By Thomas Gerbasi
Even though Kimbo Slice and NFL veterans Marcus Jones, Matt Mitrione, Brendan Schaub, and Wes Shivers have received plenty of ink for their upcoming stints on the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter, for diehard fans, the presence of former UFC fighters Wes Sims, Mike Wessel, and Scott Junk on the show may be the most intriguing, as they look to fight their way back into the Octagon the hard way.
“Everybody’s gonna be gunning to win, it doesn’t matter who’s standing across from them,” said Sims. “I’m just prepared, and ready to beat somebody down.”
Nicknamed ‘The Project,” the 6 foot 10 Sims – a protégé of Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman – began his MMA career in 2001 with a decision loss to UFC Hall of Famer Dan Severn, but went on to win six of his next seven bouts, with one no contest. In 2003, he made his UFC debut against future heavyweight champion Frank Mir, but wound up losing their bizarre first fight via disqualification, and then got knocked out in a rematch seven months later.
Sims would only fight once more in the Octagon, getting knocked out in the first round by Mike Kyle at UFC 47 in 2004, but he stayed active, going 16-8-1 with 1 NC over the ensuing five years, all the while entertaining fans with his antics in and out of competition. Currently riding a three fight winning streak, the 29-year old Sims may just be hitting his physical prime at the perfect time for another run at UFC glory. Needless to say, Sims is certainly confident.
“My fans will love, my enemies will hate, and my family will forever be embarrassed,” he smiled. “I will be The Ultimate Fighter.”
A pro since 2005, when he made his pro debut with a submission loss to former heavyweight champ Ricco Rodriguez, Hilo, Hawaii native Scott Junk also holds the idea of fighting in the UFC close to his heart, saying “UFC is like the NFL, it's a dream to me,” before his Octagon debut in September of 2007. Before that bout, against Christian Wellisch at UFC 76, Junk had won six fights in a row, finishing all but one of them in the first round. But against Wellisch, it was Junk who was on the wrong end of a first round loss, as he was submitted via heel hook. A three round draw in a February bout against Lolohea Mahe followed, but all will be forgotten should Junk fight his way through the Ultimate Fighter field this season and make it to December’s finale.
Also in the same boat as Sims and Junk is Little Rock, Arkansas’ Mike “The Juggernaut” Wessel, an 8-1 banger and the former assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Unbeaten in his first eight pro bouts, the 31-year old was matched up with Antoni Hardonk in his UFC debut last December. Wessel was stopped by Hardonk in the second round, but up until the finish, he showed the type of heart and determination that will serve him well during his six weeks in the TUF house.