By the time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) rolled out season eight of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), the emphasis had shifted from its original focus of mixed martial arts (MMA) competition to the selling points of reality television.
Calling all train wrecks!
The clear star of TUF 8 -- whether we liked it or not -- was a drunken disaster named Junie Browning. When the camera did take a break from his redneck rampage, it was pointed at Philippe Nover, who was dubbed "the next Anderson Silva" by UFC President Dana White.
Lurking in the background was a heavy-handed wrestler named Ryan Bader.
"Darth" secured a spot in the TUF house with a second-round submission win over Kyle Kingsbury in episode two, but had little time to celebrate, as he was tasked with turning away Tom Lawlor the following week.
Bader won by "Filthy" first-round knockout and wouldn't be seen for another nine episodes.
And since the program had more important things to worry about, like duck abortions and "Splushi," the light heavyweight's extended downtime consisted of embarrassing lowlights, like eating urine-tainted fruit in episode eight.
Welcome to Spike TV.
The semifinals got underway in episode 11 and Bader outworked Eliot Marshall for a spot in the live finale. Joining him in a fight for the six-figure contract was Vinny Magalhaes, a slick submission specialist who was fresh off back-to-back armbar victories over Jules Bruchez and Krzysztof Soszynski.
The stage was set for December 13, 2008 at the Palms Casino Resort (before this went down) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Here's what happened.
A touch of gloves gets the action underway and Bader opens with a trio of low kicks. Magalhaes returns fire with a few legs of his own. Both fighters stay active on the feet but neither establishes a clear advantage in the stand up. Not surprising, considering the bout was billed as "wrestling vs. jiu-jitsu."
"It will be interesting to see if Vinny pulls guard at any point in time," remarks UFC color commentator Joe Rogan.
Bader continues to walk down his foe, uncorking a flying knee that does no damage, followed by a brief exchange that puts him on his ass due to a slip. He recovers before Magalhaes can capitalize on his downward position, and sends the Brazilian to naptown with a huge overhand right.
The official time is 2:18 of the opening frame.
Following his "official" UFC contract, Bader would go on to win his next four fights, setting himself up for a number-one contender's bout against Jon Jones at UFC 126 in Las Vegas. "Darth" was choked out by "Bones" and has been working to get back into the title hunt ever since.
Glover Teixeira wants to send him to the back of the line for good.
Their 205-pound main event will take center stage at the UFC Fight Night 28 event this Wednesday night (Sept. 4, 2013) on FOX Sports 1 from Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. It will mark Bader's twelfth contest inside the Octagon and perhaps his last chance to stay -- and advance -- in the division top 10.
And as he proved against Magalhaes nearly five years ago, all it takes is one punch.