Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to FOX Sports 1 last night (Weds., Aug. 31, 2016) for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 24 combat sports reality show, coached by top flyweight contenders and bitter rivals Joseph Benavidez and Henry Cejudo.
Instead of holding an open casting call, the world's largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion instead scoured the globe for 16 flyweight champions competing in regional and international promotions, then selected the best of the best to make hay while the sun shines in "Sin City."
In episode one, the 16 fighters were split into two groups of eight, seeded in a tournament format No. 1-16. The final two contestants will meet at the FOX Sports 1 live finale on Dec. 3, headlined by the Benavidez vs. Cejudo grudge match. The TUF 24 champ moves on to challenge Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson in early 2017.
Unless the 125-pound title somehow changes hands between now and then.
Here are the tournament brackets, helpfully compiled by MMA Junkie:
#1 Alexandre Pantoja, Resurrection Fighting Alliance (Team Cejudo) vs. #16 Brandon Moreno, World Fighting Federation (Team Benavidez)
#8 Terrence Mitchell, Alaska Fighting Championship (Team Benavidez) vs. #9 Kai Kara-France, Bragging Rights Fight Series (Team Cejudo)
#5 Hiromasa Ogikubo, Shooto Japan (Team Benavidez) vs. #12 Nkazimulo Zulu, Extreme Fighting Championship (Team Cejudo)
#4 Damacio Page, Legacy Fighting Championship (Team Benavidez) vs. #13 Adam Antolin, Tachi Palace Fights (Team Cejudo)
#2 Yoni Sherbatov, Xcessive Force Fighting Championship (Team Cejudo) vs. #15 Eric Shelton, Caged Agression MMA (Team Benavidez)
#7 Ronaldo Candido, Shoot South America (Team Benavidez) vs. #10 Jamie Alvarez, Absolute Fighting Championship (Team Cejudo)
#6 Matt Schnell, Legacy Fighting Championship (Team Cejudo) vs. #11 Matt Rizzo, Ring of Combat (Team Benavidez)
#3 Tim Elliot, Titan Fighting Championship (Team Benavidez) vs. #14 Charlie Alaniz, Hex Fight Series (Team Cejudo)
Following the bracket announcements, the first two fights got underway where Alexandre Pantoja def. Brandon Moreno via submission and Kai Kara-France def. Terrence Mitchell via knockout, putting Team Cejudo up 2-0. Stay tuned next week as #5 Ogikubo (Team Benavidez) battles #12 Zulu (Team Cejudo).
See you in seven!