MMA – The Ultimate Fighter Episode 1 Recap

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MMA: The Ultimate Fighter Episode 1 Recap

The 13th season of The Ultimate Fighter kicks off this year with an all welterweight cast. The two teams will be coached by recently dethroned heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and current contender Junior Dos Santos.

Here’s a quick back story on the show for those of you who aren’t familiar with it. It’s essentially a tournament consisting of 14 fighters split into two teams. Sometimes there are two different weight classes on the show; this season however they’ve chosen to focus only on welterweights. This season is also different in the fact that they changed the way you get onto the show. In recent seasons, they brought in twice the amount of fighters, and each man faced winning a single fight to get onto the show. Without having seen them fight, each coach chooses his team based on a single training session that they get to witness. After the initial bout, the winning teams coach gets to choose the matchup for the next fight that will take place in the upcoming week.

Needless to say, winning is the key to controlling how each coach wants this season to turn out, and you can tell it’s a matter of pride for these guys to be in control of each matchup and to pick the right opponent for his fighters. There’s also a fair amount of drama from time to time, but what do you expect when you take 14 naturally aggressive strangers and force them to live and train together for six weeks? Another fun point is that the coaches are always scheduled to fight each other some point following the filming of the show.

This episode kicks off with the fighters entering the UFC training center, and being introduced to their coaches and getting acquainted with the format of the fights. Dana White announces that they’ll be using a ‘wildcard’ again this year. The wildcard is a second chance given to one of the losing fighters after the first round of fights is completed. The winner of that wildcard will be chosen by the coaches based on who had the best effort and most potential despite losing once already. It’s a great incentive to behave in the house even if you lose because you still have a shot to advance.

As the training session begins, each coach uses his own assistant coaches to help put the fighters through conditioning drills and standard sparring to get a sample of what each fighter may be able to do. On the side, Brock Lesnar actually begins asking personal questions to each fighter to get to know them on another level, and immediately that’s a huge advantage to him given Junior Dos Santos’ language barrier. Dos Santos identifies Shamar Bailey and Ryan McGillivray as the best looking fighters to him.

The coaches meet with White to pick teams and Lesnar wins the coin toss. He can either choose the first fight matchup or the first fighter. He chooses the first fighter, and he picks Len Bentley. Dos Santos’ first selection turns out to be one of his original favorites, Shamar Bailey. Here’s how the teams shape up.

Team Lesnar:

Len Bentley, Charlie Rader, Tony Ferguson, Clay Harvison, Miles Jury (replaced by Chuck O’Neil), Chris Cope, Nordin Asrih.

Team Dos Santos:

Shamar Bailey, Ryan McGillivray, Javier Torres, Ramsey Nijem, Zach Davis, Mick Bowman, Keon Caldwell.

Caldwell, the last pick, discusses how he’s at a disadvantage being the least-wanted fighter and how he has to prove himself. The teams then get settled in and begin their training sessions with their new coaches. Afterward, Dos Santos will pick the first fight matchup.

During Lesner’s first training session, he finds out that one of his most talented fighters Miles Jury suffered a completely torn ACL and other injuries to his knee during the initial training session on day one. Jury is pretty disappointed as he finds out he’s got to go home, but White explains that he’s still on the UFC’s radar due to his age and golden record. Jury is replaced by Chuck O’Neil, a little-known fighter who made it to the casting process but wasn’t chosen to compete.

Dos Santos announces that the first matchup will be between his top overall pick Shamar Bailey and Lesner’s final choice Nordin Asrih. As the fight begins, Nordin explains in his German accent “I likes to hit the people, you know?” Well… he didn’t do much of that in this fight. When the bell sounded, Shamar immediately got a takedown and looked to establish dominant position and did so fairly easily. Nordin looked overwhelmed on the ground but managed to get up, only to be taken down again.

Bailey spends the entire round holding Asrih down and didn’t really inflict any significant damage. Surely he won the round though and that’s all that counts. The second round started with Asrih missing a ridiculous kick, and Bailey gained top position once again. Bailey spent the entire round switching between full mount and having Asrih’s back to take another lopsided round in his favor.

Easy victory for Team Dos Santos and they move up 1-0 over Team Lesnar. Dos Santos will choose the next matchup and will continue to do so until his team loses a match. Stay tuned.

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