mma

The Ultimate Fighter Live, Episode 1: You’ve got five minutes

Yes, the entire first episode is live. For once, I might have my recap posted before everyone else.

How will they fit 16 fights on one show? Dana drops the surprise: The fights are ONE five-minute round. Dang.

Granted, a lot of these prelim fights tend to be short. But click the “Read more” — this is going to be a long one.

FIGHT 1

Joey Proctor: Won three in Reality Fighting in 2011 to run pro record to 7-1.
Jordan Rinaldi: North Carolinian was 5-0 since 2010 debut and has beaten Dennis Bermudez.

Arianny walks, Josh Rosenthal is the ref, here we go. The “live” bug is very much in the way.

They spend about 90 seconds feeling each other out, and then Proctor gets the better of an exchange. That’s also when we start to hear from Cruz and Faber, excited about the exchange. Proctor catches a kick, lands a good overhand right and finishes with a guillotine.

We have a long wait for some reason for the “official decision,” which Rinaldi surely doesn’t appreciate. They flash Proctor’s Twitter handle as he trots off.

FIGHT 2

Cristian Marcello: Fight record dates back to 1997. Highlight year in 2006, fighting on a Pride – Bushido card and then beating Dave Kaplan. After 2½-year absence, returned to go 2-1 in Bitetti Combat in 2010. Fought again only four days after his third Bitetti fight.
Jared Carlsten: One fight and one win per year from 2008-10. We’re told he named his daughter “Kimura.”

Steve Mazzagatti refs. Marcello looks confident early with leg kicks. Carlsten catches on and tries for the takedown, but Marcello responds with a solid knee. Then Marcello works a clinch against the cage and takes him down.

Marcello advances to mount. My picture freezes. Eek!

In a one-round fight, one takedown might be enough. But Marcello is working for a ground-and-pound finish, or at least trying to soften him up enough to get a submission. Carlsten gives up his back, and it’ll be the latter. Rear naked choke, tap, Marcello is your winner.

FIGHT 3

Erin Beach: A win in 2008, another in 2010, then a KO loss in King of the Cage in 2011. Bellator then gave him a shot, and he took a first-round submission win.
Sam Sicilia: One of two unbeaten fighters (10-0) from the Fancy Pants Fight Team.

Big reach advantage for Beach. It matters little as Sicilia knocks him out in about eight seconds. Maybe a slight surprise to see Rosenthal jump so soon, but Beach fell hard.

FIGHT 4

Austin Lyons: Southerner lost his debut and won his next nine, highlighted by a first-round submission win in Bellator.
Chris Tickle: Lost four of first six but capped five-fight streak with unanimous decision over Brian Geraghty.

Ah … Arianny is carrying “Fight” cards rather than “Round” cards. This is Number 4.

This one’s simple — they both throw a lot of punches until one catches Lyons cleanly. Mazzagatti stops it. Tickle into the house in about 24 seconds.

We actually have some time to kill, so we go to the table where Dana White is sitting with coachs Cruz and Faber.

“The guys who won looked like they were awake and the other guys were asleep,” Cruz says.

Faber speaks up on Rinaldi’s behalf, saying he looked tough. That was indeed the only competitive fight so far.

FIGHT 5

Brendan Weafer: Scattered a few fights since 2005, going 6-3 but never getting finished. Lost to former judo star Rick Hawn and lost a bout in M-1 Selection 2010. Jackson camp.
Andy Ogle: Youngster from Sunderland, England, was on a seven-fight win streak.

Weafer works some serious Muay Thai early but winds up on his back as Ogle gets the takedown out of the clinch. Weafer shows a good active guard and manages to neutralize Ogle. He looks like he’s close to a leg triangle, but he can’t quite get it. Weafer looks good, but can he win this from is back?

Ogle finally gets a hand free for to pound Weafer’s ribs. Weafer keeps working his legs around Ogle’s neck. Looks like it might be all-or-nothing here on this triangle attempt — if Weafer doesn’t get it, he can’t possibly win. He does land some punches to Ogle’s head from the bottom, but Ogle responds to the ribs.

