TUF 13 Diary: Episode 1 Recap and Analysis

I was first introduced to the sport of Mixed Martial Arts in 1994, when I was only six years old. My uncle owned an illegal Pay-Per-View black box and recorded all the early UFC events. Out of curiosity, I used to watch these recorded tapes. I was in awe of Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock, to me they were superheroes, Street Fighter II characters that came to life. I looked at these Ultimate Fighting Championship events as real life Bloodsport. Just like the movie, fighters of all styles, races, and cultures fought to prove their superiority to the world.

Back then I really didn’t understand the sport much, I just thought it looked cool. The internet wasn’t in every household yet, there weren’t sites like Lowkick that had the latest in news and opinion. The closest thing we had to cover the sport of MMA at the time, was Black Belt Magazine. The UFC video game for PS1 really helped me a lot, because of it I grew up with a better understanding of the sport.

But it wasn’t until 2005, with the introduction of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter when I really began to truly understand what goes into Mixed Martial Arts training. For the first time, the public got to witness the preparation going into a fight, the strategies devised, and what it took to truly be a professional fighter.

Fast forward to now, it’s been six years, and we are into the thirteenth season. We’ve seen many legendary fighters become coaches, many from TUF have become big stars in the UFC, and today the sport of MMA is bigger than ever. Two coaches, one goal. To crown a new shining star in the world of Mixed Martial Arts.

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Who knew we’d have former WWE Champion Brock Lesnar win the UFC Championship, lose it, and become a coach on the reality show. To get one step closer back into the title picture, he has to go through the opposing coach Junior dos Santos. “Cigano” has been fighting a lot longer than Brock and trains with the legendary Black House camp. Both men are contrasting styles and are going to pass that on to the young hopefuls this season.

Well enough of the long introduction, let’s get into episode one of TUF 13!

Notes from the first episode of TUF 13:

-This year Dana White announced to the fighters that they don’t need to fight their way into the house. Everyone who stepped into the UFC gym automatically gets in like the first two seasons. But there will be a “wild card” selection as introduced in the eleventh season.

-As soon as the fighters were introduced to this season’s coaches, they went straight to work. Brock’s team of coaches picked a few random fighters and put them through physicals to test their conditioning.

-JDS admitted that he didn’t speak very good English, but at his side to help his team understand him, is wrestling coach Lew Polley.

-With the flip of a coin by Dana White, Brock Lesnar got first pick for his team. Lesnar selected Len Bentley and Junior dos Santos for his first pick selected Shamar Bailey.

-During the physical evaluation, Team Lesnar pick Myles Jury torn his ACL and was medically not cleared to fight. But Dana White has left the door open for him in the future due to his solid pro record. To replace Myles Jury, Chuck O’Neil was sent in to be his replacement on Team Lesnar.

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-Since Team Lesnar got first pick in the fighter draft, Team JDS was able to pick the first fight. JDS got to match up his number one pick Shamar Bailey to take on Lesnar’s last pick Nordin Ashrih.

-For the first time in a long time, both coaches seemed very respectful of each other.

-We got a chance to get to know Nordin Ashrih and Shamar Bailey. Ashrih comes from Germany with a striking background and Bailey is an All-American wrestler. Classic clash of styles.

-The first round started with some aggressive striking, but eventually the fight was taken to the ground by Bailey. Shamar looked to be a much more superior fighter on the ground, with Ashrih having difficulty against the American wrestler. Majority of the round was spent on the ground, the pace being controlled by Shamar Bailey.

-Nordin Ashrih attempted a high kick early in the 2nd round, slipped, and found himself on the ground again. This time with Sharmar Bailey getting full mount, landing elbows, and even attempting a rear naked choke. Nordin attempted a rear naked submission, but found him self back on his back, again being controlled Bailey.

-Nearly the whole fight was spent on the ground, neither man was physically hurt but the lack of wrestling ability was the downfall for Nordin Ashrih this fight. Shamar Bailey won the Unanimous decision. Wasn’t the most exciting fight in TUF history, but a win is a win.

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-The episode ended with JDS’ team celebrating their first victory and Coach Lesnar expressing to his team the importance of wrestling in MMA.

-In upcoming episodes we can expect the usual drama in the gym and the TUF house. Teammates with personal beef, pranks, expletives, and appearances from Hall of Famer Matt Hughes are some of the upcoming highlights in future episodes.

Final Thoughts:

To be honest I didn’t know what to expect from the first episode of TUF 13. The formula for the show really hasn’t changed over the years, we can always expect the same sort of characters every year. But I’m really curious to see what both Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos will bring to the table as coaches. Judging from this episode, I think it’s safe to say we shouldn’t expect a war of words from both coaches. Instead, the show’s drama and story lines will be highlighted by this year’s cast.

For me it’s too early to tell who really stands out from the crowd, but I’m looking forward to seeing what type of talent this season brings. The fight between Shamar Bailey and Nordin Ashrih wasn’t my favorite fight in TUF history, but now I have a small idea of what Bailey is about going into this season, and a personal reminder of the power of wrestling in MMA. I’m looking forward to see what his striking looks like and the specialties of the other fighters.

Come back here next Thursday for another recap and analysis of The Ultimate Fighter 13.