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The Ultimate Fighter’: Meet this season’s cast of TUF competitors

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Sam Morris

The Ultimate Fighter season 14 contestant Akira Corassani.

TUF 13 Finale

KSNV coverage of TUF 13 finale at the Palms, June 4, 2011.

It takes a lot to overshadow Michael Bisping and Jason “Mayhem” Miller.

Bisping and Miller are two of the most outspoken and polarizing figures in the UFC. They admitted to developing a hatred for each other as opposing coaches on the 14th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

But the two agreed that their rivalry on the show, which starts with its official cast of 16 fighters at 10 p.m. today on Spike, would play a background role to the competitors. Bisping deemed this season’s cast “incredible.”

“The fighters themselves were very dedicated, they worked very hard, they listened to everything I said and wanted to improve,” Bisping said. “They weren’t there for airtime. They were all real fighters.”

“TUF” is the UFC’s seven-year old reality show where fighters live in a Las Vegas house and compete for a $100,000 contract with the mixed martial arts promotion. In recent years, fans have complained that “TUF” has gotten worse because of a void of top-level talent.

Bisping and Miller said this season was different. That’s because it’s the first season to feature 135-pound and 145-pound fighters.

The UFC implemented the two new weight classes this year, meaning “TUF” could draw from a larger talent pool of bantamweights and featherweights than can be found in other classes that have been developed for years.

“They’re veterans, but they still have that hunger that’s perfect for ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ ” Miller said.

The UFC forced fighters to win a contest in an “elimination round” last week on the show to ensure their spot in the house. Filming wrapped up two months ago and will now air for the next 10 weeks leading up to a live finale on Dec. 3 at the Palms.

The card will feature the finals in the featherweight and bantamweight tournaments as well as a matchup between Bisping and Miller.

Click through below for an introduction to this season’s cast.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      John Albert

      Weight class: Bantamweight

      Age: 24

      Fights from: Puyallup, Wash.

      MMA record: 6-1

      Bio: The Reno-born fighter trains under UFC veteran Dennis Hallman. He won his way into the house with a submission victory, but would probably consider himself a striker at heart. Albert said he knew he wanted to become a professional fighter after taking his first hard punch. He walked away from a lucrative construction career to try professional MMA.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Stephen Bass

      Weight class: Featherweight

      Age: 28

      Fights from: Savannah, Ga.

      MMA record: 10-0

      Bio: “Bigfish” would have no problem if he’s portrayed as the token country boy on this season of “TUF.” He’s proud of his heritage, and all his professional bouts have been in regional promotions around the Southeast. Bass feels most comfortable boxing and turned professional four years ago.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Johnny Bedford

      Weight class: Bantamweight

      Age: 28

      Fights from: Watauga, Texas

      MMA record: 17-9-1

      Bio: Bedford thinks his experience advantage will take him far in this season’s “TUF.” He says he’s appeared in nearly 50 fights between his professional record and undocumented amateur career. But he did admit to entering the house with a sore hand.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Dennis Bermudez

      Weight class: Featherweight

      Age: 24

      Fights from: Massapequa, N.Y.

      MMA record: 7-2

      Bio: Bermudez walked away from a college wrestling career at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania when his girlfriend became pregnant. She later left him and, after raising the child for two years, he found out he wasn’t the father. That disappointment led him to mixed martial arts where he uses the experience as motivation.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Diego Brandao

      Weight class: Featherweight

      Age: 23

      Fights from: Albuquerque

      MMA record: 13-7

      Bio: The Manaus, Brazil, native has trained in Brazilian jujitsu since he was 9 years old. That led him to give MMA a try as he got older. He moved to New Mexico to train with famed coach Greg Jackson after meeting Donald Cerrone, a UFC lightweight who is one of the gym’s mainstays.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Marcus Brimage

      Weight class: Featherweight

      Age: 31

      MMA record: 3-1

      Fights from: Coconut Creek, Fla.

      Bio: He’s another guy from this season who trains at a well-known gym, as he works alongside notable UFC fighters Brian Bowles and Mike Brown at American Top Team. Brimage had an emphatic knockout victory over Bryson Wailehua-Hansen to get into the house. He’s originally from Birmingham, Ala., and a die-hard University of Alabama football fan.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Bryan Caraway

      Weight class: Featherweight

      Age: 26

      MMA record: 15-5

      Fights from: Sacramento, Calif.

