So, The Ultimate Fighter is on, right? It's true - despite being lost in the waters of UFC 152, season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter got off to its more official start last Friday, with the first regular 1 hour episode of the season. The quick and dirty results is you must:
We'll talk more about that fight in a moment, but there was a whole episode leading up to it, and that episode had three basic storylines going (plus a slow burning "Mike Ricci is quiet and doesn't fit in" story to watch out for). Here's what the episode focused on:
1. Julian Lane vs. Matt Secor - No, that wasn't this week's fight, but you'd be excused if you only watched the first half and thought it was. As expected, Lane was in full on 12 year old imbecile mode here, starting the pranks early and generally just being a tool. Secor didn't help matters much either. These guys are two morons, and I dread their involvement this season. On the plus side, Ricci handled the flour prank quite well.
2. Roy Nelson vs. His Team - Already it's pretty clear that this season is being built in such a way to make Big Country the unlikable coach. It started with him squaring off with Dana (kind of) last week. This week, there was a lot of anti-Nelson sentiment coming from his team. Their issues stemmed from Nelson's relatively low-key training schedule, and his poor fight pick. I would caution anyone forming their opinion on Nelson here to be wary of the editing, as it is definitely painting Roy in a bad light, but then again, he's not doing himself many favors.
More, including a Neil Magny fighter profile and fight video, in the full entry.
For his part, Shane Carwin not only continued to show little personality, he basically handed the driver seat on his team over to Trevor Wittman, and made it clear that Wittman will be in charge all season, even going so far as to not corner Magney for the fight (Wittman and Nate Marquardt were his corner, which was kind of odd to see). I actually like this move. Let's be real, Carwin is not a trainer, while Wittman is. His guys will get more out of working with Wittman, leaving Carwin to just kind of tower over them on the sidelines. It won't make Carwin a big star, which is generally one of the goals of TUF, but I don't think that was happening here anyway.
3. Magny vs. Diffley - Ah yes, the actual fight. Magny took it with relative ease, though he did have a bit of trouble with Diffley's ground game late in round 1. But Magny was using superior movement to consistently outstrike Diffley over 10 minutes. In round 2, not much went on - although Dana and the other talking heads described the round as so clearly pro-Magney, I thought it was uneventful enough that I didn't get worked up one way or the other. Overall an easy win for Team Carwin, and a bad start to Team Nelson's run.
Now that Neil Magny has moved on to the round of 8, I'll end this recap with a more in-depth look at him, and see what his chances are for success, both on TUF, and in the UFC.
NEIL MAGNY (7-1)
25 years old | 6'2" | 80" reach
Magny is a product of the Miguel Torres MMA camp in Indiana. He's been a pro since 2010, but has been very active, putting together a 7-1 record in just two years. All of his fights prior to TUF came on the small regional circuit, with no notable opponents. Magney has shown himself to be well rounded so far, winning fights by TKO, submission, and decision. He's not a particularly fast starter, as he has never won a fight in the first round, though his lone loss did come via first round submission.
A few of his fights are available online, and below you can check out one of his strongest performances against Lawrence Dunning in 2010. Watching him fight, you see a nice all around game from Magny, with no areas of serious weakness. On the feet, he has good movement, and does an excellent job using his longer reach to his advantage, as he did against Diffley. He has very nice knees as well that he throws both from the clinch, and to the side of a downed opponent a la GSP vs. Matt Serra.
From a wrestling and grappling perspective, Magny has nice trip takedowns, and from top position on the ground, shows good skills. He's able to control his opponents well, land solid ground and pound, and employ a good submission game. Off his back he's less comfortable, as we saw against Diffley, though he did survive.
Overall, I like Magny quite a bit. He's clearly a talented fighter with a hard work ethic and strong skills both standing and on the mat. My big concern is his relative lack of experience - 8 fights sounds good, but he has not been tested against a tough level of opposition. I think he has a bright future in MMA, but he's still growing. I'll pick him to lose in the semi-finals this season, but again, I think he has the chance to end up being one of the season's better fighters in the long run.
Next week - Julian Lane is still a tool, but now it looks like Nic Herron-Webb might be a tool too! Get excited.
Neil Magney vs. Lawrence Dunning Video: