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TUF - Pick the Fight or The Fighter?

Posted by Mark Figula on September 30, 2010 at 9:32 PM

By Mark Figula, The Mouth of MMA Senior Editor

Calling all future coaches on The Ultimate Fighter... Do you want to succeed?  Then heed the history...

Last week, I did a feature entitled, "Wanna Win TUF? What Number Should you be Picked?"  Of course,  that statement is a bit speculative and not actually rooted in any real consequential data, but it does make for an interesting analysis.  A look at the win-loss record of coaches when they pick the fights, however, is very indicative of what might be an intelligent choice for the coaches of TUF.

It took some digging and it must be noted that, in the final count, fights were not included when they were arrived at by default (i.e. the last fight left in a season).  A season by season breakdown looks as follows:

  • Season 1:  Five of the fights were following coaches selections.  Dana picked the Leben - Koscheck match in episode six.  Of those five picks, the coach choosing the fight won four and lost one.
  • Season 2: Eight fights followed coaches selections with an even split of four wins and four losses for the coach who made the match.
  • Season 3: Out of eight matches made by coaches selection, five were won by said coach and three lost.
  • Season 4: This season didn't have a coach, per se, but the teams did each make picks.  There were six such fights in all with three going to the team making the selection and three against.
  • Season 5: Seven of the fights came out of coaches picks with five going the way the coach selected and two against.  An interesting side note, this is the only season of TUF in which one of the coaches never got to make a fight selection.  Although he lost two, Jens Pulver made all the fight selections.  One of the losses was the last fight of the season with nothing to pick after and the other choice was stripped from BJ Penn after Dana penalized him for kicking a fighter off his team.
  • Season 6: Seven fights came about from coaches selections with four going the way of the coachmaking the pick and three against.
  • Season 7: Like the season before, seven fights got matched up by coaches with five of them yielding the desired effect and two not.
  • Season 8: Again, seven matched made by coaches selection - four going the way the coach picked and three not working out.
  • Season 9: Four times, the coach making the match got his way, three times he didn't.
  • Season 10: This season was a coaches selection blowout with seven going to the coach's selection and only one against.  (Please note, the last fight of the season often is not included because it is left by default, however in this season Rashad announced both of the last fights at the same time and thus both are credited as coaches picks.)
  • Season 11: Six of the fights this season were selected by coaches with an even split of three for and three against.
  • Season 12: This season is underway as of this writing, but the coach making the pick is a perfect two and "oh" thus far.

All told, when picking a fight, that coach has a record of 50 and 28!  A .641 winning percentage will get you a playoff berth in pretty much any season of any league.  So, be on notice future coaches... When that coin toss goes your way, pick the first fight, not the first fighter!

[Note: Special thanks go to CrushCo from the SherDog forums for giving me the idea to dig into this.]


Mark "The Ezequiel" Figula is the biggest wuss to ever enter a cage... the most spindly chickenass dude to ever tap out at NAGA... the boy who was told that the pen is mightier than the sword... and thus he writes. Check out his home page of scribblings at


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1 Comment

Reply Nyla Cervantes
11:21 PM on September 30, 2010 
I've been screaming this to my TV for 6 years now! You don't even need the stats to know that strategically you give your entire team huge advantage by passing on the first pic.

And how much of a Gump was fuzz-head for biting on GSP's fake first pick? Oh man, I laughed so hard it hurt! Thanks for that Koscheck, ya dink!