Following an explosive debut episode of The Ultimate Fighter, Team Dillashaw looks to go 2-0 against Team Garbrandt this week, as Tom Gallicchio gets the call to take on former show winner Eddie Gordon in the next tournament matchup.
Gallicchio hopes to upset Gordon following a similar situation that saw Gilbert Smith, the last pick for Team Dillashaw, knock off Cody Garbrandt's top pick Seth Baczynski in the first fight of the season. It was probably a worst-case scenario for Garbrandt, who already suffered through quite a few trials and tribulations during his first few days as coach on the show.
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Not only did Garbrandt lose his No. 1 overall pick, but he also saw Hector Urbina drop out of the competition after he was unable to make weight for his scheduled bout against James Krause in the opening round. With Urbina gone, Garbrandt selected season 19 competitor Johnny Nunez to join his team for the remainder of the show, but it's been rough going for the bantamweight champion while facing off with his former teammate and friend TJ Dillashaw.
As tough as things have been for Garbrandt, the exact opposite could be said for Dillashaw, who not only picked the team he wanted but also managed to get a win in the opening fight of the season as he looks to build momentum going into this week. Of course, Dillashaw did have to deal with a physical altercation with Garbrandt, who grabbed him by the throat ahead of the weigh-ins in what almost resulted in a full blown brawl between the two bantamweights.
Dillashaw will try to keep his emotions in check in the second episode as he prepares Gallicchio for the fight while also dealing with more fallout from his exit from Team Alpha Male more than a year ago.
One of the biggest stories going into the season was Dillashaw's split with the Sacramento-based team headed up by former WEC champion and 2017 UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber. Dillashaw cut his teeth under Faber after he was recruited to the gym right out of college, but he eventually became very close with head coach Duane "Bang" Ludwig, who became a mentor and friend to him en route to winning the bantamweight title. When Ludwig left the team, Dillashaw started following him out to his new home in Colorado while splitting time between the two gyms to get ready for his fights. Eventually, Dillashaw opted to leave Team Alpha Male permanently to begin training full-time with Ludwig and the Elevation Fight Team, which includes several UFC stalwarts, including Matt Brown and Neil Magny.
Needless to say, the split was not amicable and the two sides have been bickering about it ever since. The latest episode will certainly dive even deeper into what happened behind the scenes when Dillashaw decided to leave Team Alpha Male and the reaction he received from Faber, Garbrandt and the rest of his former teammates.
Elsewhere this week, we'll get a closer look at the two fighters competing for a spot in the next round of the tournament.
Eddie Gordon looks to make good on his return to The Ultimate Fighter after winning season 19 just a few years ago. Gordon was still relatively young in his career when he stormed through the competition that season, but unfortunately, he was never able to duplicate that same success once he arrived in the UFC. Gordon previously competed as a middleweight, but after he was released from the UFC, he opted to move down to 170 pounds, where he's competing on the show.
Gordon knows that this opportunity cannot be squandered, especially considering he has a chance to become the first ever two-time champion of The Ultimate Fighter if he can make his way through the tournament.
Gordon trains with a long list of UFC stars, including former welterweight champion Matt Serra, as well as former middleweight king Chris Weidman. Gordon is certainly more seasoned now than he was during his previous stint on the show, but he still has to translate that talent into the Octagon when he faces Gallicchio this week.
Speaking of Gallicchio, he makes his return to the show after coming up short during his season when The Ultimate Fighter pit the best competitors from Europe against their counterparts in the United States. Oddly enough, during that season Gallicchio was coached by Faber and his staff, but this time around he's going up against them while working with Dillashaw and his team.
When he's not on the show, Gallicchio works with multi-time title challenger Dan Henderson and his squad at Team Quest in Temecula, Calif. Gallicchio looked like a dark horse contender during his original stint on the show, but he wasn't able to make good after losing in the opening round of the tournament. Now Gallicchio is getting a second chance, but he certainly has a tall mountain to climb by facing Gordon.
Gordon is a powerful striker with very heavy hands and he'll definitely be the bigger fighter, considering he used to compete at middleweight. Gordon has continued to evolve in his overall fight game, but there's little doubt that his best weapons remain the punching power he possesses on the feet as well as a controlling clinch game against the fence. If there's one area where Gordon has struggled it's been his defensive ground game and that's where Gallicchio will certainly try to take this fight if he gets the chance.
Gallicchio is a smaller welterweight, but he possesses very dangerous submission skills, with plenty of grappling in his background. Gallicchio nearly pulled off a submission during his first stint on The Ultimate Fighter, but burned his legs out while trying to fish for a rear naked choke. Assuming Gallicchio has fixed those deficiencies, he will undoubtedly look for a similar attack to defuse Gordon's striking attack before he has a chance to land the knockout blow.
Can Gallicchio pull off the upset and put Team Dillashaw ahead with a commanding 2-0 lead or will Team Garbrandt get on the board with Gordon, one of the early favorites to make serious waves in this competition?
It all goes down tonight when The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption returns with a brand new episode at 10pm ET on FS1.