      Bio: Caraway is the most recognizable name to make this season of “TUF.” He fought in the WEC twice in 2010, losing to notables Mark Hominick and Fredon Paixao. His girlfriend is one of the most famous female fighters in the world, Strikeforce 135-pound champion Miesha Tate. Caraway is a wrestler who’s always looking for the takedown.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Akira Corassani

      Weight class: Featherweight

      Age: 28

      MMA record: 9-3

      Fights from: Gothenburg, Sweden

      Bio: He considers himself a world traveler who is currently stationed at Renzo Gracie’s gym outside New York City. Corassani played soccer at a high-level academy in Sweden, but decided to follow his passion for kickboxing and martial arts. He was also formerly a vocalist in a hard rock band and a graphic designer.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Roland Delorme

      Weight class: Bantamweight

      Age: 27

      MMA record: 6-1

      Fights from: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

      Bio: Delorme impressed in the elimination round by finishing his opponent with a first-round submission. That’s typical of his game, as four of his six victories have come via submission. He previously owned and operated a restaurant in his hometown, but sold it before moving to Las Vegas for the show.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      T.J. Dillashaw

      Weight class: Bantamweight

      Age: 25

      Fighting out of: Sacramento, Calif.

      MMA record: 4-0

      Bio: Dillashaw trains alongside some of the world’s best bantamweights as a member of Urijah Faber’s “Team Alpha Male” in Northern California. He wrestled in college at Cal-State Fullerton and showed off his takedown ability in the elimination round before scoring a TKO victory over Matt Jaggers.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      John Dodson

      Weight class: Bantamweight

      Age: 26

      Fights from: Albuquerque

      MMA record: 11-5

      Bio: Dodson is a teammate of Branado’s at Greg Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque. Unlike most of the fighters at the gym, Dodson isn’t a newcomer and has been there for most of the past decade. He has also fought at 125 pounds. Dodson finished his elimination round opponent with a body shot in the first round.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Josh Ferguson

      Weight Class: Bantamweight

      Age: 22

      MMA Record: 7-3

      Fighting out of: Louisville, Ky.

      Bio: With three brothers and three sisters, Feruguson has a large and tight-knit family. One of his older brothers, B.J. Ferguson, was also invited to the show but lost in the elimination round to Delorme. Josh and B.J. said they would have been willing to fight each other for the show’s championship.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Louis Gaudinot

      Weight Class: Bantamweight

      Age: 26

      MMA Record: 5-1

      Fighting out of: Yonkers, N.Y.

      Bio: Win or lose, Gaudinot should make a name for himself during this season. He has an eccentric personality, best exemplified by his dyed-green long hair. Gaudinot was a criminal justice major at Seton Hall before dropping out to pursue fighting. He may have a size disadvantage, as his naturual weight class is 125 pounds.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Dustin Pague

      Weight Class: Bantamweight

      Age: 23

      MMA Record: 9-4

      Fighting out of: Centreville, Va.

      Bio: He won a controversial majority decision to get into the house, but his record shows he deserves the opportunity. Pague has won five straight, all with a stoppage. Six of his victories have come by submission and the other three were by knockout.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Dustin Neace

      Weight Class: Featherweight

      Age: 24

      MMA Record: 22-17-1

      Fighting out of: Granite City, Ill.

      Bio: It’s rare that a fighter with a record as marred as Neace’s gets a shot at the UFC, but the promotion saw something in “The Beast”. He’s a wrestler who has faced tough competition throughout his career. His most notable bout came in a Strikeforce loss to Jeff Curran.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Steven Siler

      Weight Class: Featherweight

      Age: 24

      MMA Record: 18-9

      Fighting out of: Ogden, Utah

      Bio: Siler is teammates with a couple of notable, recent “TUF” alumni. He trains alongside season 11 champion Court McGee and season 13 runner-up Ramsey Nijem. He’s gone 6-2 over the past two years with the losses coming to current UFC fighters Chad Mendes and Cole Escovedo.

    Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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