Last night on the season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Bisping vs. Team Miller, 16 bantamweights and 16 featherweights entered the cold confines of the Mandalay Bay Events Center, fighting for a chance to become one of the last two Ultimate Fighter winners in Spike TV history. As promised, these little bastards came to bang. Only one of them had hair that you could describe as “crazy,” and even that dude looked like he could be an early front-runner.
As you already know, two-time TUF veteran Michael Bisping is coaching alongside cable TV personality/submission specialist Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Even on day one, while they’re both watching the elimination fights at cageside, Miller is already on Bisping’s nerves, although it’s not exactly clear why that is. It’ll take a very special man to penetrate Michael’s stony heart, and only he shall be known as the true king.
Anyway, 16 fights, two hours. Let’s run through it.
[Bantamweights] Josh Ferguson def. Casey Dyer via TKO, round 1. Dyer is a 21-year-old beanpole with a serious length advantage, but Ferguson boldly jabs his way inside, smashes Dyer down with a big right hand, and finishes it off with some ground-and-pound. Quick ‘n’ nasty. Josh Ferguson is the first guy officially in the house. Will his brother BJ be joining him?
[Featherweights] Diego Brandao def. Jesse Newell via KO, round 1. Brandao has a reputation as a knockout artist, but shoots for a takedown as soon as Newell starts landing on him. Brandao briefly takes his back. Newell gets out but Brandao clocks him with a looping left, following by a Hendo-style flying tomahawk punch. In just a minute of fighting, Newell’s face looks like roadkill. ”THAT’S THE FUCKING TUF!” Brandao shouts.
[BW] John Dodson def. Brandon Merkt via TKO, round 1. John Dodson is a tiny, tiny man, but my God is he fast. He whips in kicks and punches before Merkt can even react to them. Dodson lands a great body shot that crumbles Merkt, then a knee/punches blitz that finishes him. And just for fun, he executes a celebratory backflip off the cage. Dodson might be a little small for the weight, but he’s a future contender at 125. Not that I’d count him out on the show.
[FW] Dennis Bermudez def. Jimmie Rivera via TKO, round 2. Bermudez’s wrestling career was cut short by a pregnant girlfriend. Two years later, he finds out the kid isn’t his. He uses that rage to fuel him. But things look dicey in the beginning. Bermudez might be a good wrestler, but his striking defense leaves a lot to be desired. Rivera tees off on him in round one, and at one point it looks like Bermudez is flash-KO’d. Luckily he survives to the bell, and turns it around in round 2. Bermudez stumbles Rivera with strikes, rushes in with a knee, and takes Rivera’s back. Bermudez flattens Rivera out, and pounds the side of his head until the ref steps in. Great comeback win.
[BW] Roland Delorme def. BJ Ferguson via submission (triangle choke), round 1. Ferguson lands some punches, takes a nut shot, and shoots into a guillotine. He coverts the takedown and Delorme loses his hold. Delorme gets up, and uses a standing kimura to flip Ferguson to the mat. He switches to an armbar, and Ferguson scrambles to survive it, but then Delorme switches to a triangle and he ain’t getting out of that shit.
[FW] Marcus Brimage def. Bryson Wailehua-Hansen via TKO, round 2. Brimage throws his punches with bad motherfucking intentions. Hanson has the advantage for a while in the first round, taking Brimage’s back and working for the rear-naked. Brimage throws punches behind his head the whole time, trying to knock Hansen out; you gotta credit the man’s balls. He finally escapes, gets to his feet, and starts landing brutal shots on Hansen. Hansen is stunned, but keeps upright. It seems like Brimage might gas out trying to take Hansen’s head off his shoulders, but the bell saves them both. In round two, Brimage finishes what he started, slugging Hansen’s face until the ref calls a standing TKO. Arguably an early stoppage, considering that Hansen was still throwing punches when the fight was called, but the boy just wasn’t going to go down.
[BW] Johnny Bedford def. Carson Beebe via submission (neck crank/guillotine choke), round 1. Well damn, we already know how this one is going to end, if Beebe is on the supporting card of War Machine vs. Gideon Ray. Carson wants to step out of the shadow of his former WEC-champ brother, but it won’t happen today. Bedford scores a pair of takedowns early, and abuses Beebe against the fence. Beebe escapes and fights back, landing some punches, but Bedford fires back harder, landing a nasty inside hook from a clinch, then an elbow on the exit. Bedford stuns Beebe with a punch and knee and sinks the sub on the ground.
