Recapping Episode 1 of the new season of The Ultimate Fighter
The Ultimate Fighter returned Wednesday night with the premier episode of the 25th season. The episode kicked off with a recap of the history of some of the fighters on this season and what they went through after their time on the show. Then they introduced the two coached Cody “No Love” Garbrandt (11-0 Bantamweight Champion) and TJ Dillashaw (15-3 #2 Ranked Bantamweight). After the lengthy intro, we jumped right into he history of Jesse “JT Money” Taylor (30-15) and the history of him on the show and how he was removed from the finale. We then jumped into the backstory of James Krause (23-7) who is the only active UFC fighter on the cast. He explained how he had unfinished business inside the UFC and the $250k prize is a lot of money.
The backstory of Julian “Nitrane” Lane (11-7-1) was up next and they detailed his loss and his antics in the house. He detailed his reaction to the show and what happened after it. Dana White was then featured and introduced the season to the casemates. He also announced the grand total prize is $250,000 to the winner. Also in a stipulation, he announced every winner gets 10k per fight and after some negotiations, he added a 5k finishing bonus as well. 300k is by far the most any Ultimate Fighter winner has every won.
They then went into the back-story of the Dillashaw and Garbrandt rivalry. The Alpha male split and the accomplishments of both of these fighters. Dana then spoke about adding the Wild card fight for an additional quarterfinal matchup between two guys who lose in the first round. The first open workout ensued and talent evaluations were next. TJ introduced his assistant coaches including former UFC fighters Duane “Bang” Ludwig (21-14) and Eliot “The Fire” Marshall (10-4). Cody then introduced new Hall of Famer Urijah “The California Kid” Faber (34-10). And Danny Castillo. Cody then interviewed different fighters looking for their hopes of the season and why these guys were here.
TJ Dillashaw won the coin toss and chose to pick the first Fighter. The picks went
- James Krause – Dillashaw
- Seth Baczynski – Garbrandt
- Jesse Taylor – Dillashaw
- Medhi Baghdad – Garbrandt
- Ramsey Nijem – Dillashaw
- Eddie Gordon – Garbrandt
- Dhiego Lima – Dillashaw
- Hector Urbina – Garbrandt
- Joe Stevenson – Dillashaw
- Hayder Hassan – Garbrandt
- Tom Gallicchio – Dillashaw
- Julian Lane – Garbrandt
- Gilbert Smith – Dillashaw
- Justin Edwards – Garbrandt
Cody immediately picked the First fight and it put Gilbert Smith (12-6) the last pick for Team Dillashaw vs. Seth Baczynski (20-14) from Team Garbrandt.
Dillashaw then chose James Krause (23-7) from his team and Hector Urbina (17-10) from team Garbrandt.
After the first commercial the fighters were shown finally entering the house and picking their sleeping arrangements and discussing what this opportunity means to them. They went to the first training session for Team Garbrandt and showed that Hector Urbina is still almost 25lbs overweight with just days before his first fight. Then Cody talked about his thought process in coaching and delved into the matchups themselves.
Team Dillashaw then entered the gym at the end of the training session for Team Garbrandt. Dillashaw was shown explaining the break up between himself and Team Alpha Male placing a lot of blame on Urijah Faber and an ultimatum. They cut to the scene from the season of the show that featured Conor McGregor calling TJ a snake, which is just continuing to build this narrative between the 2 coaches. Dillashaw then went in and broke down the fights in his mind.
The show came back form commercial with a back-story of one of the fighters in the first fight Gilbert Smith. He explained why he is here for his family and showed a little more of his backstory. He talked about making his kids proud and that being his ultimate goal. A one on one for TJ Dillashaw and Smith was next and TJ and Gilbert both breaking down the fight.
They then cut to a commercial and came back with Baczynski’s back-story. Cody broke down his thoughts about Seth being the better of the two fighters and potentially the most complete fighter on his team. Seth then gave his history on the show and how he was disqualified for an illegal soccer kick. They also detailed his actual UFC career and how he performed in the UFC after the show.
Seth then gave a recap of some personal issues regarding his sister and her unfortunate passing. It was a very emotional scene and really interesting to see a totally different side of his world. The show then detailed his home life and his day-to-day life in Arizona.
