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Fireworks from the start: Episode one of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’


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Welcome to another season of "The Ultimate Fighter," the last season of TUF on Spike. This season will feature Michael Bisping an Jason "Mayhem" Miller for coaches, and bantamweights and featherweights for the first time. After watching the elimination show, I am confident in saying that you shouldn't miss this season. Join me for a recap and spoilers, won't you? {YSP:MORE}

In one of the best openings the show has had yet, the fighters meet Dana White in the middle of the Octagon at the Mandalay Bay. White says that he wants the fighters to take it all in. If this setting doesn't make it real for the fighters, nothing will. The elimination bouts will take place there, so only fighters who win their first bout will even make it to the house and UFC training center. After explaining the fan-voted bonuses and introducing the coaches, White gives an expletive-laced but familiar pep talk.

With that, the elimination fights begin.

Josh Ferguson vs. Casey Dyer, bantamweight: Ferguson wasted little time overwhelming the much-taller Dyer with a bevy of strikes, getting the TKO in the first round.

Diego Brandao vs. Jesse Newell, featherweight: Newell started strong, but Brandao didn't let him get too comfortable. He knocked Newell down with a left and finished the fight with a flying forearm. Mayhem pointed out the similarity between that finish and when Dan Henderson finished Bisping.

After the first two bouts, White remarked, "This is going to be a nasty season."

John Dodson vs. Brandoon Merkt, bantamweight: Dodson used a bodyshot to wobble Merkt, then took him out with a flurry of strikes.

Three fights, three first-round finishes. Miller said that he feels like he should have bought a ticket to this. The next fighter, Dennis Bermudez said that his wrestling career was cut short when the woman in his life said she was pregnant with his child, who turned out not to be his. Is this Maury or TUF?

Dennis Bermudez vs. Jimmie Rivera, featherweight: Rivera knocked Bermudez down, and then used wrestling to control Bermudez for much of the first round. Rivera came close to a rear naked choke as the round ended. Bermudez took control in the second round, mounting Rivera's back and hammering his face with strikes until the fight was stopped. The good news for Rivera is that White and the coaches were impressed, which means he could be a replacement fighter if one is needed.

B.J. Ferguson vs. Roland Delorme, bantamweight: B.J. is the brother to Josh, who easily won his bout. Both fighters say that they are coming out to win, which is good. It would be disappointing if they were coming out to crochet White a sweater. Delorme showed off jiu-jitsu skills, transitioning from a deep armbar into a triangle choke until Ferguson passed out.

Marcus Brimage vs. Bryson Wailehua-Hansen, featherweight: Wailehua-Hansen said that he has extra drive because he's from Hawaii and island guys have to fight. I don't understand that but OK. Wailehua-Hansen had Brimage's back for much of the first round, but Brimage unloaded once he got out. He couldn't return many punches, but he withstood strike after strike, impressing White and the coaches.

In the second round, Brimage unloaded again and this time, the fight was stopped, but Wailehua-Hansen definitely made an impression on White.

Carson Beebe vs. Johnny Bedford, bantamweight: Beebe is the younger brother of Chase Beebe, the one-time WEC champ, and wants to get out of the shadow of his brother. Bedford outwrestled Beebe and controlled the standup before submitting him with a guillotine near the end of the first roound.

Dustin Pague vs. Tateki Matsuda, bantamweight: In the closest fight up to this point, Matsuda showed off his Muay Thai skills, while Pague had better ground fighting and defense. Pague won the majority decision, 19-19, 20-18, 20-18.

Paul McVeigh vs. Louis Gaudinot, bantamweight: Bisping knows McVeigh, a Scot, from the English fight scene. Gaudinot has a big mess of green hair. Their first round was back and forth, but Gaudinot and his green hair took over the second round with big takedowns. The fight went to a third and decisive round. Gaudinot threw a back elbow that wobbled and cut up McVeigh, who valiantly tried to go on, but it was too much. Gaudinot won the TKO.

Eric Marriott vs. Bryan Caraway, featherweight: Caraway rode out two rounds to get the win, but didn't impress White or the coaches.

Josh Clopton vs. Dustin Neace, featherweight: In what Bisping called an evenly matched bout, Clopton controlled most of the fight, thought Neace ended each round well. White and Bisping both though Clopton won, but the judges called it for Neace.

Matt Jaggers vs. TJ Dillashaw, bantamweight: Dillashaw, who trains with Urijah Faber at Alpha Male, and controlled the fight with takedowns and ground and pound, then finished Jaggers with elbows in the final seconds.

Steven Siler vs. Micah Miller, featherweight: Miller, Cole Miller's younger brother and a WEC vet, is confident walking into the bout. Siler started with better striking and got a takedown in the first round. He continued the strong striking in the second, but took Miller down and was nearly submitted. In the third, Siler guillotined a gassed Miller for the win.

John Albert vs. Orville Smith, bantamweight: Albert took the upper hand in striking, and then took down Smith to get a rear naked choke win.

Stephen Bass vs. Karsten Lenjoint, featherweight: White called it a back and forth war, until the second round when Bass submitted a tired Lenjoint with a triangle choke.

Brian Pearman vs. Akira Corassani, featherweight: Pearman is a dead ringer for Taylor Lautner. Corassani said that he uses fighting as his brush, as he is an artist. That  art involves big, violent elbows and punches as that's how he knocked out Pearman after almost getting submitted earlier in the round.

The final tally for the elimination round: eight knockouts, five submissions, and three decisions. White, Bisping and Mayhem are blown away with the talent.

"I'm overly impressed. Don't get big-headed and cocky, but I'm impressed," White said.

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