[BW] Dustin Pague def. Tateki Matsuda via majority decision. Matsuda is the 1st Japanese fighter in TUF history. Really, it’s taken 14 seasons? (What was Andy Wang, again?) Like Dodson, Matsuda might be small for the weight. But he’s from a Muay Thai background, and it shows. He seems to outstrike Pague handily in round 1, and does pretty well in the second, although Pague may have earned it with some wrestling and top control. Unfortunately, there’s no love for an Asian boy, and Pague gets the judges’ nod after two rounds. Kinda bullshit.
We switch into abridged highlight-mode for the next few fights…
[BW] Louis Gaudinot def. Paul McVeigh via TKO, round 3. Gaudinot is the dude with the Hermes Franca hair and Diego Sanchez face. McVeigh says he’s been kicking around as the #1 bantamweight in Europe, for whatever that’s worth. Michael Bisping takes a moment to tell us that Mayhem “looks like a cross between Josh Koscheck and a toilet brush with his current hairstyle.” After an evenly matched first round, Gaudinot comes alive in the second with a takedown and strikes. They go to sudden victory. Gaudinot pulls off a upside-down back elbow in the third — something Jon Jones or Urijah Faber might come up with — and starts laying into McVeigh. Gaudinot smashes McVeigh with elbows from the top, scoring a TKO and ending a crazy fight.
[FW] Bryan Caraway def. Eric Marriot via unanimous decision. Miesha Tate‘s boyfriend wins the first round on the basis of submission attempts, then lay-and-prays through the second. Okay, so they’re not all great fights. Of all the guys who advance into the house, Dana seems least impressed with Bryan — but he points out that if you can’t defend wrestling, you don’t belong here anyway.
[FW] Dustin Neace def. Josh Clopton via unanimous decision. Another questionable call from the judges. Bisping and DW thought Clopton win it. Clopton has himself a good cry afterwards.
[BW] TJ Dillashaw def. Matt Jaggers via TKO, round 1. Team Alpha Male product Dillashaw is aggressive, and a little wild with his striking. Dillashaw gets it to the ground and works some savage GnP. He scores mount, but Jaggers uses the fence to kick out. Dillashaw with a right hand, Jaggers with a body shot. Dillashaw shoots again and moves to side control, then mount again and more ground-and-pound. In the final seconds of the round, Dillashaw pours down some killer elbows. Jaggers loses consciousness just as the horn sounds.
[FW] Steven Siler def. Micah Miller via submission (guillotine choke), round 3. Cole Miller‘s brother is the most experienced guy in the pack, and he’s confident about his chances. (“I may not know who he is, but he knows who I am, and he knows he’s screwed,” Micah says.) Siler looks nervous, and Dana crosses off his name before the fight even starts. But it’s just a bad day for fighters with more-famous brothers. Despite his shook-ass demeanor, Siler came to fight, and in the third round, Miller shoots for a takedown and gets guillotined.
[BW] John Albert def. Orville Smith via submission (rear-naked choke), round 1. Albert spends the whole round looking for a finish on the ground, despite his corner’s pleas to keep it standing. He gets the finish, and everybody else looks like assholes.
[FW] Stephen Bass def. Karsten Lenjoint via submission (triangle choke), round 2. That’s pretty much all you need to know.
[FW] Akira Corassani def. Brian Pearman via TKO, round 1. Pearman starts out as the aggressor. He nails a takedown and looks for a d’arce choke on the ground. Corassani escapes and goes for the ten-finger guillotine, but loses it. After some dirty boxing, Corassani lands a spinning backfist and starts to gain momentum. Corassani uses Pearman’s head for target practice, but Pearman has a strong damn chin on him. Finally, Corassani finds his button and Pearman drops like a sack of pears, man. Akira celebrates by spraying water on Jason Miller.
All in all, the 16 fights resulted in eight knockouts, five submissions, and three decisions — and those three decisions all came after two rounds, so who knows what could have happened if they went to a third. Good show, all around. Dana tells the boys that he’s “overly impressed” with what he saw, and gives them props for producing some of the best fights on TUF, ever.
Coming up on this season of The Ultimate Fighter: Donkeys, mariachis, bug-eating, silly-string, naked men — and hopefully some fights, too!