A massive upset rocked the Ultimate Fighter 24 competition a week ago, as No. 15 seed Eric Shelton pulled off a submission win over No. 2 seed Yoni Sherbatov, showing once again that rankings don't mean anything once the fighters step inside the Octagon together.
Shelton showed supreme confidence in the lead up to the fight and it paid off as he hurt Sherbatov several times on the feet before wrapping up the rear naked choke in the second round. Shelton's win also brought Team Benavidez back in the competition after a couple of tough losses early, and now the tournament is only 3-2 in favor of Team Cejudo.
This week, fortunes are reversed as Team Benavidez throws out a higher seed with No. 7 Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Ronaldo Candido taking on Team Cejudo underdog and No. 10 ranked Jaime Alvarez.
Candido joins the show from Brazil, where he had a very humble upbringing, but his mother cared for him and made sure he had everything he needed. Sadly, Candido says he didn't grow up spending much time with his father after his parents separated when he was just 11, but in recent years he's reconnected with him and that gives him one more reason to win this tournament, in order to make his family proud.
Eventually, Candido left his family's home in Sao Paulo and made his way to Rio de Janeiro, where he teamed up with coach Andre Pederneiras and his Nova Uniao squad, which includes interim featherweight champion Jose Aldo as well as strawweight title contender Claudia Gadelha.
Candido is a top level grappler and a former world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and Aldo trusted him so much that he made the current Ultimate Fighter contender his own grappling coach ahead of his last couple of fights. Candido worked with Aldo ahead of his first scheduled fight with Conor McGregor last July and then again in December. Candido once again teamed up with Aldo as he prepared for his UFC 200 showdown with Frankie Edgar, but he had to cut the training short so he could be a part of the show.
Candido's trip to Las Vegas for the tournament wasn't his first experience with The Ultimate Fighter, though. It was just a few months ago when Candido actually served as the grappling coach for Gadelha when she went up against Joanna Jedrzejczyk on season 23 of the show earlier this year. So Candido knows his way around the gym and he got acclimated to the climate and time difference once before, so that could give him an advantage throughout the rest of the tournament.
Candido lives full-time in Brazil, but his girlfriend is from the United States and lives in Michigan. According to Candido, they met while he was in Brazil but now she lives back at home and being separated from her is very tough on him. So this show is the ultimate motivation to not only win and get a title shot against Demetrious Johnson, but potentially relocate to the United States so they could be together full-time.
As far as what he brings into the fight, Candido's skills on the ground are unmatched and it's hard to argue that he is probably the best overall grappler in this competition. That being said, Candido still has a lot to learn on his feet, but thankfully, he has people like Aldo, who just happens to be one of the best strikers in the history of MMA, helping him get ready.
On the other side of the Octagon stands Jaime Alvarez, a 6-1 prospect who trains out of American Top Team in Florida. American Top Team has been regarded as one of the best gyms in all of MMA for more than 10 years, with a slew of top fighters calling the Florida facility home. Current welterweight champion Tyron Woodley trains out of American Top Team, as well as former champ Robbie Lawler. Current women's bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes is also a member of the team, along with others such as Jorge Masvidal, Thiago Alves, Yoel Romero and many, many more.
Alvarez is more of a pure mixed martial artist, without any one skill set that stands out above the others. That means Alvarez is very dangerous on his feet, he has solid wrestling and a good ground game. Alvarez certainly appears to be the more well rounded fighter and he's also one of the bigger flyweights in the competition. That size and power could give him an automatic advantage over Candido if the Brazilian can't drag the fight to the ground. Candido can't match Alvarez’s power, but his grappling will be the ultimate equalizer if he can draw the American into a ground battle.
Outside of the fight this week, the competitors will also be treated to a viewing party to watch UFC 200, which took place back in July. Now any kind of television after being trapped in the house for several weeks with no contact with the outside world would probably be a welcome change, but this event holds special meaning for both Candido and Alvarez ahead of their fight. Candido's teammate and student Jose Aldo fought Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 while Alvarez's training partner Amanda Nunes went for the bantamweight title in a bout against Miesha Tate.
It will certainly be team pride on the line when Candido and Alvarez watch their friends and training partners go to war during UFC 200.
Watching UFC 200 is not only a good break from the monotony of living in the house, but it will also get Candido and Alvarez truly prepared for war as they both look to punch a ticket to the next round. Every single fight thus far this season has ended in a finish, so Candido and Alvarez would certainly like to keep that streak alive.
Can the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace get this fight to the ground or will Alvarez show off his athleticism and power to pull off another upset? Tune into The Ultimate Fighter tonight at 10pm ET on FS1 to find out.