After 13 years and a roller coaster of championships, hellacious knockouts, unmatchable streaks, precipitous falls and unexpected resurgences, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has taken its mixed martial arts (MMA) reality franchise to South America.
Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort, two of the most dangerous men in the promotion's middleweight division, will serve as the coaches for the historic The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil," the first international season of its kind. Taking place in the titular nation and entirely in Portuguese, the tryouts brought hundreds of Brazil's finest from every conceivable weight class to test their mettle.
Eventually, 16 Middleweight and 16 Featherweight fighters were selected, including several of the brightest prospects in the game today. Tonight (March 25, 2012) at midnight ET, we get to see the start of one of the most talent-rich seasons in the show's history, as 16 fights decide who will take the first step towards achieving their UFC dreams.
UFC.com has the details:
The Premiere episode will showcase elimination bouts, narrowing down the initial group of 32 fighters to the final 16 who will move into the TUF house. From there, they will be split between "Team Vitor" and "Team Wanderlei" and face weekly eliminations until the finale, where a winner from both weight classes will be declared The Ultimate Fighter and win an international UFC contract.
MMAmania will have a live blog of the episode, which will be streamed with subtitles on TUF.tv. The good stuff is after the jump (beginning at around midnight ET):
Okay, we've apparently been bait-and-switched. You seemingly have to sign up for the UFC newsletter to watch the show. There is a link in the comments.
Anyway, WE. AAAAAARE (not) LIVE.
The show starts with a background of the coaches and an explanation of how TUF works. Fairly standard stuff.
Fighters enter the building, standard talk about their excitement at the chance to be famous, how tough it will be, etcetera.
VITOR IN DA HOUSE.
WANDERLEI TOO. DRAMATIC MUSIC CALLS FOR ALL CAPS.
Coaches explain the elimination rounds; they're going back to 2 rounds, with a third in case of a tie. Dana now enters the house, and the fighters are provided with headphones, at the other end of which is presumably a translator. Dana gives a pretty awesome pep talk; it looks like these guys really want it.
One of the fighters is actually in tears.
Alright, let's get started
First fight is Rony "Jason" Mariano vs. Dileno Lopes. Mariano was the #1 BE bantamweight prospect. Even crazier, Lopes was the #1 flyweight prospect. He's jumping two weight classes for this.
House is quiet; early kicks from Mariano. Not much action besides leg kicks. Mariano now charges in and gets countered hard; Lopes tries to put "Jason" away, but Jason keeps him away with his legs and eventually gets to his feet. Lopes blocks a flying knee, but gets smashed with a huge hook and goes down. One more on the canvas and Mario Yamasaki stops it.
Good on Lopes for dropping a guy a weightclass above him, though. In any case, Rony Mariano is the first featherweight in the house.
Next up at 185 is Francisco Drinaldo vs. Charles Michael. Drinaldo is the Jungle Fight lightweight champion; he's going up thirty pounds for this fight.
Michael says people compare his fights to rodeos, as they only last eight or nine seconds.
Both guys swing hard early; nobody lands clean until Michael flubs a takedown and Massaranduba absolutely annihilates him with ground-and-pound. 14-second knockout for the lightweight.
Oddly prescient prediction from Michael, albeit in the wrong direction.
Back to 145. Godofredo de Oliveira vs. Johnny Goncalves.
Ah, what a tease. Commercial break.
Or not. They're right back. Let's do this.
Goncalves moves in with left hands and Oliveira drops for a takedown; Goncalves resists but eventually goes down. Nice sweep by Goncalves has him on top, but Oliveira latches into a triangle that looks deep. Johnny picks him up and carts him around but can't dislodge him. Oliveira grabs the trapped arm and extends it, finally eliciting the tap.
Middleweights again. Cezar "Mutante" Ferreira (who has apparently trained with Vitor) vs. Gustavo "Labaredo" Sampaio (who looks like the lovechild of Matyushenko and Liddell).
Nice counter right from Sampaio early. Sampaio tripped to the ground off a kick, but gets to his feet. Thai plum now for Mutante, who manages to sneak a knee through Sampaio's guard and takes him down into half guard. Kimura attempt from Mutante unsuccessful, who chops Sampaio up with nasty elbows. The ref claims Mutante threw 12-6 elbows and stands them up. Big cut on the back of Sampaio's head. There's the bell, 10-9 Mutante.
Nice leg kick from Gustavo early in the second; he's trying to time the overhand right. Matador action as Mutante whiffs hard. Left hook from Sampaio, who seems significantly smaller than Ferreira. Takedown attempt from Mutante; he has to work hard for it, but he eventually gets Sampaio down. Quick scramble leads to Mutante locking up an arm-in guillotine for the submission win. His striking needs work, but his ground work was excellent.
145. Hugo "Wolverine" Viana (named for the X-man, not the furry murder machine) vs. Alexandre "Sangue" Ramos, who looks incredibly high in his promo.
I've heard good things about Ramos; let's see how it goes.
Man, Ramos looks gargantuan next to Viana; wouldn't surprise me if they were a weight class apart. Thai clinch from Ramos, Viana cracks him with a right and bullies him into the fence. Flying triangle attempt from Ramos, who then switches to the armbar. Flashy, but Viana escapes and is in Ramos's open guard. Short punches from the top by Viana. Nice right hand from "Wolverine," who isn't swinging huge but is keeping a steady stream of solid shots going. He now stands and tries to pass the guard, but fails and goes back to thumping Ramos on the head. Rape choke and right hand from Viana doubtlessly please Wanderlei. Ramos tries to push him off but gives up half guard in the process. Ramos now regains guard but continues eating big shots. Three gargantuan right elbows put Ramos completely to sleep; thing the first one might have been enough. Nasty knockout from a significantly smaller man. Interestingly, this is his first finish; he's 5-0, all decisions.