Longest fight of the night. We go to the fifth minute with little change — Ogle working the ribs, Weafer trying for the Hail Mary submission. Rosenthal finally stands them with 30 seconds left. Weafer throws a kick and falls, then ends up on top of Ogle … in a tight guillotine. The horn saves him.

Decision time and some legitimate suspense in the ad break. I say Ogle did enough from the top to win. All three judges agree. He has a unique celebration, jumping up onto Dana White.

FIGHT 6

Vinc Pichel: Six knockouts in six fights.
Cody Pfister: Texan was 5-0 in Shark Fights, 1-3 elsewhere. (They say 7-3.) He’s the youngest competitor, Jon Anik tells us, and probably the least-tattooed.

Pfister gets the takedown — good ideas against a knockout specialist. He holds it for a minute but can’t do much. Then we have a really good protracted grappling scramble, with Pichel finally getting the better of it and landing in side control.

They stand, Pichel lands a punch and Pfister takes him down again. As Pichel tries to stand, Pfister drapes himself on his back. Really his side. It’s incredibly awkward. Pfister finally loses his position, and Pichel gets on top. Big elbow opens a massive cut. Pfister can’t recover, and Pichel maneuvers for the rear naked choke. He advances, and the rest of the fighters will need to deal with a blood-spattered canvas.

FIGHT 7

Mark Glover: Beat two TUFsters in Aaron Wilkinson and Mick Bowman. Quality of opponents went downhill from there for some reason.
John Cofer: The latest TUF contestant from the Hardcore Gym (Athens, Ga.) had a 7-1 record.

Glover lands a good head kick. Then a leg kick. Cofer charges in awkwardly. This bodes ill for my fellow Northeast Georgia native. Cofer clinches, and White says, “This guy’s not very good in the clinch.” Not sure which guy he means. Probably Glover, because Cofer gets the takedown. Glover tries to wall-walk, so Cofer picks him up and slams him.

The coaches and Dana note that Glover trapped Cofer’s arm. But he doesn’t know what to do with. Still, Glover manages to stand, and he lands a knee. Someone yells, “Ohhhhh … (bleep).” Is this on seven-second delay?

Good exchange on the feet, and Cofer clinches again. Then looks for a single leg and gets it, but Glover has a guillotine. Can’t finish it, and once again, he’s on his back. They stand, and Glover walks into a Cofer right. Cofer does a Diaz-style arms-out taunt for some reason, then takes him down again. That should seal it.

At the horn, Glover flings his mouthpiece in disgust. Someone, probably Faber, says, “Don’t do that, buddy!” Indeed, that’s not going to impress any judges who may be on the fence.

Unanimous decision for Cofer, whose Twitter handle is @CoferPottery

NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick is in the house. Well, the gym. He’s not a contestant.

FIGHT 8

Chase Hackett: 4-1 record against unknowns. Awesome handlebar mustache.
Chris Saunders: The “SoCal Kid” (not to be confused with coach Urijah “The California Kid” Faber) battled his way up to Bellator, where he lost a unanimous decision to Chris Horodecki. Dan Hardy-style red Mohawk.

Hackett presses the action early, but Saunders pulls him down into a guillotine. “That’s in,” we hear from the quiet ones at the table. But he holds it … holds it … holds it … and Hackett is out! But he can’t hold the takedown, and Saunders lands a couple of knees when they stand.

Hackett charges again for the takedown, and this time, he avoids the choke. But Saunders works his way up again. Tough fight to call at midway point.

Neither guy is going to be a contender on this show. It’s sloppy stuff. Saunders is exhausted from trying a choke for more than a minute. But Hackett’s just leaning on him, to Dana’s consternation. They stand, and Saunders tags him a couple of times. Hackett lands a good one with a minute left.

Hackett gets a leg, and Saunders does a Faber-style leap from his one grounded leg to land a knee. Then he grabs another guillotine attempt and pulls Hackett down. Again, he can’t get it. Hackett gets 20 seconds to try to pound him from the top.

