This past April, Toronto was the site of the largest event in UFC history, as more than 55,000 fans packed the Rogers Centre to see Georges St-Pierre and Jose Aldo defend their UFC titles.
The venue will be smaller when the UFC returns to Toronto this Saturday night for UFC 140, but there is still history to be made at the Air Canada Centre, with UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones defending his title against Lyoto Machida.
Before that confrontation takes place, three former TUF coaches and three TUF alumni will also step into the Octagon, and as fight week begins, it's time to meet the alums. We now present the TUF Times of Krzysztof Soszynski, Constantinos Philippou and Rich Attonito.
Nicknamed "The Polish Experiment," Krzysztof Soszynski lived up to his billing by trying anything he could think of to get under the skin of his TUF 8 opponents. It helped, however, that he knew how to back up his psychological warfare with his skills inside the Octagon.
Right from the get-go, Krzysztof showed that he was more than the average TUF prankster when he led Team Mir in shrink-wrapping Ryan Bader's underwear to his bed. The bed/underwear theme continued when it was Efrain Escudero's turn to fight, as Soszynski led his teammates in soaking and freezing Escudero's underwear and putting itching powder in his bed.
Of course, given that Bader and Escudero went on to win their respective weight classes, the pranks didn't exactly have their desired effect, but Soszynski made a fine showing for himself in his own right. He responded to Team Nogueira's prank with good humor, then went on to make short work of Kyle Kingsbury. The next round, however, proved a more difficult challenge, as he faced a friend and training partner from back home, Vinny Magalhaes, and Magalhaes was able to submit him with an armbar.
Soszynski returned at the finale to defeat Shane Primm with an armbar, the first of three straight UFC wins. After a tough loss to Brandon Vera at UFC 102, Soszynski traded wins with TUF 1 finalist Stephan Bonnar. After the pair of battles with Bonnar, K-Sos took on Goran Reljic, earning a unanimous decision win, and followed that up with beating Mike Massenzio. Massenzio was a late substitution for Igor Pokrajac, and K-Sos will get a second chance at that bout this Saturday night in Toronto.
The Best of Krzysztof Soszynski on The Ultimate Fighter
Krzysztof leads his team in a prank of Ryan Bader
Efrain Escudero gets the Soszynski treatment before his fight
Krzysztof shows he can take it as well as he dishes it out when Team Nogueira pranks him
"The Polish Experiment" produces good results against Kyle Kingsbury
Soszynski returns at the finale to take on Shane Primm
A native of Cyprus, Costantinos "Costa" Philippou started fighting as an amateur boxer, and left Greece for the United States in 2005. After switching gears to mixed martial arts, Philippou found a home at Season 4 winner Matt Serra's gym on Long Island. While he lost his first pro MMA fight, dropping a split decision to current UFC middleweight Ricardo Romero, the Serra protégé soon found his groove, winning his next five fights, with three victories by knockout and a fourth by submission.
That performance led to a spot on TUF 11, and an elimination fight matchup with Joe Henle. Philippou showed his strength in the fight, and appeared well on his way to a victory, but got caught in an armbar in the second round and was forced to tap out.
Philippou returned to the regional circuit, and scored two more wins, and got another chance in the Octagon facing Nick Catone. Philippou lost a unanimous decision, but his willingness to step up earned him another call. Philippou made the most of the opportunity, scoring a split decision victory over Jorge Rivera for his first UFC win. He'll try to make it two in a row on Saturday night when he takes on Jared Hamman.
The Best of Constantinos Philippou on The Ultimate Fighter
Attonito fought his way onto the show with a victory over Lyle Steffens, and was selected fourth overall as part of Team Liddell. As the Iceman's team went on an early run of victories, Attonito got the team its third straight win. In the midst of a scramble with veteran Kyacey Uscola, Attonito took a knee to the head that rendered him unable to continue. As the knee was illegal - Attonito was on the ground at the time - Uscola was disqualified, although the ruling was contested by both Tito Ortiz and Uscola himself. Attonito broke his hand in the fight with Uscola, ending his run in the competition.
He learned as much as he could while healing his injury, and was rewarded for his perseverance. While three other fighters all wanted to fight Team Ortiz pest Jamie Yager, it was Attonito who was chosen to face him, and Attonito scored a TKO victory, securing the right to continue in the UFC.
Attonito next earned unanimous decision over Rafael Natal, but his next effort, against David Branch, didn't go so well. Attonito made the cut to welterweight and got a victory his next time out, defeating Daniel Roberts in June. Now, he'll look to make it two in a row when he faces UFC newcomer Jake Hecht on Saturday night.
The Best of Rich Attonito on The Ultimate Fighter
Attonito fights his way onto the show against Lyle Steffens
Rich battles Kyacey Uscola in the third preliminary fight
After the battle with Uscola, Rich gets a look at the damage
Rich's win over Kyacey remains a sore subject when controversy erupts again
A healthy Attontito battles Jamie Yager at the season finale
So, which TUF alum are you most excited to see this weekend? Can Costa Philippou continue to make the most of his second chance in the Octagon? Will Krzysztof Soszynski win a third straight fight for the second time in his career? How far can Rich Attonito go at welterweight?
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