Tampa MMA fighter Paul Barrow to compete on The Ultimate Fighter season 12

"I felt honored to be able to follow in his [Arroyo's] footsteps," said Barrow. "There definitely was a lot of pressure because a lot of my friends have been very successful on the show before."

Hailing from the MMA school Gracie Tampa may have indeed added some pressure to Barrow's expected performance since the school has already produced eight UFC fighters, which is no small feat by any means. Although Arroyo was cut from the UFC after his second loss at UFC 94 in Jan. 2009 he has since focused on passing on his impressive jiu jitsu skills to Barrow and his other students at Gracie Tampa South. It goes without saying that being a TUF alumnus and former UFC fighters is the equivalent of earning a Harvard degree in the real world. It's something that no one can ever take away from you.

"My ultimate goal has always been to finish school," said Barrow. "It [fighting] has definitely been a close second. I love fighting and would like to continue with it for the rest of my life."

You can watch Barrow on the season premiere of TUF 12 on Spike TV Sept.15 at 10 p.m. ET where he will try to make it onto either Coach George St. Pierre's or Coach Josh Koscheck's team.

Complete TUF 12 cast.

After about a year of training mixed martial artist Paul Barrow has achieved something most other fighters only dream of. He made it onto the MMA reality show The Ultimate Fighter for season 12, where lightweight fighters will compete for the holy grail of MMA: a much coveted contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

While Barrow's talent for the sport is undeniable he also happened to be in the right place at the right time. As fate would have it he crossed paths with TUF 6 alumnus, Matt Arroyo, at the University of Tampa who introduced him to MMA and put him on the fast track to success.

"I am sure me knowing Matt didn't hurt my chance of getting on TUF 12," said Barrow. "But I really worked hard over the last year to get to where I am now."

Not only did Barrow work hard, he took the Tampa MMA scene by storm going undefeated in his first three fights before suffering his first loss at the hands of Michael Byrnes at RFC 21 last July. His fast rise to local stardom after his first two wins prompted his quest for bigger and better things in the MMA world. Naturally, the TUF 12 tryouts earlier this year were the perfect opportunity to evaluate Barrow's skills on a national level. Not surprisingly Barrow's training under Aorroyo's tutelage paid off as he did well enough to make it onto the show for the first elimination round, just like his coach did a few years ago.

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