By Josh Stein on Jun 18, 2009
With the UFC finally choosing to organize a season composed of legitimate, true heavyweights for the Ultimate Fighter (something that they’re heavyweight division has been needing, desperate for recruits with legitimate small circuit experience), it may finally be a return to the years of solid Ultimate Fighter competition.
It’s not uncommon for me to watch the Ultimate Fighter for one fighter, or maybe two. I watched TUF 3 for Ed Herman, TUF 4 for Travis Lutter (in the cage) and Mikey Burnett (in the house) and TUF 5 for Joe Lauzon, but I know I’m not the only one who’s become disenchanted and, frankly, bored with the series lately.
Of course, the personalities (and you all know who I’m talking about) make for a great series that gets a lot of attention from casual, reality TV viewers. Zuffa may have come across a way to return credibility to the series among those who know the importance of using the series from recruiting, while bringing attention to the series through a single personality we can all see at the epicenter of all the drama: Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson.
The presence of Kimbo Slice in the house is going to be a catalyst for drama, and as he’s one of the oldest fighters there, it’ll be interesting to see how the fighters react to having him around. It should be noted that I’m not familiar with all of the heavyweight players going into this season of the Ultimate Fighter, but the one’s I am familiar with are worth pointing to, so here’s the scouting report, and hopefully it’ll demonstrate why I feel a reasonable amount of excitment with regard to this season.
Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson (3-1 MMA) 6’2, 235 lbs
One thing that will be clear throughout this scouting report is a single number: 265. As the only heavyweight on the show that I’m aware of who does not weight in as a true heavyweight, Kimbo Slice will have a lot to prove in terms of size, but he also has a lot to prove when it comes to removing the stigma of his loss to lightheavyweight Seth Petruzelli. Slice will be the target of most of the drama in the house, to be sure, and most of the people will have no problem talking about how much Kimbo sucks. Going through the Ultimate Fighter house is a lot like boxing, though, and so Kimbo should remember the gameplan: keep the head down, throw the shots when they show up and take your respect from the guy standing across the cage.
Marcus Jones (4-1 MMA) 6’6 (?), 265 lbs
While popularly listed at 260, Jones should really be listed at 265, as he is a true heavyweight, and though he cut below that weight in a publicized fight, the fact that he cut is what’s important. As a former NFL lineman (Jones played in college for UNC and then went on to six seasons with the Tamba Bay Buccaneers), expect Jones to be disciplined, but not extremely technical. Jones may very well be the best athlete in the house, but it’s hard to believe that he’ll be the most technical fighter, and he has to be careful not to skate by on his athleticism (though that gameplan has worked well for a few competitors in the past).
Scott Junk (6-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) 6’1, 265 lbs
Junk was expected by many (myself included) to be a solid prospect coming into the UFC, but lost in an unimpressive debut to Christian Wellisch. With heavy hands, Junk is definitely a fighter worth noting, though its hard to see him beating the top guys in the house (Roy Nelson or Wes Sims), it’s certainly possible that he could put to sleep fighters who lack the technical savvy to stay away from his hands. He should be exciting to watch, win or lose.
Roy Nelson (13-4 MMA) 6’0, 265 lbs
Of all of the names on this list, Nelson sticks out the most. While Kimbo Slice will be a target for some drama, Nelson is a warrior with a reputation that may garner him some of the attention from the other castmates. Nelson is the heavy favorite (no pun intended) stepping into the house, having almost submitted Andrei Arlovski and lost tight decisions to Jeff Monson and Ben Rothwell. It’s not really clear why Nelson isn’t going straight to the UFC, but hopefully Big Country will develop his fanbase on the show.
Wes Sims (21-11-2-1 MMA, 0-3 UFC) 6’10, 265 lbs
Wes Sims seems to be the most notable UFC veteran stepping into the house this season (Mike Wessel, who does not appear in this article, but will be on the show, appeared recently in the UFC, losing to Antoni Hardonk), having faced UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir twice, losing by DQ at UFC 43 and then losing in a rematch by KO at UFC 46. Sims then faced Mike Kyle, who knocked Sims out. Sims is one of the tallest heavyweights in the world at 6’10, but is hardly a beanpole. He will be one of the most experienced fighters in the house and should emerge as a target for many, because of his height. Still, he’s a dangerous guy, and will earn respect with his hands and wrestling ability.
Justin Wren (6-1 MMA) 6’2, 265 lbs
At 22 years old, Wren will almost certainly be the youngest fighter in the house. A student of Travis Lutter, he has solid jiu-jitsu for a heavyweight, as well as good wrestling and the ability to deliver power from the top, as well as on his feet. Like most true heavyweights, he’s not used to fighting guys his own size, but hopefully his youth will help him to develop quickly on the show and having training partners as big and as powerful as he is will help him adjust and succeed against big, solid fighters. He’s also, despite his age, got more experience than many fighters in the house.
Jim York (10-2 MMA) 6’1, 265 lbs
It may not be a stretch to call Big Jim York the X-Factor in the Ultimate Fighter house this season, given that he disposed of a mildly respectable heavyweight in James Thompson in a single round (for those who don’t remember, it took Kimbo three rounds, and he almost got knocked out once). His only recent loss is to the well respected Japanese warrior Yoshihiro Nakao. The Kiwi, York, has been well versed in the kickboxing tradition that many of his countryman have demonstrated, and hopefully will have a chin that’s respectable. York presents a problem for everyone in the house, perhaps even Nelson and Sims, and should make for an interesting player in a pretty tough season.
True heavyweight refers to fighters who cut weight to make the 265 pound heavyweight limit.
Filed Under: MMA
About the Author: Joshua Stein is a writer and editor for MMA Opinion. He has worked as a photographer and journalist and has a number of print journalism credits. He also works as a moderator for MMAForum.com and a grappling columnist (covering judo, collegiate wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and submission grappling) for profighting-fans.com.