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4 best coaches in Ultimate Fighter history

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 20:07 IST

Chael Sonnen turned out to be a fantastic coach during his stints on TUF
Chael Sonnen turned out to be a fantastic coach during his stints on TUF

One of the keys to the success of The Ultimate Fighter over the years has been the choice of coaches for the reality show. While there have been some exceptions – Season 4, for instance, didn’t have coaches – most of the time the two coaches selected are a pair of top-ranked fighters, often a UFC champion and a potential challenger, and the season is therefore used to build a fight between them.

Coaches such as Brock Lesnar, Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones have obviously brought in viewers to the reality show, but given that many of the fighters chosen to coach usually aren’t experienced in teaching lesser fighters, the results we’ve seen have often been mixed.

The likes of Rampage Jackson and Matt Hughes clearly struggled with the job at times, while others like Shane Carwin were largely non-entities, preferring to leave the heavy lifting to their own coaches. A handful of fighters proved to be absolutely phenomenal in the role, though – and should probably consider a move into coaching at some point in the future.

Here the 4 best coaches in TUF history.

#1 Matt Serra (Season 6)

Matt Serra did a stellar job as a coach on TUF 6
Matt Serra did a stellar job as a coach on TUF 6

When rivals Matt Serra and Matt Hughes were selected as coaches for the 6th season of TUF in 2007, on the face of it the advantage appeared to be with Hughes, who had previous experience in the role having coached alongside Rich Franklin in Season 2 two years prior. Things didn’t quite turn out that way though, as while Hughes ended up with two of his fighters in the tournament final, it was quite clear that Serra was a superior coach.

Not that Hughes should’ve felt too bad about that – he didn’t do a bad job; it was more that Serra was simply fantastic. The then-UFC Welterweight champion arguably had a weaker team on paper – the likes of John Kolosci, Troy Mandaloniz and Richie Hightower clearly weren’t the most natural athletes – but Serra, alongside a team of coaches which included Ray Longo and Pete Sell, was able to get the absolute best out of them, much to the chagrin of Hughes.

Displaying a calm, laid-back demeanour that had his fighters eating from the palm of his hand, Serra coached his team to the point where they won 6 out of 8 fights against Hughes’s charges – and could’ve won 7 had Jon Koppenhaver been able to finish a rear naked choke attempt on Tommy Speer.

It came as no surprise when Serra actually ended up rising to major fame as a top-level coach alongside Longo shortly after the season had ended – since his stint on TUF he’s trained many top-level UFC fighters, including former Middleweight champion Chris Weidman as well as high-level contenders Aljamain Sterling, Gian Villante and Al Iaquinta.

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Published 30 Nov 2018, 03:25 IST
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