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411's The Ultimate Fighter 17 Report 01.22.13
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 01.22.2013





The Ultimate Fighter 17: Team Jones vs Team Sonnen, Episode 1

Welcome to 411 MMA's full report of the premiere episode of season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter. For the third season in a row, I'll be covering the show for you, and, as you can probably expect if you've read any of my Five Quick Rounds columns, I'm pretty excited about this season as a fan of both Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen. I'm hoping that all the talk from Bones and Chael about how tough this season's tournament was wasn't just hyperbole, as each of the last two seasons have had their lackluster moments (although last season was a definite improvement from the Live season). At any rate, let's get this show on the round, shall we?



Meet the Cast:

Coaches

TEAM JONES
Jon Jones, Head Coach
Stonehorse Goeman, Muay Thai coach
John Woods
Bubba Jenkins, Wrestling coach
Frank Mir, Jiu Jitsu coach


TEAM SONNEN
Chael Sonnen, Head Coach
Randy Couture
Vinny Magalhaes, Jiu Jitsu coach
Mike Dolce, Strength and conditioning coach/dietician
Clayton Hires, Striking coach
Scott McQuary
Jamie Huey, Striking coach
Dan Henderson


Fighters (Middleweights)
Dylan Andrews (16-4-1)
Kito Andrews (9-2)
Luke Barnatt (5-0)
Leo Bercier (7-2)
Ryan Bigler (9-3)
Kevin Casey (5-2)
Adam Cella (4-0)
Zak Cummings (15-3)
Andy Enz (6-1)
Nik Fekete (5-1)
Kelvin Gastelum (5-0)
Uriah Hall (7-2)
Collin Hart (4-1-1)
Clint Hester (7-3)
Jake Heun (3-2)
Mike Jasper (6-0)
Nicholas Kohring (3-0)
Robert "Bubba" McDaniel (20-6)
Fraser Opie (10-5)
Mike Persons (3-0)
Jimmy Quinlan (3-0)
Scott Rosa (4-1)
Joshua Samman (9-2)
Gilbert Smith Jr. (5-1)
Eldon Sproat (3-1)
Tor Troeng (15-4-1)
Eric Wahlin (5-1)
Timothy Williams (7-1)

We start with Chael, Bones, and Dana talking about how grueling the tournament is, intercut with fighters getting ready to fight and clips from the fights (I'm assuming). And now we get some snippets from the fighters, including a guy who lost his house, his job, and his wife, another who grew up on powdered milk and spam and doesn't want his kids to have to do that.

FADE IN: Shots of Vegas, as well as guys checking into hotels, and Dana explains that they let the fighters bring in family and friends to watch the elimination fights. Dana says it'll be a huge motivating factor and talks about the contract and the custom Harley-Davidson. Bones, minus homeless man beard, is walking around the gym, checking things out, followed by Chael coming in, and we get the first face-off between the coaches, including a handshake and hug. They seem friendly enough as they look at the Harleys. Dana explains how Hendo blew out his knee and he couldn't get anyone to fight, except for Chael, but Bones turned the fight down, which led to them being selected as coaches. Chael says he hasn't been around Bones, and he'll get to know him throughout the course of the show, but he won't make the mistake of thinking they're friends. Jones says he's never spent this much time with somebody before fighting them before, with the exception of Rashad, and he says it was hard to fight Rashad, but he doesn't like Chael, so it'll probably be easier. Dana says he thinks they'll both be good coaches because they're so competitive.

The fighters walk in and Dana lines them up on the mats and gives them the welcome speech, introducing the coaches. I'm surprised it took six minutes for Dana to drop an F-bomb. Dana talks about how the winning fighter and winning coach will each get their own custom Harley and we've got F-bomb number two. He wishes them luck and we get straight to fight day. We get brief shots of fighters getting ready and friends and family filling the stands, and Dana walks in to cheers from the crowd. Jake Huen is happy that his friends came to see him, and he talks about coming from Alaska, playing football for Hawaii, and meeting Chris Leben. Adam Cella talks about being a fat kid and going to see a fight live, and that's what he wanted to do and he turned out to be pretty good at it. Huen, aka the Honey Bear, says he puts his fist in his opponents' fac

Middleweight bout: Jake Huen vs Adam Cella

Round 1: Huen with a kick, and another, and an attempt at a takedown. They separate and Cella comes forward with strikes of his own. They brawl a bit in the center and Huen glances Cella with a head kick. They slow down a bit and Cella lands a leg kick punch combination. Cella lands some decent shots as Huen misses a takedown, but he takes Cella down on his next attempt and works from side control. Cella gets to guard and then gets an armbar from a scramble. Huen picks him up and slams him down, but Cella hangs on and Huen has to tap!