185. Richardson Moreira vs. Daniel Sarafian. They're doing it highlight style. Sarafian drops Moreira, narrowly escapes a heel hook. Sarafian lands an illegal knee that Moreria milks for all its worth, getting two points taken from Sarafian.
Second round, Sarafian gets a takedown and beats the tar out of him, enough to get the decision even with the lost points.
Fabricio Guerrero vs. Rodrigo Damm at 145, also highlight style. Guerrero was one of BE's top lightweight prospects and Damm is a well-respected veteran. Looks like Guerrero beat him up standing, but got taken down late. Second round, Guerrero gave up his back and got RNC'd. Shame to see such a bright prospect go out in the elimination round, but that's the way it is.
145. Wagner Campos vs. Fernando Guerreira. Highlight style again. Campos wins the first round with superior striking, although both coaches criticize him for not going for the finish. Second round is apparently the same. Coaches and Dana think Camps one, but the judges demand a third round. Campos wins the third round and gets in the house. Fernando whines, Diaz-style, about Campos "running away".
185. Sergio Moraes (who subbed Kron Gracie in grappling) vs. Thiago Rela.
Rela looks the bigger of the two by a fair margin, and bullies Sergio into the fence. Sergio counters with a takedown of his own and Rela goes for a leglock. They're exchanging punches with their legs intertwined; pretty hilarious, actually. It's like a painful game of pattycake. Sergio drops back to try to finish his own leglock and snatches an inside heel hook for the sub. Nicely done by the ADCC vet.
Rafael Bueno vs. Gasparzinho, highlight style. Bueno pulls guard for some reason. Second round, Gaspard beat him up from top position. Third round, Gaspar nearly gets a submission, but gets the decision win nonetheless.
Joao de Souza vs. Thiago Perpetuo at 185. Perpetuo was #7 on BE's LHW prospect list. This is highlight style
First round consists for Perpetuo beating up Souza from top control. Second round is Perpetuo beating up Souza from top control for a very dominant win.
Giovani Souza Jr. vs.John Teixeira at 145. Teixeira was on the BE featherweight list and looks like a mix between Jacare and Scott Jorgenson.
Quick exchange early leads to Teixeira pressing him into the fence. Nasty knee to the balls from Teixeira, but Giovani is okay. Flying knee from Giovani puts his shin right in John's groin, forcing another pause.
They go back to it. Giovani lands a nice right hand but gets taken down. Teixeira immediately passes to full mount, but Giovani reverses into top position. Unfortunately, he gets to enjoy it for about five seconds before Teixeira armbars him. Not bad.
Wanderlei reminds the audience that his own cup is super-sized. As it we didn't already know.
Gilberto Galvao vs. Delson Heleno at 185.
Stream issue means I may be a bit behind, and I apologize.
Anyway, they do it highlight-style. Heleno, an IFL vet, manages to use his superior ground skills to win by decision.
Renee Forte vs. Fabio Bolinho at 185, highlight. Bolinho spends the first round battering Forte's legs, but eats some hard punches in the process. Both guys apparently go crazy in the second round and trade huge shots. Forte lands the better and wins a decision.
145 pounds. Vinicius Vina (an incredible finisher) vs. Pedro Nobre. Vina looks incredibly relaxed in there.
Pseudo commercial break.
Leg kick from Nobre starts the fight, but he gets pasted with a huge right hand fifteen seconds in. He somehow manages to stay awake and goes for a heel hook, which Vina avoids while dropping hard shots. Nobre gets to his feet, only to eat two more enormous bombs and go down for good this time. Vicious knockout by Vina.
185. Samuel Trinidade vs. Leonardo Teixeira.
Teixeira aggressive early, but it 's a counter right that drops Trinidade. It looks like a flash KD and Trinidade is back on his feet. Neither man throwing with much technique. An ill-advised knee attempt leads to Teixeira being put on his back, but he scrambles back up. Nice hard shots from Teixeira at the end; I'm pretty sure they chopped a few minutes out of that fight. 10-9 Teixeira.
Teixiera plodding forward with wide punches; he eats a couple of huge hooks but seems unfazed. Failed takedown from Trinidade leads to both guys just dropping their heads and windmilling. Both guys are landing huge shots with no discernible effect. By the end of the second, Teixeira looks completely wiped out. Judges call for a third round.
Round starts same as the others, with Teixiera walking forward and both men throwing wild bombs. There is seriously zero technique involved in this fight, but it's entertaining enough. Slow-motion takedown attempts from Trinidade fail. Trinidade asks the ref to retrieve his mouthpiece while Teixeira is flurrying; he actually looks away from Teixeira while eating punches and talks to the ref. What a chin on this guy.
Trinidade finally gets a takedown and applies a triangle in the waning seconds, but can't finish it. Crazy-ass fight. Teixeira gets the decision. Somewhere, Leonard Garcia has a tear in his eye and a smile on his face.
They bring all the guys who made it into the Octagon and Dana gives them a glowing review. Vitor reminds them to do their best and now blow their chance. Wanderlei congratulates them and praises their skill.
The final list:
Anistavio Medeiros ("Gasparzinho")
Godofredo de Oliveira
Marcos Vinicius Borges Pancini
Excellent crop of talent; looking forward to the rest of the season.
Except the part that apparently involves streaking.
Anyway, stop by next week for for team selection.