The success of The Ultimate Fighter is largely determined by the personalities of the coaches, perhaps even more than the fights and training. Here is a list of the greatest coaches in history.
10. Matt Serra, TUF 6
The author of the biggest upset in UFC history was also a decent coach. He was mostly there for facetime and to throw out some quips at his nemesis Matt Hughes, but he was also there for the face time and to throw out some quips at his nemesis Matt Hughes. He was familiar with the game from his time as a contestant, and he had years of experience developing fighters with his fight team.
He put together a good team of fighters and competent coaching staff, but he didn't generate many guys who had a significant impact on the UFC. George Sotiropoulos is the only remaining member of his team from that season. Still, for a few weeks, he drove the notoriously unlikable Hughes insane, and that adds up something.
9. Frank Mir, TUF 8
Mir has always gotten a lot of flak for his attitude and the way he conducts himself, and his time on TUF was no exception. Still, he's a fantastic mixed martial artist with a high fight IQ, and he assembled a fantastic team of assistants to assist his chosen fighters in their development.
While he didn't have a champion in either bracket for the show, he did show a keen eye for talent, as all eight of his fighters fought on a UFC card other than the season finale at some point. At the end of the season, he also won the coach vs. coach fight.
8. Minotauro Nogueira, TUF 8
In Season 8, Nogueira faced Mir and demonstrated his ability to mold young fighters while also proving to be the genuinely good guy about whom most fans had heard so much. His team produced three of the four finalists that year, as well as both winners.
He went on to lose the season finale to Mir at UFC 92, but he got results from the guys in the house and demonstrated that he could enhance them in a short period while also building a sense of team—not surprising given how well-liked he is as a coach outside of TUF.
7. Michael Bisping, TUF 9
While Michael Bisping's TUF 9 run is best remembered for ending with a near-decapitation KO loss to Dan Henderson, he was an excellent coach during his time with Team UK that season.
He did a good job of developing his fighters, putting in the effort to bring them together as a team, and he seemed to enjoy himself. Sure, he irritated Henderson, but Bisping isn't exactly known for being an affable, lovable character, and he got what he deserved in the cage.
During his second stint as a coach on TUF 14, he was much worse, but his first stint produced winners in both weight classes and four UFC fighters.
6. Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell, TUF 1
Couture and Liddell, the original TUF coaches, faced off in the first season of the show that forever changed MMA. It's impossible to give credit to one over the other because they almost worked together to ensure that the fighters under their guidance gained something from the experience.
Given that there was a lot of time wasted on guys pulling logs through the desert and Chris Leben sleeping on the lawn, it's difficult to get a true sense of how great of a job they did, but both are renowned fighters and figureheads in the sport.
5. Junior Dos Santos, TUF 13
TUF 13 will be remembered by most for being uneventful, demonstrating that Brock Lesnar was a pretty quiet, normal guy when he wasn't putting on a show in an arena and popularizing the phrase "you can't make chicken salad out of chicken s—-." However, the man who was supposed to coach against Lesnar, now-heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos, turned out to be a fantastic coach.
He cared about his players, did everything he could to help them improve, hired excellent assistant coaches, and went through a rigorous English learning program before starting his coaching career in the hopes of improving communication with his squad.
He worked out with his team, taught them everything he knew, and when he needed help, he turned to men like Anderson Silva and Big Nog. His insufferable wrestling coach, Lew Polley, was the only drawback, which Dos Santos politely dealt with as well. The show went to Lesnar's guy, but Dos Santos was a better coach.
4. Rashad Evans, TUF 10
Rashad Evans was one of the best coaches in the show's history, and while some of that was because he looked good in comparison to his opponent Rampage Jackson, the majority of it had to do with Evans' MMA prowess.
He brought in excellent trainers to serve as assistant coaches, possessed a wealth of knowledge, and never backed down from Jackson's schoolyard antics.
What's the result? After the show, there was an all-Team Evans finale, as well as a group of guys who got some UFC time.
3. Georges St-Pierre, TUF 12
St-Pierre was a fantastic coach not because he knew how to coach, but because he knew how not to coach.
The welterweight kingpin demonstrated that his nice-guy image was well-deserved by essentially using his coaching stint as a fight camp and participating in it alongside his team while more qualified coaches taught them. He used it to build up enough hatred for Josh Koscheck that by the time they fought, he had almost blinded him.
The majority of his team stayed with the UFC, and three of the final four were Team GSP members. His strategy did work.
2. Jason “Mayhem” Miller, TUF 14
He provided plenty of hands-on training, sound advice, and was by far the best cornerman in the show's history. Perhaps in the history of mixed martial arts.
John Dodson, a Team Miller fighter, won the bantamweight title and will fight for the flyweight title soon. Mayhem also advanced seven of his eight fighters to the UFC in fights that took place after the season finale, which is a remarkable feat.
1. Tito Ortiz, TUF 3
He genuinely cared about his teammates, from renaming the group Team Punishment rather than Team Ortiz to actively seeking out ways to improve communication with Matt Hamill, who was deaf. After a season of never giving the overly-entitled legend an inch, Tito did everything right that season, picking two winners and blitzing Ken Shamrock twice in the cage.
He did a great job conditioning his guys, teaching them how to be better in the cage, and living every second of every outcome with the rest of his team in the trenches.
While he was forgettable during his second stint as a coach on TUF 11, he was the perfect example of how a man should conduct himself and his team during his first stint as a coach.