Official Result - Winner: Adam Cella by Submission (Armbar)

Well that was quick. Adam says he feels great and he wasn't nervous until five minutes before the fight but it's gone now and that was the first obstacle. Zak Cummings lives with his wife, who is a clinical pharmacist and a bigger UFC fan than him. He thinks he can win the show and he doesn't think anyone there can beat him. Nik Fekete talks about his family being everything to him, working as a bouncer and a host at nightclubs to make ends meet, and he's anxious for this opportunity. He wants to win to get his life in order financially.

Middleweight bout: Zak Cummings vs Nik Fekete

Round 1: Fekete comes out with a kick feint and Cummings just catches him! He's down and Cummings lands some brief ground and pound before being waved off!

Official Result - Winner: Zak Cummings, TKO (Punches)

Zak's ready to win the whole thing and keep on winning. This is baby steps and he wants to hold that strap. Man, Fekete's got a brutal mouse under his eye. Eldon Sproat, from Hawaii, grew up doing rodeo and he says Hawaii had cowboys before Texas did, which I doubt. He talks about training in a garage with no mats or anything and having to work for everything he's ever gotten. Kevin Casey grew up in a single family household without a father, and he says MMA helped him balance out his anger issues. He grew up around the Gracie family which is how he got into MMA. He says this opportunity has been a long time coming and he wants to represent his family and the Gracie family. Casey coming out in the PRIDE shirt!

Middleweight bout: Eldon Sproat vs Kevin Casey

Round 1: Eldon comes out with a monster kick to the ribs, but we're getting the "NOS Performance Highlights" version of the fight, so we see Kevin take Eldon down and work some ground and pound and eventually get in a rear naked choke for the win, but he also got a pretty decent cut over his eye in the process.

Official Result - Winner: Kevin Casey, Submission (Rear naked choke)

Scott Rosa says he trains on his own, in a buddy's garage, and it comes naturally to him. Bones and Dana are talking about how Rosa is mugging for all of the cameras. Tor Troeng is a mathematics engineer from Sweden, and his nickname is "the Hammer".

Middleweight bout: Scott Rosa vs Tor Troeng

Another NOS Performance Highlights fight - Tor with a nice front kick, but Scott answers with a combination. Tor goes for the takedown, but Scott locks in a guillotine, only for Tor to go for a kimura. He stands up and drops down with a brutal punch. He locks in a choke and wins.

Official Result - Winner: Tor Troeng, Submission (Rear naked choke)

Middleweight bout: Clint Hester vs Fraser Opie

And a third NOS Performance Highlights fight - Clint with a big kick and he batters Fraser's ribs. Clint slips a punch, scores a big takedown, lands some ground and pound, throws a nice suplex, and he absolutely controls Fraser. Jones is giving Clint advice throughout the fight and he and Chael banter a bit about how much Jones wants Clint on his team.

Official Result - Winner: Clint Hester, Decision

Ryan Bigler, from Guam, talks about how hard it is to have the weight of his small island on his back and trying to put them on the map. He wants to make history for Guam and he's hoping for the best. Bubba McDaniel talks about how close he is with his mom and sister and how he made a lot of trouble for himself when he was younger, and how hard it's been being away from his family for a year to try to stay in the sport. McDaniel is a training partner of Jones at Greg Jackson's and Jones says if Bubba's on, he's on.

Middleweight bout: Ryan Bigler vs Bubba McDaniel

Round 1 Recap: Bigler with a leg kick, and we cut to Dana. Back to the Performance Highlights version. Bubba works some dirty boxing and looks for the takedown but Bigler defends. Bigler with the takedown and he works for the guillotine but they're back on their feet as the round ends after a scramble. Dana disparaging the round for being all up against the fence, but he thinks Bigler won with the takedown at the end.

Round 2 Recap: Chael needs Jones about Bubba's unexciting performance as he whiffs on some strikes and they clinch against the cage. Bubba picks up Bigler and slams him to the mat and he's working from side control but not doing much with it. In half-guard and Bubba starts teeing off on Bigler, who stops fighting back and the fight is stopped.

