– Peter Parsons (photo courtesy of theultimatefighter.tv)
Photo: Sammy Morgan (courtesy of theultimatefighter.tv)
On August 22nd, the second season of The Ultimate Fighter premiered on SpikeTV. In the first episode, we were introduced to this season’s contestants and we quickly saw two fighters quit the show without even stepping in the cage, which leaves us to ponder which fighters are the real deal. Tonight’s show is set to feature a welterweight showdown, which gives me the opportunity to shed some light on the top welterweight contenders.
Sammy Morgan – Pro Record: 15-5, Amateur Record: 2-0
This 23 year old Minnesota native has only went the distance once in his career. Sammy holds an arm bar submission victory over UFC and Pride veteran Aaron Riley in a Shooto USA bout in 2003. Most of Sammy’s wins have come by way of submission, but he proved in his most recent bout that he is also a dangerous striker knocking out UFC and K-1 veteran Duane “Bang” Ludwig on Ludwig’s home turf at the Ring of Fire 16 event in Colorado.
Jorge Gurgel – Pro Record: 9-1
Jorge has been UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin’s Jiu-Jitsu coach for the last few years. This Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert has 8 submission victories out of his 9 pro wins. Jorge has by far the best jiu-jitsu out of any fighter on the show. The one knock on Jorge may be his size. Jorge has fought at 155 for most of his career and will be considered a small welterweight. Jorge should go far in this competition, but also look for Jorge to be a major title threat when the UFC brings back their 155 pound division.
Joe Stevenson – Pro Record: 22-5
Joe has been competing in MMA since he was 16 years old. In fact his first MMA loss was a KO loss to former UFC Lightweight champion Jens Pulver at the Bas Rutten Invitational 3 event back in 1999 only 11 days after his 17th birthday. Joe has notable victories over UFC veterans Edwin Dewees and Jeremy Jackson which came in the Gladiator Challenge and King of the Cage events respectively. At 23 years of age, Joe has a wealth of MMA experience and is currently on an 8 fight winning streak winning all 8 by way of knockout or submission.
Josh Burkman – Pro Record: 4-2, Am Record: 9-1
What would a TUF contenders list be without a Team Quest member? This 25 year old built up a good amateur record fighting in his native Salt Lake City, Utah. Josh is a 3-time veteran of teammate Matt Lindland’s Sport Fight promotion. His highest profile fight was his most recent submission loss to current UFC Light Heavyweight contender Jeremy Horn at the X Fighting Championships event. This fight took place at 185 where Josh has fought most of his career. Josh will be a big welterweight at 170.
*Records taken from FCFighter.com
Only time will tell which of the aforementioned fighters, if any, have what it takes to be the next Diego Sanchez. Sammy Morgan, Jorge Gurgel, Joe Stevenson and Josh Burkman are who I believe has the best chance of winning the TUF 2 welterweight division and walking away with a 6 figure UFC contract.