(Nam Phan vs. Mike Budnik. Props: eze32101)
No need for a lengthy preamble — you’ve already seen the first five minutes of the Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck season premiere, and you know how these things generally go down. We’ve got 28 lightweights, battling for 14 spots. Dana White addresses the troops, Bruce Leroy giggles with anticipation. It’s the elimination round, where the RFFs (real fucking fighters) are separated from the pretenders. Let’s get it.
Marc Stevens vs. TJ O’Brien
Stevens wrestled at the University of Buffalo when Josh Koscheck was the assistant wrestling coach there. Kos calls him an "okay wrestler." Stevens immediately lands a huge overhand right, then jackhammers O’Brien on the ground until the ref steps in. We later learn that the 13-second TKO is the fastest stoppage in TUF history. "Remember me now?" Stevens asks Koscheck.
Spencer Paige vs. Steve Magdaleno
Paige’s striking is as good as advertised, as he lands a mix of attacks in round 1. Magdaleno ends the round on top, working some ground-and-pound, but it might not be enough to steal the round. They start round 2 swinging for the fences before Paige starts blasting Magdaleno with knees. Magdaleno shoots on Paige and dumps him. Magdaleno looks for an arm triangle, then goes back to abusing Paige from the top. Magdaleno drops to guard when the action goes standing again, and possibly blows the fight, as Paige finishes strong with strikes from the top. Paige takes the unanimous decision.
Nam Phan vs. Mike Budnik
This is a Strikeforce Challengers-worthy fight. And we’re geting it on basic cable! Budnik with kicks to start, then a takedown. Budnik considers the heel hook. Phan looks for a sub, then gets up. Budnik shoots after some sloppy strikes, tries a judo toss, and drags Phan to the mat. Phan gets to his feet and eats an upkick. Budnik gets up and takes Phan down, but Phan escapes. They trade strikes. Phan lands a liver shot that crumples Budnik, and finishes him on the ground. Phan by TKO.
Lightning round montage #1…
– Andy Main def. Jason Brenton via triangle choke
– Jonathan Brookins def. Ran Weathers via decision, in a fight spent primarily on the mat.
– Sako Chivitchian def. Toby Grear via decision. Sako uses his judo to control the fight and get the judges’ nod, then barfs his guts out in the parking lot.
– Jeffrey Lentz def. Daniel Head via rear-naked choke. GSP had already crossed Lentz’s face out for some reason, but Lentz proved that he belonged there by smashing Head with vicious GnP and getting the tap in round 2. Total domination. Koscheck blows up GSP’s spot, telling Lentz that St. Pierre already counted him out. "I ain’t worried," Lentz says.
Paul "The Wheel" Barrow vs. Alex "Bruce Leroy" Caceres
Caceres comes out in a yellow-and-black bodysuit, in an obvious homage to Uma Thurman. Caceres starts with a kick and knee, then drops to a guillotine but can’t get it. He lands a clean head kick, but falls throwing a teep. Barrow clinches with him against the fence. Caceres reverses him and takes his back. Barrow escapes the first choke attempt, but Caceres jumps on his back and sinks it. Barrow goes out standing, falls backwards and taps. Dana loves the kid. ("He smiled the whole fight.") Caceres even convinces Josh Rosenthal to announce his name as "Bruce Leroy." You know, Josh, the word "gullible" doesn’t appear in the dictionary…
Lightning round montage #2…
– Michael Johnson def. Pablo Garza via decision, using his fierce ground-and-pound to rack up points. Kos calls him a contender.
– Aaron Wilkinson def. Michael Richman via decision. For a U.K. fighter, Wilkinson’s ground-game was impressive.
– Kyle Watson def. Joseph Duffy via rear-naked choke. Watson promises shenanigans in the house.
– Sevak Magakian def. JJ Ambrose via decision, after surviving a nasty kimura attempt. Two Armenians in the house? That could be trouble, bro.
Cody McKenzie vs. Amir Khillah
McKenzie is the world’s #2 guillotine choker. GSP goes out on a limb and tells Dana he’ll win by guillotine. Amir Killah wants to be the Michael Bisping of the Middle East. Cody works to lock up his signature submission, puts Killah to sleep, releases the hold, and explains to dumb-ass Mazzagatti that Killah is out. After the fight, McKenzie reveals the trick to his guillotine variation. If done correctly, no can defend.
Dane Sayers vs. Ariel Sexton
Sayers signals that he doesn’t want to touch gloves. There’s a reason for that. He starts the fight by throwing the most high-velocity flying knee since Bullock/Fulton. He tries a guillotine before settling into a brawling exchange with Sexton. "Somebody’s going to sleep," Dana predicts. Sayers is getting the worst of it. He works the fight to the ground and tries a rear-naked choke, but runs out of time. In round 2, Sexton slugs Sayers to the ground. Sayers looks shot out there, but he gets up and keeps fighting. It’s a great display of heart, and Dana and Kos cheer him on. He wraps up a guillotine, but loses it. Sayers jumps on Sexton’s back and locks up the rear-naked, tapping Sexton standing. Sayers collapses in exhaustion. Kos and Dana are geeked about him. Between Sayers, Caceres, and Charles Oliveira on the Fight Night show, that’s three standing rear-naked-choke submissions in one night. Jumping on dudes’ backs is so hot right now.
Teams will be picked on the next episode, and there’s a lot of talent to choose from. Later in the season, one of the Armenians goes after Bruce Leroy, Mike Tyson stops by, and Josh Koscheck puts his hand around the throat of a large team GSP associate. Interestingly, we never see Koscheck and GSP go at it, and they didn’t say much to each other on the first episode. It’s cool that St. Pierre is "above" the trash talk and macho posturing — but that doesn’t exactly make for good TV…