The drought is over!
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brought season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) back to FOX Sports 1 for the final time, as the promotion will transition to ESPN at the start of 2019 but don’t worry, there are no plans to cancel TUF.
For this latest round of the combat sports reality show, eight female featherweights and eight male heavyweights will bang it out for the coveted “six-figure contract” in two divisions that sorely need the additional help.
Coaching this offering will be middleweight rivals Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum. As with most seasons, they’ll throw down for “The Reaper’s” 185-pound strap at the conclusion of the show, at an upcoming pay-per-view (PPV) event to be named.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we have a show to recap.
“The largest hit the hardest” is what we’re told as TUF 28 kicks off episode one, aptly titled “Heavy Hitters” because both divisions represent the heaviest weights for both men (heavyweight) and women (featherweight) competing in UFC.
The reason UFC needs 145-pound women is because division champion Cris Cyborg has no one left to fight, which explains this match up (and the countless other mixed weight mismatches that preceded it).
Let me just say that “Bad News Barbie” (Bea Malecki) is already the best nickname of the show and I haven’t even heard from the other 15 contestants.
We get introduced to the coaches who are both TUF champions, so they know the drill and are probaby best suited to actually “coach” these new recruits. It’s time for the evaluations and that leads us to the fight picks. Gastelum wins the coin toss and choses first fight, so Whittaker gets first pick.
Team Whittaker (in the order they were picked):
Anderson Da Silva | 31 | 3-0-1 | Sao Paulo, Brazil
Julija Stoliarenko | 25 | 4-2-1 | Kaunas, Lithuania
Juan Francisco Espino Diepa | 37 | 8-1 | Las Palmas, Spain
Leah Letson | 25 | 4-1 | Milwaukee, WI
Michel Batista | 34 | 4-0 | Miami, FL
Larissa Pacheco | 23 | 11-2 | Belem, Brazil
Przemyslaw Mysiala | 35 | 22-9-1 | Maidenhead, England
Katharina Lehner | 28 | 7-1 | Cologne, Germany
Team Gastelum (in the order they were picked):
Ben Sosoli | 28 | 6-2 | Melbourne, Australia
Macy Chiasson | 26 | 2-0 | New Orleans, LA
Maurice Greene | 31 | 5-2 | St. Cloud, MN
Pannie Kianzad | 26 | 9-3 | Copenhagen, Denmark
Josh Parisian | 28 | 7-2 | Brighton, MI
Bea Malecki | 26 | 2-0 | Stockholm, Sweden
Justin Frazier | 28 | 10-2 | Cave City, AR
Gastelum picks the first fight and we have Maurice Greene battling Przemyslaw Mysiala.
Green is a huge heavyweight and acknowledges his lazy eye, so that means no one can talk about it behind his back. His height and reach advantage will be tough to overcome but like they said, one shot at heavyweight is sometimes all it takes.
After our first commercial break the contestants are delivered to the TUF house — now on sale — and it’s a mad dash for the best rooms (and best beds). Will we see TUF babies now that men and women are bunking under the same roof?
Gastelum wants to create a true team atmosphere because he believes it will help bring out the best in each fighter, since they will only have to worry about training and competing. Macy Chiasson likes training with heavyweights because she doesn’t have to pull her punches.
For Team Whittaker, they start out by playing team games to help build camaraderie because, according to “The Reaper,” it helps take the edge off. He tells his team he is not trying to “teach” them because they are already fighters. Instead, he wants to help coach them to be their best.
We get a closer look at Green the person (as opposed to the fighter) and he lives with his fiancé and their kids. He’s a stay-at-home dad which helps him train because his hours are flexible. His severance package from his last job doesn’t hurt, either.
Green — who can also crochet and drink beer in the morning — trains under former UFC fighter Brock Larson in Minnesota.
Now we focus on heavyweight grappler Mysiala, who is clearly the bane of those charged with MMA play-by-play. He comes from a poor family and got mixed up in drugs earlier in his life and credits MMA — which came after rehab — for keeping him straight.
Born in Poland, he now lives and trains in England with his two young children, who also train jiu-jitsu.
Both fighters make weight without incident because they’re heavyweights and there is typically no cutting. They fight at whatever weight they walk around at, which has its advantages, as well as its disadvantages (like not being forced to do all that cardio).
The gameplan for the much shorter Mysiala is simple: get inside, push him against the fence, and take him down. Naturally, the wrestling-challenged Green will want to keep the distance, work the jab, and control the center of the Octagon.
There’s 10 minutes left in the show and the fight hasn’t even started. In fact, we’re currently in a commercial break. So yeah, this fight is not going to see a second round. Heck, it might not even see a second minute.
Let’s see what happens.
265 lbs.: Maurice Greene (5-2) vs. Przemyslaw Mysiala (22-9-1)
Round 1: Touch of gloves and as expected, Green is working the jab. He walks forward and inexplicably ties up with Mysiala. The Pole is unable to capitalize and they separate. Green lumbers in and gets tagged but shakes it off. Another clinch by Green that goes nowhere. Mysiala rushes in with a big right and gets rejected, then stumbles and falls to the floor. Green follows him down and uses his considerable girth to quickly muscle his way into side control. Mysiala kicks his way out of danger and they go back to the stand up. Mysiala is striking scared and not committing to his attack, which leaves him vulnerable to the counter. Front kick to the face lands for Green, who then unloads an uppercut and two violent knees. Mysiala collapses and eats a ton of shots but somehow gets to his feet but his back is against the cage. He’s a sitting duck. Green floors him with a terrifyingly violent Shoryuken and the fight is over.
Green def. Mysiala by knockout
After the fight, Coach Gastelum — who retains fight pick with his team’s opening victory — picks Pannie Kianzad to fight Team Whittaker’s Katharina Lehner.
See you in seven!