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The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) ‘Redemption’ results, recap, and discussion (Ep. 1)


It’s that time again.

The venerable Ultimate Fighter series has pulled together 14 veterans of its various houses for its latest season, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Redemption.” Those of you who didn’t get the chance to watch the two-hour pilot earlier tonight need not worry; we’ve got you covered.

The episode opens with Joe Stevenson talking about his descent into alcoholism following his release from the UFC, so they clearly aren’t pulling any punches. The subsequent narrated highlight reel reveals a physical confrontation between coaches Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw, plus a cash prize of $250,000 for the eventual winner.

Alright, actual episode time.

Jesse Taylor gets the first flashbacks, recounting his TUF 7 experience and subsequent drunken rampage through Las Vegas that got him booted from the Finale. Then we get James Krause, who lost in the elimination round of TUF: “Live” but is currently employed by the UFC.

Julian Lane, “LET ME BANG, BRO” himself, is next. We get plenty of footage of him going nuts on TUF 16.

In comes the Baldfather, explaining the concept of the show with Cody and TJ at his side. He explains that he’ll pay the fighters $10,000 a fight. Ramsey Nijem talks him into offering $5,000 per finish.

Dana introduces the coaches and their history to the audience, then explains the wildcard format: two fighters who lose in the opening round will be chosen to fight, after which the winner will join the seven who already advanced.

COACHES’ EVALUATIONS YEAH. TJ’s focused on grappling ability. His staff includes Duane Ludwig and UFC veteran Elliott Marshall. Cody, who brought Urijah Faber and Danny Castillo, interviews the fighters on their goals, weight, and abilities.

TEAM SELECTIONS YEAH. They’re going to alternate who picks the fights rather than having the winners maintain control. TJ wins the coin toss and elects to pick the first fighter.

Your teams, in order of selection:

TEAM DILLASHAW: James Krause, Jesse Taylor, Ramsey Nijem, Dhiego Lima, Joe Stevenson, Tom Gallicchio, Gilbert Smith

TEAM GARBRANDT: Seth Baczynski, Mehdi Baghdad, Eddie Gordon, Hector Urbina, Hayder Hassan, Julian Lane, Justin Edwards

Cody picks the first fight: Gilbert Smith vs. Seth Baczysnki. Cody utterly fails to pronounce “Baczynski” correctly. TJ picks James Krause vs. Hector Urbina for the second fight, which will take place right afterwards. TJ states that he wants to exploit the fact that Urbina weighed 196 pounds during the tryouts.

Into the house we go, then the first training session. Urbina’s weight is an immediate issue. Garbrandt admits this is his first time doing real hands-on training.

Here comes TJ, explaining his split with Team Alpha Male. He claims Urijah gave him an ultimatum to choose between him and Ludwig, while Garbrandt states TJ was “scheming” against them.

Team Dillashaw does a Mayweather-style HARD WORK/DEDICATION pump-up before it’s back to the house.

Gilbert Smith’s turn to reminisce. He was the first fight on TUF 17, falling to Luke Barnatt via flying knee. He recounts his issues with coach Jon Jones and his former teammates, discussing it with his current squad.

Home videos! Man’s got a cute dog, he does.

Over to Team Garbrandt for Seth Baczynski. He got a second chance on TUF 11 after losing to Court McGee in the opening round, then got DQ’d for a soccer kick on Brad Tavares. Unlike Smith, he got a shot in the UFC itself and started very strong before a three-fight losing streak ended his run.

Baczynski explains what he was going through at the time to Eddie Gordon and the audience. He admits that he’s not comfortable telling it, but explains that his sister was shot at a party. The man who did it got away after pleading the fifth.

Honestly, this feels exploitative by the show, but Baczynski volunteered the information. He’s raising one of his sister’s children.

Home videos again! Seth Baczynski also has very cute dogs. Plus cute cows, chickens, turkeys, and goats.

Urbina’s still overweight. Cody says he’s “being a little b*tch” behind his back and he’s honestly not super wrong; Urbina’s moping at all times. Danny Castillo’s not happy that he’s making basic errors in his weight cutting. He gets to 188.4 and looks like he wants to die. I can’t even imagine him reaching welterweight in this state.

A day before the weigh-in, he pulls out. He admits it in front of the cast and Dana chides him for taking this opportunity away from another fighter before sending him away.

Dana sits down with the coaches to bring in a new fighter. Cody suggests TUF 22’s Johnny Nunez and Dana agrees, pushing the Krause fight back to give Nunez time to acclimate. Krause is very grumpy that he had to cut weight for nothing.

Apropos of nothing, Gilbert Smith walks over to Team Garbrandt in his underwear while they’re playing pool and talks some trash. He talks some more smack in his dressing room, which has very thin walls and allows Baczynski to hear him. They have a brief confrontation that, in traditional TUF fashion, amounts to nothing.

Gilbert tries to go apologize and claims it “wasn’t about” Seth despite explicitly saying “I’ve beaten better guys than Seth, I’ve beaten guys who’ve beaten Seth.” Seth and Cody basically tell him to piss off.

Then they get into it again before the weigh-ins. This drags both teams in and Cody grabs TJ by the throat when they face off. Their teams separate them and try to calm things down.

Cody claims TJ’s “shook” and “scared” while TJ laughs. Cody is really not coming off as intelligent or well-adjusted here.

Both weigh in at 170.5. Fight time.

Gilbert Smith vs. Seth Baczynski

Round one: Seth moving, eats a low kick and straight left. Seth ties up, eats a knee as they jockey for position. Left hand on the exit. One minute in. Smith continues to land the straight left, can’t hit the takedown but lands a hard body kick. Teep from Baczynski and a heavy left hook. Smith shoots and Baczynski cracks him with Browne elbows on the way down. Two minutes in. Smith takes the back, one hook in on the fence. Baczynski slips out, dragged back down with two minutes to go.

Smith still on the back, working for the choke. Neck crank doesn’t produce results. One minute to go. Seth survives the round. 10-9 Smith.

Round two: Body kick and straight right land for Baczynski. Smith tries to slam home more kicks, then lands a well-timed takedown a minute in. Baczynski works his way to the feet, then pulls guard on a guillotine. Smith waits it out and sets up in half guard. Ground-and-pound from Smith. Two minutes in. Baczynski trying to get his back on the fence, having limited success. Two minutes to go.

Baczynski makes it up, slammed back down into guard. One minute to go. Smith throwing arm punches but grunting a lot to make it seem like he is working hard. He ends the round spouting random b-movie bro-tastic quotes while thwacking away from guard.

Final result: Smith def. Baczynski by unanimous decision

Team Dillashaw’s last pick beat Team Garbrandt’s first pick. Baczynski gives no excuses.

Next fight pick: Tom Gallicchio vs... well, Cody decides to get in TJ’s face again before he can pick someone to fight him. Okay, now they’re done. Tom Gallicchio vs. Eddie Gordon.

Season preview shows another scuffle. Also shirtless adventures. The coaches’ challenge is tetherball on narrow platforms in a pool.

The final shot is of a snake doing the tongue thing, which I’m pretty sure is meant to ride on the whole “Dillashaw is a snake” thing. Thing is, they picked a ball python, which are both adorable and, despite the camera’s best efforts, very small.

See you next week.

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