4. Forrest Griffin
As mentioned before, Ultimate Fighter 1 was one of the contributing factors in the rise of the UFC's popularity, mostly due to the light heavyweight finale which featured Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin. Griffin was 9-2 before appearing on TUF, his very first pro fight being a championship bout against MMA legend Dan Severn.
Griffin and Bonnar put on a helluva fight to grab the attention of fans and curious outsiders, putting eyes on the UFC and helping it grow in popularity. Griffin went 9-5 with the UFC over seven years, becoming light heavyweight champion at UFC 86 and fighting legends like Tito Oritz, Shogun Rua, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Rashad Evans, and Anderson Silva. Griffin retired in 2013 after injuries slowed down his career, was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his fight with Bonnar, and currently works as the vice president of the UFC Performance Institute.
3. Rashad Evans
Rashad Evans continued the trend of TUF winners becoming UFC champions when he won Ultimate Fighter 2, coached by Matt Hughes and Rich Franklin. Fighting for Team Franklin, Evans was a perfect 5-0 when he joined the show, beating Tom Murphy, Mike Whitehead, and Keith Jardine on his way to winning the heavyweight final against Brad Imes.
Evans would return to his natural weight class of light heavyweight and stay undefeated for three years on his way to winning the championship by knocking out Chuck Liddell and fellow TUF winner Forrest Griffin. After losing the title to Lyoto Machida, Evans would go on a four-fight win streak and challenge his old teammate Jon Jones for the belt. After the Jones loss, Evans would go 2-6 and end his UFC run on a five-fight skid before retiring in 2018. Evans was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2019 and would come out of retirement in 2022.