Last night the first episode from TUF’s new “real time” format debuted, building on the success of the premiere featuring sixteen live scraps with each winner earning a spot inside the Ultimate Fighter 15 house. The show was full of highlights including a tense moment between coaches Urijah Faber-Dominick Cruz, as well as a competitor learning his father had passed away shortly after his qualifying victory and of course one man moving on to the quarterfinal round by picking up a second win in as many weeks.
Faber opted to make the first match-up instead of having #1 pick from the group, though in the end his decision didn’t work out as planned with Team Cruz’s James Vick picking up a beautiful knockout win over Daron Cruickshank after landing a flush knee in the opening frame. After the bout Cruz called on Justin Lawrence, who was his initial selection in the “draft”, for action on next weeks episode and then left Faber shaken by deferring to him for Lawrence’s opponent. When nobody on Team Faber volunteered and “The California Kid” could not come up with an adversary, bantamweight champion Cruz decided on Brazilian Cristiano Marcello for the honor.
Viewers also saw Michael Chiesa’s heartbreak unfold after finding out his sick father had passed away in the preceding days. Fortunately, UFC President Dana White showed up and gave him permission to go home to be with his family before returning to compete on the show.
Also worth noting, Faber had some harsh words for Cruz based on an interview with “The Dominator” alluded to the notion of Faber’s parents buying him his gym, saying families should be kept out of their rivalry.
Cruz’s Team: Justin Lawrence, Sam Sicilia, Myles Jury, Mike Rio, James Vick, Vinc Pichel, Chris Tickle, Jeremy Larsen
Faber’s Team: Al Iaquinta, Cristiano Marcello, Daron Cruickshank, Joe Proctor, Michael Chiesa, John Cofer, Andy Ogle, Chris Saunders
Advancing to Semifinal: James Vick
Eliminated: Daron Cruickshank
Team Records: Cruz 1, Faber 0
Next Week’s Fight: Cristiano Marcello vs. Justin Lawrence
MMATraining Take: The UFC hit it out of the park with last night’s episode. It was emotional, entertaining, and ended on a high note with Vick’s brutal finish of Cruickshank in addition to Faber being baffled by Cruz’s strategy. Brilliant stuff all around.