The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 15: "Live" got into full swing with the second episode last night (March 16, 2012), as coaches Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz picked their teams, set up the first fight and got the training underway.
This week's show was capped off by a brutal knee knockout by James Vick over Daron Cruickshank that surprised most people, including me. For a detailed account of how it all went down be sure to hit up out TUF 15: "Live" results post right here.
Nonetheless, several things became evident in episode number two:
Cruz is super uncomfortable in front of the cameras. We pretty much knew that based on his past on-camera appearances for fight-hyping press ventures, but it became overwhelmingly evident on the show, especially when he is seen talking to his guys. One-on-one, he seems to do okay, but in front of a big group, he seizes up. Maybe he'll get better and relax. We'll see.
As much as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White takes a bad wrap from time to time for being so outspoken, I thought this episode showed a side of him that we do see every now and then, but doesn't get publicized often. After Michael Chiesa experienced the loss of his father, White paid for him to fly home, take a day to be with friends and family, then allowed him to come back to the show.
I'm not trying to give the guy a Nobel Peace Prize, I just thought it was good to see a more "human" side of Dana.
It's still a little awkward how they're balancing the "LIVE" action with the canned/production stuff. The episode went About 40 minutes in before we heard from sometimes-host Jon Anik for the second time. It was brief and felt forced, almost like they're trying to find something for him to do. I don't hate the FX production quality of TUF, but it definitely still feels like they're figuring it out.
Without further ado (which, I believe is Latin for: "jibber jabber"), here are the TUF 15 Power Rankings for episode two:
For this week's power rankings, I deferred to the coaches. Call that a cop-out, if you will, but I figure guys who get paid to fight and have been training in mixed martial arts (MMA) their whole lives know better than I do. Cruickshank was, of course, left off the rankings, reflecting that he lost his fight and is out of the competition (barring a wild card scenario).
(Note: The numbers in parenthesis indicate each fighter's ranking from the previous week.)
1) Justin Lawrence: (7)
2) Al Iaquinta: (11)
3) Sam Sicilia (3)
4) Cristiano Marcello (1)
5) Myles Jury (13)
6) Mike Rio (8)
7) Joe Proctor (9)
8) James Vick (14)
9) Michael Chiesa (2)
10) Vinc Pichel (5)
11) John Cofer (15)
12) Chris Tickle (6)
13) Andy Ogle (16)
14) Jeremy Larsen (10)
15) Chris Saunders (12)
It's still early, so it's hard to make a lot of predictions yet, but these are the things I'm going to be watching for as the season unfolds:
In my opinion, Michael Chiesa is still one of the guys to watch for, but how will he respond to the loss of his father? Sometimes, that kind of setback can be a huge motivator. Sometimes, it can cause the heart to get in front of the head and bring about big losses (see: Jake Shields, Mark Hominick and Sam Stout). I'm pulling for him, and I hope he's able to overcome this obstacle, but it's with reservations that I believe it's going to happen.
For now, anyway.
Vick may very well be a sleeper here. I liked Cruickshank a lot. Vick has now beat two established MMA fighters in back-to-back appearances. He seems to be learning quickly and has the build and frame to be a potentially very good fighter. His length may pose a problem for many of the guys in the house.
It will be interesting to see how Faber handles the first loss. Can he rebound and shake it off, or will he follow in the footsteps of other coaches like "Rampage" Quinton Jackson, Ken Shamrock, Frank Mir and Josh Koscheck, who talked a good talk, but didn't end up being able to back it up in the coaching category.
Now's the part where you get to beat me up. In the comment section below, leave us a note (or 15) to tell us what we got wrong, your predictions, as well as any other things that stand out to you thus far, in regard to TUF 15.
Miss the show last night? No problem, we've got you covered. Check out a compete recap of TUF 15: "Live" Episode 2 right here.