The list of famous and infamous fighters who made their way into the UFC through 'The Ultimate Fighter' is a long as it is esteemed. Former champions, numerous top contenders and other noteworthy figures have all used the reality show as a launching point for their careers.
Perhaps as interesting, however, is the list of now noteworthy fighters who weren't selected as part of any season's cast despite trying out. Count former Strikeforce fighter turned UFC middleweight Lorenz Larkin as one of them.
Larkin, who makes his UFC debut on Saturday against Francis Carmont at UFC on FOX 7, revealed to Ariel Helwani he tried out for the show to be on the season 11 cast with Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, but never even made it past the first round of tryouts.
"I believe that was 2010 or early 2011," Larkin said of trying out for the show to Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour. "It was back when they were going to have a 185 [pound] and 205 season and they kind of just canned it. They just did 185. They cancelled the 205 season."
According to Larkin, it wouldn't have mattered anyway. He acknowledges he didn't get past the first round of tryouts, which consists of "rolling", or submission grappling sparring. The upside, however, is Larkin was able to give UFC President Dana White a piece of his mind when he saw the UFC boss at a Fighters Summit while still signed to Strikeforce.
"It was cool because I got to tell Dana my whole little story about it. I saw him at the Fighters Summit. It was not last year. It was the year before that. I just pulled him aside. When I tried out, I didn't make it past the first round and this guy I knocked out in 40 seconds in my first pro fight made it on to the later interviews and things like that.
"Yeah, man. I was sour," Larkin recalled. And what did he say to the UFC head honco when he finally had him as an audience. "'I thought you were a dickhead'," Larkin admits. Larkin also confessed to White he had an attitude of 'F the UFC' when he found out not only had he not made it, but someone he had knocked out had.
"I was just mad. I told him I was just mad, but maybe it was for the best because it kind of lit a fire underneath my ass and I was just like 'I'm going to get there just though fighting'.
"It just made me say 'I'm going to fight and they're going to want to put me in the UFC'," he said.
Much to Larkin's delight, the path was a bit circuitous, but he ended up where he wanted. His first test in the UFC, however, is no pushover fight. Against Tri-Star's Carmont, Larkin is the betting underdog. He also hasn't competed since July of 2012. While Carmont's stand-up style is a form of fighting he prefers, there's a lot more pressure on him as an 'untested' Strikeforce talent rather than someone who has several UFC victories under their belt.
"To me, [Carmont]'s one of the top prospects that hasn't broken through to the top ten yet," Larkin observed. "He's on a four-fight win streak. He's on a seven-fight win streak including his fights out of the UFC. Yeah, he's doing good and he's doing what he needs to do to maintain his position as far as his status.
"I'm fighting against a real good guy," he said.
For Larkin, though, Saturday isn't just about establishing himself in the UFC middleweight division by getting past Carmont, although it is about that, too. Much more importantly, it's about capitalizing on the anger and frustration that being passed over on TUF has given him.
Against Carmont, he'll get his chance to prove UFC could pass on Larkin once, but they won't be able to do it twice.