The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13: Team Lesnar vs. Team Dos Santos is officially on record with episode one: "Something to Prove," which I find to be an interesting title for the debut considering the history of both Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos.
Which coach will lead their team of welterweight prospects to the promised land and "prove" they're the true number one contender in the UFC's heavyweight division? We'll find out the answers to both questions in just a couple of months starting with the TUF 13 Live Finale on June 4 followed by UFC 131: "Lesnar vs. Dos Santos" on June 11.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Right now we've got 14 TUF contestants vying for a "six figure contract" and a one-way ticket to a UFC career. Unlike seasons past, there won't be any qualifying fights to gain entry into the TUF house so episode one is ready to get down to business with its finalized roster right from the get-go.
Our complete recap of TUF 13: "Team Lesnar vs. Team Dos Santos" after the jump.
The show kicks off in the TUF gym, where UFC President Dana White welcomes an eclectic group of up-and-coming fighters. Right off the bat you can see there is a nice mix of stateside and International fighters (and more than a few fashion faux pas).
I will say they appear fired up, hootin' and hollerin' after everything Dana says, including his announcement of the return of the wildcard. That leaves an opening for the eighth spot in the quarterfinals so an early exit isn't necessarily a permanent exit (depending on how you perform).
White introduces coaches Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos and the contestants are understandably starstruck; however, it's evaluation time which means it's time for them to get down to work.
Lesnar has his assistant coach put the group through a cardio evaluation so he can determine who's been working hard and who's been "sitting on the couch eating pizza for the last month."
On the other side of the gym, Dos Santos watches his group spar and work on their striking. One thing I noticed right away is how loosey-goosey "Cigano" is.
Junior looks like he's on vacation while Brock looks like he's just been audited.
Lesnar is also walking around with a clipboard taking notes and asking random questions. "Why are you here, buddy? You wanna be a TV star or a fighter?" He also asks his assistant, "I wonder if any of these guys are wrestlers?"
Surprised? Didn't think so.
So far the coaches' favorites are Len Bentley (Lesnar) and Shamar Bailey (Dos Santos). But will they get what they're looking for at the fighter selection?
Myles Jury gets a good look as well but then tweaks his knee during evaluations. He claims it's fine and just needs some "ice and rest" but that may be nothing more than wishful thinking.
Dana calls in the coaches and flips a coin to see who gets first pick. The choice is first fighter or first fight and Lesnar wins the toss and chooses first fighter. His goal is to get the best guys and if he can't, he tells the camera he'll have to "make chicken salad out of chicken shit."
Must be another one of those weird things they do on a ranch in Minnesota.
It's team selection time and Dana rallies the troops to hand out their assignments. As expected, Len Bentley and Shamar Bailey go number one in the opening round.
|Team Lesnar||Team Dos Santos|
|Len "The Liger" Bentley||Shamar Bailey|
|Charlie "Superstar" Rader||Ryan McGillivray|
|Anthony "El Cucuy" Ferguson||Javier "Chunty Boy" Torres|
|Clay Harvison||Ramsey Nijem|
|Myles "Fury" Jury||Zachary Davis|
|Chris "C-Murder" Cope
||Michael "Mick" Bowman|
|Nordin "Fist of Tangier" Asrih||Keon "The Black Assassin" Caldwell|
Following team selections, the contestants get wheeled back to the TUF house and kind of stumble around the perimeter like they just got off the mothership at the end of Close Encounters.
Rightfully so, as it's the kind of mansion that overpaid and underachieving bloggers like myself can only dream of living in.
Team Lesnar has shacked up in the second level while Team Dos Santos has laid claim to the downstairs quarters. The homecoming is short lived as the guys are right back in the gym the next morning.
First up is Team Dos Santos and Junior is happy to have the ability to pick first fight. He puts his guys through some drills and so far they seem to be a very cohesive unit.
On the other side is Team Lesnar and they're not off to a great start. Apparently the ol' ice and rest routine isn't going to help Myles Jury after all since the doctor informs him he's suffered a 100-percent tear of his ACL in addition to a tear of his lateral meniscus.
Needless to say the Doc's recommendation is to stay out of the cage and that's all Dana needs to hear before sending the injured fighter home.
Just like that.
That paves the way for Chuck O'Neil, who already knows a good portion of the team from the audition process and seamlessly integrates himself into the fold.
Time for the fight announcement and Junior's not messing around. He immediately calls on number one pick Shamar Bailey to dispose of Nordin Asrih, Lesnar's seventh and final pick.
Wrestler vs. Striker! (uh oh)
"Cigano" is trying to take the path of least resistance, but Charlie Rader thinks it was a bad pick because Asrih has a ton of experience and suffered from jet lag during the evaluations.
Both fighters talk the talk and Bailey, son of a pastor, whips out his bible back at the TUF house. Nordin happens to be a German-born Muslim so you can go ahead and throw another log on this fire.
Some more pre-fight trash talk but Asrih gets my vote for most entertaining: "Iv hee geeve me heeze back, I shoke heem out."
Elimination bout #1: Team Dos Santos' Shamar Bailey (10-3) vs. Team Lesnar's Nordin Asrih (15-5-1)
Round 1: Chandella in the house and she gets mad love from the peanut gallery. Mazz starts 'em off and Bailey goes right for the takedown. He nails it and Asrih has a guillotine but it's of no consequence. Shamar muscles him around and into side control.
Bailey looks incredibly powerful.
Asrih stays composed and twirls his way back to his feet but Bailey greets him with a knee to the face and another shot. He tries to defend but Bailey is just too strong and down they go. Despite his dominance on the ground (and Junior's reassuring Gude Shah-mar!) he's doing very little damage from the top.
He manages to land a few elbows as the clock winds down and the round ends with Nordin getting smothered.
Round 2: Bailey doesn't even need to expend any energy on the shot because Nordin opens with a wild high kick and loses his footing. Bailey seizes the opportunity and even manages full mount. Unfortunately he can't maintain it as Asrih is wall-walking and rolls him over -- and gives up his back in the process.
He once again reverses but Bailey is right there with a single and the writing is on the wall. Lesnar is yelling "Get up!" and "Stay tight!" Thanks coach. Shamar basically has his way with him for the remainder of the fight and lands a few punches before walking away with the decision.
Result: Shamar Bailey def. Nordin Asrih via unanimous decision
It's hard to knock a guy for winning but with as many times as he had mount and side control, that fight should have been over about 25 times. Dana White summed it up best: "Shamar basically came out and laid on him for five minutes in each round."
After the fight, Lesnar is amused at the amount of celebrating Team Dos Santos is doing considering they matched up their best fighter against his worst. He also uses it as an example to show his team the effectiveness of good wrestling in MMA.
In any case, Team Dos Santos retains control of the fight picks.
TUF 13 Episode 1 ends with a preview for what's in store this season and we get a look at the typical male drama including house trashing, people trashing and the requisite cameos.
Hey look, there's Matt Hughes!
See you right here next Wednesday night. Same TUF-time, same TUF-station.