The premiere episode of the newly re-branded Ultimate Fighter reality show – now called “TUF Live” and airing on the FX channel – featured a whole lot of fighting. Like, a whole hell of a lot. Thirty-two aspiring TUFers began tonight’s episode, which was broadcast live from the TUF Training Center in Las Vegas, and after sixteen bouts that field was cut in half. What you need to know: the coaches of the two teams are bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz and top contender Uriah Faber; $5,000 was the bounty for every submission and knockout; the bouts were scheduled for one five-minute round; and, Dana White’s first f-bomb came when he said “Make it the best f***ing five minutes of your life.” Here’s how all the fights went down:
For the first TUF Live fight ever, Joe Proctor and Jordan Rinaldi came out swinging hard and with bad intentions, and though it was even for the first half of the round, a caught kick had Proctor pouncing on an off-balance Rinaldi and sinking in the guillotine from top position. Rinaldi tapped at 2:08.
PRIDE veteran and jiu-jitsu black belt Christian Marcello and Eddie Bravo-trained Jared Carlsten was a pretty straight-forward example of someone knowing jiu-jitsu basics and one sucking at them.
Sam Sicilia played it smart and brought a stick of dynamite into the cage against Erin Beach, said stick of dynamite taking the form of a killer right hand that he detonated against Beach’s chin after only eight seconds had transpired in the bout. Beach was out, and was struggling against the referee when he regained his senses.
Chris Tickle came out swinging against Austin Lyons, and wasted no time rocking him with combo after combo until Lyons sank to his knees. Unfortunately, from the couch potato vantage point it seemed as if Lyons had more fight left in him, but referee Steve Mazzagatti deemed otherwise, and jumped in at the 24-second mark.
Can you win a decision ground-and-pounding from within a poorly-cinched triangle choke? In the case of Andy Ogle versus Brendan Weafer, we almost got an answer, as Ogle took his opponent down and spent four minutes delivering punches from above while Weafer struggled to tap him with a triangle choke. Ogle escaped, however, and a referee standup had Weafer going for a takedown and fighting a guillotine, so maybe we’ll never get our answer to the ground-and-pound-triangle thing. What we do know: Ogle took the unanimous decision.
Texan Cody Pfister wanted the fight on the ground, and that’s where he immediately took it. Unfortunately for him, adversary Vinc Pichel was every bit as skilled when it came to grappling, and after about three minutes of back-and-forth scrambling, Pichel find top position, dropped an elbow that opened up a monstrous cut on Pfister head, and spun into a rear naked choke that had the Texan tapping at 3:39.
Brit Mark Glover seemed pretty game when it was on the feet, but he had no fitting response to John Cofer’s wrestling attack – an attack that featured a bunch of takedowns and some uninspiring man-huggery when the duo was horizontal. Cofer took the decision; however, he did not impress.
Chris Saunders spent about a minute and a half total going for arm-in guillotines that did nothing but tire out his arms, but did Chris Hackett then capitalize on Saunders’ inevitable arm fatigue? No! Hackett inexplicably sought the clinch when he should’ve punched, and kicked when he should’ve done anything else. Saunders took the unanimous decision when it was all over.
To combat James Vick’s immense height and reach advantage, Dakota Cochrane sought the takedown like his life depended on it. Too bad Vick had a solid sprawl and a tricky D’Arce choke to counter it all. It truly was a stalemate, with neither really gaining much of an advantage over the other, so the judges must’ve awarded Vick the split decision based on a coin flip.
With a shot like a bolt of lightning, Michael Chiesa took Johnavan Vistante down, shimmied onto his back, flattened him out, and battered him with fists and elbows until Vistante exposed his neck. The choke, and subsequent tap out, came at 2:05.
Mike Rio was eating about three punches to the face for every one he landed, so he wisely took Ali Maclean down, where he was able to flex his wrestling muscle on an Irishman who was like a fish out of the water when it came to grappling. It wasn’t long before Rio had his foe’s back, and at the 3:32 mark, Maclean was tapping to a rear naked choke.
On paper, WEC vet James Krause should’ve killed Justin Lawrence. But Lawrence – who possessed blazing speed and an insane variety of strikes in his arsenal – hunted Krause down like an apex predator, picked him apart with machine-gun like kicks and punches, and sent Krause stunned to the canvas at 1:25.
Blending hard karate striking with solid wrestling and boundless aggression, Daron Cruickshank seemed to stay one step ahead of a very game Drew Dober, who himself appeared to be skilled in boxing and wrestling – just not skilled enough. For inflicting more damage and forcing Dober to constantly defend himself, Cruickshank took the unanimous decision.
In the very back-and-forth fight, Jeremy Larsen and Jeff Smith spent just about the entire five-minute period threatening each other on the ground – Larsen with punishment from side-control in the latter half, Smith with a painfully-close leglock attempt in the earlier half. The judges gave it to Larsen when time expired, but it could’ve gone either way.
John Tuck sports some slick jiu-jitsu, and he used it to threaten Al Iaquinta when the bout began. But Iaquinta knows his way around a submission, and soon he was out of trouble and stinging his opponent with punches and kicks on the feet. To compound Tuck’s troubles, one of his toes broke in very gnarly fashion, so maybe the brief one-round limit was a blessing in that he didn’t have to fight too long with it.
In a very anti-climactic final bout, Akbarh Arreloa – of Team Knowing No Wrestling – found himself repeatedly getting taken down by Myles Jury, and it was in that realm that Arreloa went for fruitless submission attempts while Jury tried to ground and pound. It wasn’t thrilling in the least, but with Jury snagging the unanimous decision, we at least don’t have to worry about seeing Arreloa again.
-Joe Proctor def. Jordan Rinaldi via Submission (Guillotine) at 2:08
-Cristiano Marcello def. Jared Carlsten via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:43
-Sam Sicilia def. Erin Beach via KO (Punch) at :08
-Chris Tickle def. Austin Lyons via KO (Punches) at :24
-Andy Ogle def. Brendan Weafer via Unanimous Decision (10-9, 10-9, 10-9)
-Vinc Pichel def. Cody Pfister via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:39
-John Cofer def. Mark Glover via Unanimous Decision (10-9, 10-9, 10-9)
-Chris Saunders def. Chase Hackett via Unanimous Decision (10-9, 10-9, 10-9)
-James Vick def. Dakota Cochrane via Split Decision (10-9, 9-10, 10-9)
-Michael Chiesa def. Johnavan Vistante via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:05
-Mike Rio def. Ali Maclean via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:32
-Justin Lawrence def. James Krause via TKO (Punches) at 1:25
-Daron Cruickshank def. Drew Dober via Unanimous Decision (10-9, 10-9, 10-9)
-Jeremy Larsen def. Jeff Smith via Unanimous Decision (10-9, 10-9, 10-9)
-Al Iaqinta def. John Tuck via Unanimous Decision (10-9, 10-9, 10-9)
-Myles Jury def. Akbarh Arreloa via Unanimous Decision (10-9, 10-9, 10-9)