Could be tough to score. All three judges say … Saunders.

We go back to the table, and Dana says it’s a good thing Hackett lives with his mom because he’ll be living there a bit longer. That’s harsh.

FIGHT 9

James Vick: Less than nine months of experience before the show started, winning four bouts in 2011.
Dakota Cochrane: Beat former WEC champion Jamie Varner in 2011, then lost his next bout to Ramico Blackmon. Only other loss in 13 fights was to T.J. O’Brien. Revealed that he had been in gay porn; Dana White said he had no issue with it.

Vick has an eight-inch height advantage. They spend the first four minutes in a clinch. Even on the ground, kneeling in front of each other. Vick flirts with a D’Arce choke. It’s really dull. “A wrestling stalemate,” Dana says. Rosenthal breaks it up, and Cochrane looks more poised in the standup. So naturally, he shoots for a takedown and gives Vick a guillotine attempt. But Vick doesn’t get it, so we’ll get another decision.

Split decision … Vick.

FIGHT 10

Johnavan Vistante Jr.: Hawaiian fighter had 3-1 record, including two wins in 808 Battleground.
Mike Chiesa: One of two fighters from the Pacific Northwest’s Fancy Pants Fight Team. Unbeaten in seven fights. Hair and beard resemble Joe Henle.

Chiesa charges for an immediate takedown. Lifts for small slam. Pounds with elbows, grabs neck. Takes the back. Vistante defends choke, ends up flattened out. Chiesa pounds ears and stops Vistante from slipping out the backdoor. Keeps pounding, slips in arm for rear naked choke. Tap. One-sided win for Chiesa.

FIGHT 11

Mike Rio: “The Wolverine” was 8-1, mostly in South Florida, with his sole loss to Efrain Escudero.
Ali Maclean: Belfast fighter nicknamed “Insane.” Took seven of his nine wins by submission, including four straight wins by north/south choke. Also lost a lot by submission — all five of his career defeats. Drew A.J. Wenn in BAMMA.

Rio also has the Chiesa hair and beard. Maclean says he doesn’t have friends and doesn’t need them. Rio has a nine-year age advantage, 30-21. Maclean reluctantly touches gloves when they start.

“Tito Ortiz and Clay Guida,” says Faber. Good one. They both land good punches. Rio pushes his hair back. Maclean wipes blood from his nose.

Everyone expects former wrestler Rio to go for the takedown, and he does. Into side control. Then guard. Rio comes close to a guillotine but opts to take Maclean’s back. Then he lifts and does a suplex. Ends up with a body triangle, but Faber spots a flaw in it, and sure enough, Maclean gets out. But the next time is a charm, and Maclean taps to the rear naked choke. Rio is in the house.

FIGHT 12

James Krause: Only 25 but already a WEC veteran with losses Donald Cerrone and Ricardo Lamas. Also lost to Toby Imada in Bellator and to Clay French in Titan FC. Won his last three before the show. Beat Michael Johnson.
Justin Lawrence: Made his pro debut on a big card — Strikeforce’s December 2010 effort headlined by Dan Henderson vs. Babalu Sobral. Won that one and two more in 2011.

Krause has the advantage in experience, reach, height …

But it’s Lawrence with some impressive kicks early. We’re told he trained with Anderson Silva, and it shows. They scramble, and Lawrence ends up on tap landing some punches. They stand, and Lawrence knocks him out cleanly with a right hand. White and company yell, “He’s out! He’s out!” Mazzagatti finally makes his way over. That won’t help the ref’s rep in Dana’s eyes.

But the bigger news: The WEC veteran is out.

FIGHT 13

Drew Dober: Lost to Hackett as part of a 1-2 start, then beat Nick Nolte (not the actor) in Bellator. Then headlined a Victory Fighting card billed as “Dober vs. Seipel 2,” a rematch of Dober’s last amateur bout. Extended his win streak to five before dropping a bout in 2011.
Daron Cruickshank: King of the Cage veteran had six of his 10 wins by KO/TKO. Parents are taekwondo black belts.