Official Result - Winner: Bubba McDaniels, TKO (Punches)

Chael talks about how Bones has to take Bubba or it'll be weird for the next ten years of his training, which gets a laugh out of Dana. Josh Samman has tried out for TUF four times now and he's determined to win. His girlfriend talks about how she used to shy away from the fights but now she's really into it. Samman says he wants to look back and know he did everything he could to win. Leo Bercier talks about growing up on an impoverished reservation, and how the stereotypes about Native Americans being good for nothing drunks isn't true. He's got warrior in his blood and he's looking to prove it.

Middleweight bout: Josh Samman vs Leo Bercier

Round 1: Josh backs Leo up with some footwork before shooting for a takedown, which he gets. Josh works some punches to the ribs, holds Leo down, then lands some more to the ribs, then another set to the ribs, and that's going to sting. Leo working for the kimura to no avail, but Josh gets the mount, yells "Are you guys ready?", and lands the SAKU~! double punches. Leo gives up his back, Josh locks in the hooks, and starts yelling as he rains down punches (including more double punches!) and the fight is waved off.

Official Result - Winner: Josh Samman, TKO (punches)

Dana disparages the Saku punches - unacceptable! Chael goes over to personally congratulate Josh, and Bones says he might have to pick Chael's favorite guy. Kito Andrews talks about being a single father and winning his 11 and 8 year old sons in a custody battle. He gives them a pep talk and talks about how he's all they have, how he's their rock, and then he talks to them about how he wouldn't be doing that if he didn't think it would work. He's the gentleman from the intro who grew up on food stamps, powdered milk, and spam. Kelvin Gastelum is a bail bondsman from Arizona and he works a desk job for 8 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week, and then he goes to the gym. He talks about his mom working three jobs and being raised by his sister and he is doing this for them. Kito says his dad died when he was six and he's now 34 and still learning to be a man and a role model for his kids and he's doing this for them.

Middleweight bout: Kito Andrews vs Kelvin Gastelum

Fight Recap: Kelvin comes out and backs Kito off, and we switch to Performance Highlights mode again. Kito with a wicked front kick that would've decapitated Kelvin if he had landed it flush. Kito picked Kelvin apart in the first round but in the second round, Kelvin got some takedowns and ended the second round in control, which was enough to earn him the decision.

Official Result - Winner: Kelvin Gastelum, Decision

Middleweight bout: Jimmy Quinlan vs Mike Persons

Fight Recap: Jimmy with a big slam takedown, then another trip takedown, then he gets back mount and pounds away before looking for a choke. He switches back to punches and the fight is stopped.

Official Result - Winner: Jimmy Quinlan, TKO (Punches)

Uriah Hall came to NYC from Jamaica as a kid and he got in a lot of trouble as a kid because he was picked on. His mom took him to a psychologist who said he had no self-confidence; a martial arts studio was next door and it's taken over his life ever since. Andy Enz talks about how his dad instilled him with a great work ethic and he's so happy to have his dad there and he's going to win for him.

Middleweight bout: Uriah Hall vs Andy Enz

Round 1: Uriah jumps forward but then settles for a jab. They trade punches and Hall gets a takedown, but he does nothing with it except eat elbows and punches to the head. Andy looks for the triangle but quickly pops back up. Hall lands a couple of punches and then takes him down again, and this time he actually lands some punches. Hall lets Andy up but lands a kick to the head as he's getting up. They clinch against the cage and Hall lands a punch to the ribs. They break and trade punches but Andy eats a mean punch-kick-punch combination, only to drop his hands and come forward. Hall takes him down again, gets his back, and looks to lock in the hooks, but Andy reverses into guard. He lands some punches and gets to half guard, but he tries for some kind of arm submission, only to get caught in a triangle. He looks like he's going out, but Hall tries for some punches and he slips out the back door and gets back to his feet. Andy locks in a standing head and arm choke but the round ends.

Round 2: Andy eats another head kick before looking for an ankle pick, but Hall punches him a few times and they end up scrambling with Andy on all fours with Hall on his back. Andy gets back up and glances Hall with a back elbow and they break. Andy misses on a head kick but Hall misses on a spinning back kick. Andy jumps forward for a takedown that goes nowhere, but then he sets up a shot with some punches and gets his takedown. Andy is exhausted though and he can't do much with it, but he looks like he's got a choke in, only for Hall to get out and stack him up on the mat. The round ends with Hall in back control.

