Tonight will mark the third episode of Spike TV’s hit reality series The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 2. Last week I separated the contenders from the pretenders in the welterweight division. With tonight’s show set to feature a heavyweight battle, below I have highlighted the top heavyweight contenders of TUF 2.
Keith Jardine (Team Franklin) – Professional Record: 8-1-1
Keith trains out of the Jackson Gaidojutsu fight team in Albuquerque, New Mexico with TUF season 1 middleweight winner Diego Sanchez, UFC fighter and 7 time King of Pancrase Nathan Marqardt and fellow TUF season 2 heavyweight Dan Christison. Keith’s only loss was to UFC veteran Travis Wiuff at Extreme Challenge 46 in February of 2002. With his base in grappling, Keith has also compiled a 3-0-1 pro boxing record. At 6’2 and 220 pounds Keith is a smaller heavyweight who will make up for his lack of size with his well rounded skill. Look for this 29 year old to go deep in this heavyweight competition; however Keith has the makings of a future champion in the UFC light heavyweight (205lbs) division.
Dan Christison (Team Hughes) – Pro Record: 7-3
This 33 year old takes the place of Kerry Schall as the elder statesman of TUF 2. Unlike Jackson Gaidojutsu teammate Keith Jardine, Dan is a big heavyweight at 6’8 and 270 pounds. In Dan’s second pro fight in 2002, he lost a decision to UFC Hall of Famer Dan Severn. In Christison’s second fight against Severn, he lost a split decision at King of the Cage 24 in 2003. Those two losses against Severn are the only two fights in which Dan has gone the distance in his career. All of his wins have come by way of knockout or submission. Dan is currently on a 5 fight win streak including 3 wins in 2005 against UFC veteran Andre Roberts, Team Miletich rising star Ben Rothwell and a very tough Super Heavyweight in Jimmy Ambritz.
Mike Whitehead (Team Hughes) – Pro Record: 9-4, Amateur Record: 2-1
Mike suffered 2 losses to current Miletich Fighting Systems (MFS) teammate and former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia at Superbrawl 24 back in 2002. This was a 16-man, 2-day, heavyweight tournament that featured some of the top up and coming heavyweights at the time. Whitehead lost in the opening round of the tournament to Sylvia by TKO. He then came back in the semi finals in Day 2 as an alternate to defeat another current MFS teammate in Ben Rothwell. This earned him a rematch against Tim Sylvia in the finals where he again lost by TKO. The tournament was Tim Sylvia’s coming out party that got him into the UFC and for the then 21 year old Mike Whitehead, it was an invaluable experience early in his pro career. Now at only 24 years of age, the 6’0, 255 pound MFS fighter is the youngest heavyweight on TUF 2. Mike is the best pure wrestler on the show and has a promising future in MMA. Mike is coming off of back to back wins against UFC veterans Aaron Brink and Travis Fulton.
Seth Petruzelli (Team Franklin) – Pro Record: 7-2
This 6’1, 235 pound Cape Coral Florida native was an all state high school wrestler and is a two time veteran of the K-1 event in Japan. Of note, Seth lost due to an elbow injury to K-1 celebrity and 350 pound behemoth Bob Sapp in a K-1 rules match in March of 2004. Seth’s last loss in MMA came at the hands of UFC and Pride veteran Gan “The Giant” McGee at the inaugural World Extreme Cage Fighting event back in June of 2001. Seth has won his last 6 MMA fights including his most recent unanimous decision victory over UFC legend Dan Severn at the King of the Cage 32 event in January of 2004. This was the only time the 26 year old went the distance in his professional fighting career.
*Records taken from FCFighter.com
After the last two episodes, this season of TUF promises lots of fireworks inside the octagon. It has left the fans of TUF 2 eagerly awaiting each show to see who survives and takes one step closer to winning the 6 figure UFC contract. Watch Keith Jardine, Dan Christison, Mike Whitehead and Seth Petruzelli each Monday night to see if they have what it takes to be the next Ultimate Fighter and win the TUF 2 Heavyweight competition.