In March 2010, Tavares was announced as part of the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. In the elimination round, Tavares defeated Jordan Smith via KO (knee) after less than a minute. He was selected fifth by Team Liddell and tenth overall.
Tavares then defeated James Hammortree in the second preliminary fight. After two rounds, the fight was declared a draw and the fighters went to a third round. Tavares took control in the third round and was declared the winner, advancing him into the quarter finals.
In the quarter-finals, Tavares fought Seth Baczynski. As the first round ended, Baczynski threw an illegal soccer kick to the head of Tavares. Baczynski immediately apologized, knowing he could have seriously hurt Tavares, who went to his corner and slumped. After discussing the matter with the doctors, Herb Dean stopped the fight and Tavares was declared the winner by disqualification, advancing him to the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals, Tavares faced teammate Court McGee, for a place in the live final. After a fairly even first two rounds, Tavares was rocked late in the third. McGee then locked in a rear naked choke, handing Tavares his first loss.