Last week was fast and furious in the UFC with the TUF Nations Finale and Fabricio Werdum swallowing Travis Browne's soul on Fox. So you are forgiven if you failed to make note of the premiere of season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter. That's right folks, it's time to once again bear witness to the fitness of the modern warriah. Boom. (And yes, I know they don't use that theme anymore, but no, I don't care. Like the Gladiator intro, it will live forever in my eyes.) This time, it's Frankie Edgar and B.J. Penn leading the troops, along with some support from a very motley crew of assistant coaches including Mark Coleman, Renzo Gracie, and Ricardo Almeida. Maybe it's the reality show fan in me (yep, I still watch Survivor), but I remain at least somewhat interested in TUF, even after all these seasons. So this season, I'll be your TUF guide here at Bloody Elbow, with weekly discussion posts and recaps. Are you going to let me bang bro?
EPISODE 1 (The one where everyone fights but very few make a big impression)
So we're back to the elimination format this time, which means a lot of fights. And this season, a lot of those fights went kind of long, which means a lot of clips of fights. We'll borrow a page from the UFC themselves and just go with the highlights, namely:
- Probably the most interesting part of the show was the inclusion of former Bellator champion Lyman Good. Good is the first ever Bellator Welterweight champ, and here he took a shot at the UFC Middleweight division. And was promptly wrestled to death by the 2-0 (4-0?) Ian Stephens. Ouch. Now, it's true that this was not Good's regular weight class, and that he has not been a champ in Bellator for over 3 years, but this was a bad look for Bellator to be sure, and the UFC production crew milked it for all it was worth, totally burying Bellator along the way.
- Also, I love how Stephens, after the fight, came over to Dana White to gloat about the win and tell him that Bellator champs have no place in the UFC. Dana's predictable response: "I like this kid." Savvy move from Stephens.
- Daniel Spohn looked impressive with his big KO of Tyler King, and I quite liked what we saw of Dhiego Lima along with Anton Berzin. I thought Serra-Longo product Eddie Gordon looked good in the clips we saw, and Penn was high on him, but the fact that he got picked 5th out of 8 doesn't speak all that well.
- Speaking of pick order, Ireland's Cathal Pendred didn't get to fight because of his opponents having injuries or missing weight, so he earned a bye into the house. Which means, again, that the coaches did not see him fight. At all. And yet Penn still picked him over Hector Urbina and Roger Zapata. Sucks for those guys.
- Not only did Penn pick Pendred, he chose him to fight first for Team Penn, taking on Team Edgar's Urbina. That seems like a very uneducated "Let's just throw something at the dart board" kind of pick, but who am I to judge?
- Doug Sparks thinks he is a polar bear and wears cute little polar bear ears at all times. He lost, so no more polar bear for us this season. I am still debating if I am happy or let down about this.
- Saddest fighter of the night award goes to Jake Heun. Heun tried out for the Jones vs. Sonnen season, but lost to get into the house against Adam Cella (victim of the famous Uriah Hall spin kick KO). He got a 2nd shot here, dominated Todd Monaghan, looked on the cusp of getting the stoppage... then left his arm in and got armbarred out of nowhere. This was sad.
- Very little interaction between the coaches yet, and no drinking or door smashing, so as far as I'm concerned, this season is not yet really underway.
Finally, quick prediction for Wednesday night's match-up between Team Penn's Cathal Pendred (13-2-1) and Team Edgar's Hector Urbina (16-8-1).
As I said, we didn't see Pendred fight on the show, but Urbina showed an OK wrestling game and a lot of determination in that game, doggedly fighting for a takedown and then transitioning to a successful choke. Despite getting the finish, I thought he looked pretty raw and sloppy in places. There's plenty of fight footage online of Pendred, and those videos show him to be a pretty similar fighter - a wrestler first and foremost who will shoot in, ground his opponent, and go for the ground and pound win. He also has pretty poor striking defense, but so does Urbina (and Urbina is probably not an explosive enough striker to take advantage.) Both of these guys have solid experience. Pendred has wins over David Bielkheden, Bruno Carvalho, and the one and only Che Mills. Urbina, an ATT fighter, has fought the likes of Lyman Good (back at Bellator 2), Mayhem Miller, and Tim Kennedy, but he doesn't have much in the way of notable wins. Head to head, this will be a matter of who is the better wrestler, and I like Pendred thanks to his superior technical skills and athleticism. Look for the Irishman to be more aggressive, put Urbina down and pound him out to put Team Penn up 1-0.
Join us Wednesday night to see some banging and to see if I am wrong, as usual.