5 great UFC fighters who were unsuccessful TUF coaches

Rampage Jackson (left), Conor McGregor (centre), Brock Lesnar (right)
Rampage Jackson (left), Conor McGregor (centre), Brock Lesnar (right)

UFC superstar Conor McGregor is currently coming under fire from fans for his coaching performance on the 31st season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF).

Conor McGregor’s team have not won a single fight on the current season of TUF, but will ‘The Notorious’ rank amongst the worst coaches in the show’s history?

It’ll only be possible to judge McGregor’s performance once the current season ends, but should his team keep losing fights, he’d have to be considered alongside the following stars.

Here are five great UFC fighters who were unsuccessful TUF coaches.

Note: It must be taken into context that TUF is a highly edited series, therefore the coaching performances can only be based on what is made available to viewers.


#5. Matt Hughes – TUF 2 & TUF 6

Matt Hughes seemed to find coaching on TUF a challenge
Matt Hughes seemed to find coaching on TUF a challenge

It’s probably fair to say that including former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes on this list comes with a caveat.

That’s because the Illinois-based wrestler actually produced two TUF winners during his two stints as a coach on the reality show – season two’s Joe Stevenson and season six’s Mac Danzig.

However, a fair argument could probably be made that Hughes simply managed to pick the right fighters from the start rather than help them to improve with his coaching.

Hughes was undoubtedly a great fighter in his prime, but the issue he seemed to have was that he found it hard to coach fighters who weren’t as naturally talented as he was.

This meant that he didn’t seem to understand why athletic fighters that he picked – Billy Miles and Dan Barrera from season six, for instance – struggled against opponents who seemed less capable.

Add in the fact that Hughes was portrayed as a bully at points, beating down some of his students in sparring sessions, and it’d be difficult to claim that he was as good a coach as he was a fighter.

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#4. Josh Koscheck – TUF 12

Josh Koscheck was more focused on his feud with Georges St-Pierre than anything during TUF 12
Josh Koscheck was more focused on his feud with Georges St-Pierre than anything during TUF 12

The 12th season of TUF was coached by UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and top contender Josh Koscheck, and it’s probably fair to say that ‘GSP’ got the better of things.

The tone was set for the series when St-Pierre was able to manipulate Koscheck into picking Marc Stevens, rather than the favored Michael Johnson, first when it came to team selection.

From there, it felt like the Canadian was one step ahead throughout the season. Only two of Koscheck’s fighters – Nam Phan and Sako Chivitchian – made it through the first round, with Aaron Wilkinson joining them via the wildcard bout.

More embarrassingly, though, Koscheck seemed more focused on feuding with ‘GSP’ – as well as his medic Brad Tate – at times than helping his fighters succeed.

Most memorably, the TUF 1 veteran looked completely stumped when Stevens, who was nicknamed ‘Mini Koscheck’ by his castmates, dived right into a guillotine choke during his bout with Cody McKenzie.

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Koscheck did at least appear to try to make his team improve, but due to his fighters’ terrible record inside the octagon, it’s hard not to include him here.


#3. Brock Lesnar – TUF 13

Brock Lesnar alienated some of his fighters on TUF 13
Brock Lesnar alienated some of his fighters on TUF 13

At the time of his stint on the reality show, Brock Lesnar was arguably the highest-profile coach in the history of TUF.

After losing his UFC heavyweight title to Cain Velasquez in late 2010, the former WWE star agreed to coach the 13th season against Junior dos Santos, with the idea being that they would fight in a No.1 contender’s fight when all was said and done.

However, not only did Lesnar’s fight with ‘JDS’ never happen due to the return of his diverticulitis, but his time as a coach didn’t exactly work out, either.

Lesnar appeared to be distant from his fighters from the off, even missing a couple of the fights entirely, and was equally hands-off during the training sessions shown on television.

More shockingly, he managed to alienate many of his team by claiming that he’d “made chicken salad from chicken sh*t” when his fighter Chris Cope was able to defeat his opponent, despite quickly trying to backtrack on the comment.

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One of Lesnar’s fighters – Tony Ferguson – did end up winning the show, putting a bit more shine on the job he did, but it’s still difficult to consider him a successful TUF coach overall.


#2. Ken Shamrock – TUF 3

Some fans considered Ken Shamrock's coaching methods to be outdated
Some fans considered Ken Shamrock's coaching methods to be outdated

Despite the season airing way back in 2006, it’s arguable that TUF 3 remains one of the highest watermarks for the reality show. Part of what made the season so entertaining was the coaching feud between bitter rivals Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock.

However, while Ortiz absolutely shone as a coach, and brought fighters like Michael Bisping and Kendall Grove on by leaps and bounds, the same could not be said for ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Man’.

Prior to the season airing, there were high hopes for Shamrock’s role as a coach. After all, his Lion’s Den team was one of the earliest examples of a true MMA camp during the sport’s infancy, and produced a number of successful fighters.

However, by 2006, not only were Shamrock’s methods outdated, but he also didn’t appear fully invested in the role, either.

‘The World’s Most Dangerous Man’ took a hands-off approach, not physically involving himself in training, and often gave his team too much time off, to the point that they were seen training themselves in the TUF house.

The result was that the majority of his team lost badly, with the lone exception being Ed Herman, who was heavily favored coming into the season.

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Shamrock entertained everyone with his feud with Ortiz and was clearly liked and respected by his team, but it’s probably fair to suggest that his coaching methods weren’t all that successful.


#1. Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson – TUF 7 & TUF 10

Rampage Jackson's two coaching stints on TUF didn't go so well
Rampage Jackson's two coaching stints on TUF didn't go so well

Right now, it feels like Conor McGregor simply can’t win a fight as a coach on TUF 31. However, he’s still got some way to match the poor performance of Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and his team on TUF 10.

Coaching the season against bitter rival Rashad Evans, Rampage’s team managed to lose all but one of the eight fights in the opening round, with only Marcus Jones advancing to the quarter-finals.

While this could’ve been put down to bad luck, at times it felt like the former UFC light-heavyweight champion wasn’t interested in coaching at all.

When his fighter Demico Rogers lost his bout, for instance, Rampage simply walked away from the scene, leaving Evans to console him.

At another point, he destroyed a door in the TUF gym after seeing his team suffer another loss. In essence, it seemed like he was simply there to further his feud with Evans.

Add in the fact that his first stint as a TUF coach, on season seven in 2008 wasn’t all that successful either – with just two of his eight fighters winning – and it’s fair to suggest that Rampage is the least successful of any coach on the series.

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Edited by Harvey Leonard
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