Times are changing and The Ultimate Fighter has come a long way, but TUF 5 still ranks as the best season in the show’s history. Just ask Joey Elzea.
The 32-year-old Elzea moved in with his aunt and uncle in high school and after settling in with a family very attached to martial arts, it wasn’t long before he fell in love with the sport of MMA. It wasn’t Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris or Sonny Chiba who drove Elzea to the gym. It was Nate Diaz, Manny Gamburyan and Allen “Monstah Lobstah” Berube.
“I knew some of the guys who were champions around that time but I wasn’t an avid follower of the sport or fan,” Elzea explained. “I could watch it if it was on, but I wasn’t super into it. I got a lot more into it after I watched the season. And once I started training, then I got a lot more into it from there on out.”
One of the moments that drew Elzea in was actually a moment that could have been the biggest black eye on the sport at the time - the backyard brawl.
Understanding the irony of the situation, Elzea wants to be respected as an athlete but the flyweight sees the entertainment value of one of the most defining moments in the show’s history (for better or worse.)
“On one hand, stuff like that draws attention from everyone, but keeping that kind of stuff off the show keeps it more professional,” Elzea said. “I think that having a more professional aspect definitely gives the sport, in general, a better image, so I’m kind of torn because I definitely think it would bring eyes, but at what cost?”
Elzea has gone on to watch every season before and after the most star-studded season in the history of the show and doesn’t watch with the standpoint of, “this show will never be as good as season five” but with an open mind and thorough enjoyment for every aspect of the sport and lifestyle he is now fully immersed in thanks to one of everybody’s favorite seasons.
From the anarchy-like team picking to the 209 being cemented in MMA history, it comes as little surprise that Elzea would go into every fight with his roots anchored in TUF 5.
With all of the avenues to get to the UFC in modern times, fighters look forward to opportunities such as Dana White: Lookin’ For A Fight and Dana White’s Contender Series a little more than they may have looked at TUF in the past.
Not Elzea, however. The opportunity to live what drew him to the sport would be too good to pass up.
“The prospect of just the overall life experience, I don’t think I would be able to turn it down,” he explained. “I mean, what a crazy story that would be just to go through that experience of being there for that long with that many people with no contact with the outside world. And fighting potentially multiple times in a short period of time sounds like a crazy experience. I don’t think I’d be able to turn it down if it was offered to me.”
Will we one day see the “Bad Influence” in the TUF house? Only time will tell. Until then we’ll have him at Fury FC.
Catch Joey Alzea as he takes on Jonathan Davis at Fury FC 52 Sunday, October 17, ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!