They came back from commercial and started to detail the Hector Urbina weight cutting issue. He was still roughly 15lbs off according to the conversations and was struggling to get under 186lbs. They went back to the house and Urbina was eating a very small meal and then it went to him talking about his family and being here for his brothers. With only 1 day before the weigh in Hector was still working on cutting the weight and was really being pushed by assistant coach Danny Castillo to lose the weight. In the middle of the weight cut, Urbina began to contemplate if making the weight was possible as they went to commercial. Coming back from commercial Urbina was on the couch and was talking about not making the weight and he then pulled Cody aside to tell him he had pulled out of the fight due to not being able to make weight. After they got Cody’s reaction to it they went to all of the fighters in the middle and Dana White walking in. Dana called Hector to the middle and asked him some questions. Dana then sent Hector home and told him how dangerous it was to try and cut that much weight and how he stole the opportunity from someone else.
Dana then called a meeting between the 2 coaches. They immediately asked Cody whom he wanted out of the alternates and he chose Johnny Nunez. When Dillashaw told Krause about the fight being moved back a week he was pretty upset regarding having to wait. Cody was then shown calling up Johnny to let him know he was going to come in as the alternate. Nunez came in only 7 pounds over weight. Nunez comes in from season 22 of the show where he was eliminated.
They came back from the commercial with Gilbert Smith detailing his weight cut and the emotions he had during this time. Gilbert came out in his boxers and started to trash talk to some of the fighters on team Garbrandt while they were playing pool. While at the gym Gilbert was talking to all of team Dillashaw and it was overheard by Seth who confronted him and the whole team in the locker room. The two traded some barbs and it was really getting personal with Gilbert talking about beating guys who had beat Seth in the past. Gilbert then came out onto the floor and was looking to apologize but Seth was having none of it so the guys had to be separated.
While preparing to get weighed in they continued to talk trash in the hallway. Cody and Gilbert started trading barbs and Cody and TJ started jawing back and forth. Things got really heated and Cody then grabbed TJ by the throat as it cut to commercial. On the return, they set it up again and they cut to Cody attacking TJ and the fighters then pulling the two apart. Eventually cooler heads somewhat prevailed and they went to the weigh-ins with Seth who weighed in at 170.5lbs. Gilbert weighed in at 174.5lbs. They stared down and Seth continued to talk trash.
We arrived at the day of the fight and both fighters preparing for the first fight on season 25. Dillashaw talked about Cody not being in his fighter’s corner for the fight and called him fake for that.
Herb Dean was the third man in the Octagon for this matchup. What has become standard in the show the fight is 2 rounds with the possible for a sudden death round 3. The fighters circled and felt each other out for the first 30 second before a nice low kick came from Gilbert. They clinched against the cage and both traded some really good shots in close. Gilbert looked for a takedown but Seth stuffed it. Back on the feet, they broke and Gilbert landed some good shots and shot for a takedown and ate some serious punches and elbows from Seth before securing the takedown and taking Seth’s back. Seth was able to battle back to his feet but was then thrown to the floor. Smith looked for a rear naked choke but never had it fully locked in. Smith really controlled the fight on the ground and searched for submissions and landed some nice ground and pound from the back until the round came to an end. Round 2 started with both fighters trading punches. Smith landed a nice body kick and then shot in for a takedown and secured it. Seth was able to battle back to his feet and locked in a guillotine but after 30 seconds he had to let go. Smith then went to work and kept Seth at bay on the mat. Seth battled back to his feet but was thrown back down rather quickly. Smith just stayed in Seth’s guard and continued to throw punches and pound out the round. The judges scored the fight for Gilbert Smith. A big upset for the first fight and taking out a big contender in Seth. They showed the reaction of both fighters and teams. The next fight announcement was made and they selected Tom Gallicchio from Team Dillashaw, which led to more trash talk between Cody and TJ. Eddie Gordon was selected from Team Garbrandt. The episode game to and end with more trash talking between the coaches.
Rapid Reaction: This was a really good season premiere from the UFC. The drama between the coaches really will be prominent in this season and it makes sense with a bunch of veterans in the house. This will be a fun season and hopefully, with the matchups and the money on the line the fighters won’t hold back in the cage. 2 hours was a lot for a premiere, but it certainly delivered as far as a way to kickoff the season.