Like many seasons before, the drama between the coaches branded one the good guy and the other bad.

Now this season you just needed to look at the coaches to make an educated guess on who was going to be good guy (Miller) and who was the bad guy (Bisping). That has not always been the case throughout the 14 seasons though; some bad boys have left the show a fan favorite while a few popular fighters left with a few less fans.

With this being the 14th and final season on Spike TV for the popular series, let’s get nostalgic and take a look back at the past coaches.

The first two seasons featured popular UFC fighters Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Matt Hughes and Rich Franklin. UFC Hall of famers Liddell and Couture coached the inaugural season and would later fight each other at UFC 52, but they were pretty tame (compared to recent seasons). In season two Rich Franklin played it cool while his friend Matt Hughes dabbled with the bad guy role towards some of the fighters.

The third season brought the series its first rivals as “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock yelled and pointed fingers at each other. The two coaches created a lot of drama but it was the genuine caching from Ortiz that showed a different side of the bad boy, turned good guy from Huntington Beach.

The fifth and sixth seasons also featured rivals but they couldn’t live up to the original. Jens Pulver and B.J. Penn handled the duties in season five and were the only coaches to fight on the finale, until this Saturday’s TUF 14 finale). Matt Serra completely disliked Matt Hughes during season six but what stood out was just how annoyingly loud Serra was, especially during the fights.

In season seven the UFC mixed things up and had the light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and the TUF season one winner Forrest Griffin coach. They played pranks and joked throughout the season, helping the two become even more popular amongst fans. Griffin would go on to defeat Jackson at UFC 86 to become the first TUF winner to become champion.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Frank Mir were the season eight coaches and as the season wore on the arrogance of Mir showed through. Mir was never one of the most likable guys in the UFC but after the show it was evident why. Nogueria was introduced to many fans that might not have seen him in his PRIDE days, easily earning “Big Nog” some extra fans.

Bisping got KTFO

In season nine it was USA vs. the UK with the season three winner Michael Bisping coaching alongside Dan Henderson. Fans already knew what they were getting with Bisping from season three but the nonsense that came out of his mouth that season could only be rivaled be what we’ve seen from him in season 14. Henderson has always been one of few words and he let his right hand do the talking when the two meet at UFC 100 with one of the most popular knockouts ever.

The tenth season featured heavyweights which already put the season behind the eight ball. The childish trash talking between coaches Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Rashad Evans didn’t do the season any favors either. After looking good in season seven as coach, Jackson exited the season as the sore losing coach that only had one fighter advance out of the preliminary round.

Season 11 was Chuck Liddell coaching opposite his old friend turn enemy Tito Ortiz. The “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” once again showed that he is a very good coach and Liddell showed the same. Liddell made comments throughout the show that Ortiz was going to back out of the fight and unfortunately Ortiz did in fact pull out of the fight near the end of the show. Rich Franklin stepped in to finish the season while Ortiz left the show as the bad guy.

The very popular Georges St. Pierre coached season 12 with Josh Koscheck and boy were those two opposite sides of a magnet. Koscheck entered the show as a bad boy, but the constant trash talking, low blows and picking fights with another coach brought him to another level. As for GSP, he did everything in his power to ignore Koscheck and brought in as many people to help train his team.

This brings us to last season as the recently crowned heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos and Brock Lesnar coached TUF 13. Coming into the UFC, Lesnar was heavily disliked by fans for a multitude of reasons and after he won the heavyweight title he was borderline hated. The always smiling Dos Santos had to deal with more drama from one of his coaches than any of the fighters or Lesnar. All in all though both fighters came out looking better than they did coming in, but the Lesnar haters still hated him.

Now to the current season, this ends tonight. Miller hasn’t always been the likable character we see now but over time he’s either changed or fans have just grown to like him. Having seen Bisping on season three as a fighter and season nine as a coach everyone thought they knew what to  expect this season. Miller genuinely embraced helping the fighters and seemed to have fun 98% of the time. Bisping let his fighters consistently disrespect the other team, almost provoking them yet popped a gasket when team Miller stood up for themselves.

Sounds like Bisping needs to make an appearance on “Bully Beatdown” don’t you think?

Note: Season four didn’t have two set coaches; the season was called the comeback and there were several coaches helping both teams.