Cruickshank has his back against the cage, then suddenly explodes. With a mean look on his face, he throws everything, staggering Dobert. Then he takes him down and lands even more. Somehow, Dober stands up. They clinch. Dana White correctly says Dober has to just let it all hang out now. He’s not winning a decision. But Cruickshank takes him down.

They stand, and Dober connects a couple of times. The camera is in a judge’s way just as Dober lands a knee to the groin. We have our first timeout of the night, thanks to the ever-alert ref Josh Rosenthal.

We resume, and Cruickshank again is lining up kicks. Then a takedown with 30 seconds left. He scrambles around to look for a guillotine — submissions and KOs are worth $5K tonight — but runs out of time. No doubt about this decision. Cruickshank advances. Dober nods.

FIGHT 14

Jeff Smith: Nine-fight streak since losing 2009 debut, including seven straight submissions.
Jeremy Larsen: Won eight of 10, with one loss to TUF champ Efrain Escudero in 2011.

Smith says his nickname is “The Submission Technician.” He shows decent standup, then takes Larsen down. Larsen had a big cut near the top of his head, maybe a clash of heads. He works his way up and lands some knees. But Smith drags him down and works a couple of different chokes. Larsen stands and eats a punch for his trouble. Smith pulls guard and goes for an armbar. Larsen escapes and gets into side control, briefly. Smith stands, grabs the neck again and lands a knee.

But now Larsen is first to throw punches, and he lands a takedown. But Smith goes for a couple of leglocks. Faber is concerned. Larsen seemed to be thinking about tapping, but he gets out and gets to side control, landing some knees to Smith’s ribs. He stays in that position most of the rest of the way, and we have a tough one to score.

Decision for Larsen, and Smith looks pissed. Might be the first guy to get a call if someone is hurt.

FIGHT 15

Jon Tuck: From Guam with a 6-0 record. None of his fights had reached the second round. Also some Abu Dhabi grappling success. Looks a bit like a taller John Dodson.
Al Iaquinta: Matt Serra product went 3-1 in four 2009 bouts for Ring of Combat, returned in 2011 to win a split decision over Gabriel Miglioli and knock him out in 26 seconds in a rematch before losing to UFC vet Pat Audinwood. Chosen for TUF 12 but broke his hand. 

An Abu Dhabi vet vs. a Serra protege? Could be a grappling showcase. And it’s pretty good. Tuck hangs onto an armbar as Iaquinta lifts him, then escapes.

The standup isn’t particularly interesting, but Iaquinta has the better of it. Then the guys at the table notice something — Tuck has a broken toe that is off at a weird angle. It’s pretty nasty. Dana says he hasn’t been the same since he broke his toe, and he doesn’t blame him. Iaquinta celebrates at the horn, while Tuck points to his toe with a half-smile. He will indeed get a bit of reality-show fame for that injury, even if he loses the decision.

FIGHT 16

Akbarh Arreola: Experienced Mexican fighter with 26 fights and a win over Gabe Ruediger. Six losses, mostly to notable fighters such as Brent Weedman, Toby Imada (twice), Mac Danzig and most recently to Rony Torres in Shooto Brazil.
Myles Jury: The first repeat contestant in TUF history. Inactive since September 2010; therefore, still unbeaten.

Jury flings himself forward for a takedown, then staves off a choke attempt. Faber says he was a commentator for Arreola’s fight in Brazil against Torres. Cruz knows both guys from San Diego — Jury is on his team. Jury also fends off an armbar. Mazzagatti gets impatient and stands them up. Jury takes him straight back down. Into guard, and Jury punches Arreola’s ribs.

Another standup, another Jury takedown. Dana says the obvious — Arreola needs to work on his wrestling. Unless Arreola lands something spectacular in the last minute, this is an easy decision. He doesn’t. Welcome back, Myles Jury. I’m so sure of it, I’m posting this before they announced the decision.

Overall, an intriguing show. They’ll surely tweak a few things the next time they try this, but it’s well worth watching. Some talented fighters moving on. Some need work.

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