CAUTION: SPOILERS INCLUDED – The 13th season of The Ultimate Fighter is here and stepping up to lead 14 welterweights in their quest for a UFC contract and a spot in the history books with the likes of previous winners Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping, and Matt Serra are former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and number one contender Junior dos Santos.
“I ain’t here to make friends, I ain’t here to win new fans,” said Lesnar. “This is strictly business for me.
“Brock is a big name, very famous here in America, and I can beat him…in the show…and in the fight too,” said dos Santos.
The 14 competitors are understandably amped up as they make their way into the TUF Training Center in Las Vegas, and they get even more excited when UFC President Dana White tells them that they won’t have to fight to get into the house as was the custom in recent seasons.
After the coaches are introduced, the fighters get evaluated over the next two hours. Lesnar’s conditioning coach puts everyone through a heart rate evaluation, while dos Santos had his wrestling coach Lew Polley put the fighters through their paces in the Octagon.
“The difference between my style and Brock’s style is that Brock cares about more cardio than fight training.”
“We’re looking for guys that can win,” said Lesnar, who sees 9-4 vet Len Bentley as an early favorite.
During evaluations, San Diego’s Myles Jury bangs his knee up, but he’s apparently ready to go back to work, and after winning a coin toss, Lesnar gets the opportunity to make the first pick in team selections.
The first pick for Team Lesnar is Bentley.
“It blew my mind that they wanted me for the first pick, but at the same time it kinda boosted my confidence as well,” said Bentley.
Dos Santos’ first pick is Indiana’s Shamar Bailey, a veteran stablemate of UFC vet Chris Lytle.
“I’m very happy to be on Junior dos Santos’ team,” said Bailey. “I feel like I get along really well with Junior and his coaches, and they understand me a little better than Brock’s side.”
After the rest of the selections are made, the teams pan out as follows:
Team dos Santos
The two teams take separate floors in the TUF house, but there’s no time for getting acquainted, as the next morning it’s back to the gym, where dos Santos gets his team ready as he prepares to choose the first fight of the competition. Polley pushes the team hard, telling them that he wants a sweep of Team Lesnar.
Lesnar’s squad goes just as hard in their first training session, but he gets some bad news when he’s informed by Dr. Jeff Davidson that Jury tore his ACL and posterior horn of his meniscus. Davidson gives his opinion that Jury shouldn’t fight. And he won’t.
“The reality is, your knee is bad and you have to go get it fixed and get it rebuilt,” said White to Jury later that day. “And the positive side of this thing is, you’ve got a great record, you’re a young guy, you’re tough as nails, so you will be back. We will bring you back on another season of The Ultimate Fighter the next time we do your weight class.”
Coming in to replace Jury is Chuck O’Neil, and Lesnar puts him right to work with the rest of the squad.
On fight selection day, dos Santos throws his big gun into the Octagon right away, as he has number one pick Bailey take on Team Lesnar’s last pick, Asrih.
Bailey quickly takes the German fighter to the mat as the bout begins, and he works his way into side control. Asrih struggles to escape, but 90 seconds in he gets back to his feet. Bailey scores another takedown and keeps his foe there for the rest of the round, not allowing Asrih to get any offense going.
Asrih begins the second round with a high kick, trying to turn things around, but he misses and falls to the mat, allowing Bailey to get top position on the ground again. With a minute gone, Asrih springs around and tries to lock in a guillotine choke, but Bailey pulls loose and gets back in side control and then into the mount. Asrih turns to escape, and Bailey briefly takes his back, but then it’s to the mount again, where the Indiana product fires off strikes until the final bell sounds.
Not surprisingly, Bailey takes a shutout two round decision and moves to the next round of the competition, giving Team dos Santos an early 1-0 lead. Here’s how the teams look:
Nordin Asrih – Eliminated on episode one by Shamar Bailey
Team dos Santos
Shamar Bailey 1-0
For weekly recaps of The Ultimate Fighter, as well as fighter profiles, stay tuned to UFC.com.
TUF 13 Episode One Recap
By Thomas Gerbasi March 31, 2011