Top 5 Highest Profile TUF Coaches


We are a few weeks into the new season of The Ultimate Fighter and it got me thinking – one of the focal points of every season always seems to be the coaches (except when Kimbo Slice was a contestant, of course). Since most of the fighters are either up-and-comers or veterans stuck in the local circuits with the exception of season 4, I can understand why that is the case especially when it comes to the casual fan. As for the coaches, many fans base their perception of the coaches’ ability on their profile as a fighter and not so much on their actual ability to coach. We know from history that the best player in the sport does not necessarily make the best coach. Wayne Gretzky, Diego Maradona, Isiah Thomas, and Ted Williams just to name a few. From a student’s perspective, it is an exciting feeling to know that you will be coached by a mentor or someone with a successful profile as you will try to mimic their success. With that said, let’s take a look some of the highest profile coaches when they were on TUF.

5 – Georges “Rush” St. Pierre

Season Involvement Profile on show
TUF 4: The Comeback Guest Coach Welterweight #1 Contender
TUF 12: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck Head Coach Welterweight Champion

GSP first guest coached on the 4th season as #1 contender opposite to then welterweight champ, Matt Hughes but this was just the beginning. He would go on to take the belt from Hughes and defend it 4 times before making his head coaching debut on TUF season 12 as the welterweight champ. By this time, he has established himself as one of the most well rounded fighter, biggest PPV seller, dominant champion, face of MMA globally and a future hall of famer.

4 – Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira

Season Involvement Profile on show
TUF 8: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir Head Coach Interim Heavyweight Champion
TUF 16: Brazil Guest Coach Former Pride and UFC Champion

Minotauro was one of the biggest names to come from Pride Fighting Championship to the UFC. After defeatingTop 5 Highest Profile TUF Coaches

Tim Silvia for the Interim Heavyweight belt, he was summoned to head coach in TUF season 8 against his next challenger, Frank Mir. Other than being a current UFC champ at that time, his resume also included two-time Pride Heavyweight champ as well as a successful history of submission grappling at Brazillian and Pan-American grappling tournaments. Moving forward to the inaugural TUF Brazil, Big Nog was invited to the show as a guest coach. Given his background, anyone would be excited to train with him but since it was in Brazil, his presence on the show was even bigger.

3 – Matt Hughes

Season Involvement Profile on show
TUF 2 Head Coach Welterweight Champion
TUF 4: The Comeback Guest Coach Welterweight Champion
TUF 5 Guest Coach Former Champion
TUF 6: Team Hughes vs. Team Serra Head Coach Welterweight #1 Contender
TUF 13: Team Lesnar vs. Team dos Santos Guest Coach Hall of Famer

In TUF season 2, which was the only season that had coaches from two different weight classes and had coaches that would not face each other at the conclusion of the show, Matt Hughes was a head coach that carried a status of current Welterweight champ. He would go on to carry that same profile into season 4 as guest coach. Aside from being two-time UFC champ, he was also known for his extensive history in NCAA amateur wrestling having been on the All-American team twice. In season 6, he was, once again, a head coach but this time as the #1 contender for Matt Serra’s Welterweight belt. Hughes would go on to make one more appearance as guest coach for his good friend, Brock Lesnar, in season 13. By this time, he was a UFC Hall of Famer and a record holder of the most wins in the UFC.

2 – Chuck “the Iceman” Liddell

Season Involvement Profile on show
TUF 1 Head Coach Light Heavyweight #1 Contender
TUF 4: The Comeback Guest Coach Light Heavyweight Champion
TUF 11: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz Head Coach Hall of Famer

When the UFC started with TUF, it was a complete new venture and they knew they had to pull all the punches so they needed a couple of high profile head coaches. One of those was Chuck Liddell who coached the season as the #1 contender to the Light Heavyweight title. Prior to the UFC, Liddell had a successful kickboxing career in the IKF, WKA and USMTA where he won championships for each of those associations. He returned to TUF season 4 as a guest coach and the Light Heavyweight champ at that time having defended his title 3 times in devastating fashion. In his last stint as head coach on TUF season 11, not only was he a revolutionary fighter who used his wrestling to keep the fight standing to knock his opponents senseless but a Hall of Famer as well. He is also credited with bringing MMA into the mainstream of American sports and pop culture.

1 – Randy “The Natural” Couture

Season Involvement Profile on show
TUF 1 Head Coach Light Heavyweight Champion
TUF 4: The Comeback Guest Coach Hall of Famer
TUF 5 Guest Coach Heavyweight Champion

As mentioned above, in the first TUF season, the UFC needed high profile head coaches and one of the biggest stars in the sport at that time was then Light Heavyweight champ, Randy Couture. By then, his resume was unmatched. He was the UFC 13 Heavyweight Tournament winner, two-time Heavyweight champ, and two-time Light Heavyweight champ. On top of that, he had a successful record in NCAA collegiate wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling. During his brief retirement, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame and would make a guest coaching appearance on TUF season 4. Couture would return to competition and defeat Tim Silvia to re-capture the Heavyweight title for the third time. Soon after, he would make another guest coaching appearance on TUF season 5 on Team Penn. Like Liddell, he was also credited with bringing the spotlight to MMA.

Honorable Mentions: Rich “Ace” Franklin, Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz, Wanderlei “The Ax Murderer” Silva

Share this article

Leave a comment