Official Result - Winner: Uriah Hall, Decision

After the fight, Hall and Enz shake hands and hug and Enz tells Hall to win it all. I'm guessing Andy will be a wild card fighter, since they brought 28 guys to the house, which would only make seven per team. Gilbert Smith with his family and he talks about how someone told him not to be afraid of his dreams and he chokes up and says it meant a lot and now he's not afraid. Eric Wahlin says he's leaving behind a lot of bills, he's not sure how he's making his child support payments but he has, and he's losing his house. He gives the last of his money to his friend and says he doesn't care what his friend does with it, as long as he does something good. He says he has his son, his church, and his God, and it's time that fighting started to give back to him. Gilbert says he's made peace with the worst possible outcome and even if he loses, he goes home to his beautiful wife and kids and good jobs. Wahlin says these guys are big and athletic and he's not sure if he can go toe-to-toe physically with them, but he's got a skill set that can possibly hurt them. He says he's not afraid to get punched.

Middleweight bout: Gilbert Smith vs Eric Wahlin

Round 1: Wahlin avoids a punch and a kick and lands a body kick of his own, but Smith catches the follow up and lands a big takedown. Eric stays calm and looks for a submission, but Gilbert powers through into half guard. He moves into side control and looks to take crucifix position, but he ends up back in half guard where he works short elbows. Gilbert looks to have a head and arm choke in, but when Eric scrambles, he really tightens it down, and he puts Eric out! Eric was punching while unconscious, according to Dana.

Official Result - Winner: Gilbert Smith, Submission (Head and arm triangle choke)

Big muscular guy from Colorado? Hope his cardio's better than Carwin, and that he's less injury prone. Nicholas Kohring says he's a momma's boy and hates being away from home, but he's been training and fighting for six years and he wants to make it to the big show. Luke Barnatt is 6'6" and was a marketing executive, but he up and quit to start fighting. His mom's a Jehovah's Witness and he watched one fight with him and hid her head in the pillow so he didn't watch anymore with her. He said he's forgotten what it's like to have money and he's training on scraps, but he'd rather do what he's meant to do than conform to society. Kohring says he wants to see what God has in store for him.

Middleweight bout: Nicholas Kohring vs Luke Barnatt

Fight Recap: Luke working the jab and he lands a flying knee that stuns Nicholas for a minute. Luke is just swarming Nicholas and we got into Performance Highlights mode again. Nicholas keeps swinging though, but Luke is too much. Nicholas lands a couple of shots, but Luke fighting long, landing knees, kicks, and punches.

Official Result - Winner: Luke Barnatt

Middleweight bout: Dylan Andrews vs Timothy Williams

Fight Recap: Dylan lands a big punch but Tim fights through it and looks for a takedown and he gets the takedown, but on his second takedown try, he falls backwards and Dylan lands in mount.

Official Result - Winner: Dylan Andrews, Decision

Middleweight bout: Collin Hart vs Mike Jasper

Fight Recap: Collin misses on a leg kick and they tie up, and according to Bones, he dominated with dirty boxing and a good ground game and he reminds Jones of Randy Couture.

Official Result - Winner: Collin Hart, Submission (Rear naked choke)

Kudos to the production teams from the UFC and FX, as this felt significantly faster than the premiere episode of the Live season (and actually faster than any other premiere episode I've watched previously, actually). There were some little touches that made this episode seem less repetitive and I'm looking forward to see if they'll be able to continue that with the regular episodes, which are extremely formulaic by nature. And apparently we're picking teams this week as well. I believe they did that last season, as well, but Mark Radulich covered the first episode, so I'm not totally sure.

The coaches debate on who they want, and Dana talks about bringing the Wild Card back, and he and the coaches will choose who gets to come back, so they'd better come to fight. He talks about the $5000 bonus for finishes and $25000 for the best finishes of the season.

Chael wins the toss and opts to choose the first fighter, and he picks Luke based on his cardio. Jones takes Clint Hester based on his size and athleticism. Chael takes Uriah Hall, who wanted to be on Team Jones. Jones takes Josh, Chael takes , Jones takes Bubba, Chael takes Tor, Jones takes Gilbert, Chael takes Jimmy, Bones takes Collin, Chael takes Kevin, Jones takes , Chael takes Kelvin, and Jones is left with Dylan. Bones gets to pick the first fight and he chooses Gilbert Smith vs Luke Barnatt. Gilbert says he's fought tall guys his entire career and Team Jones wants the sweep, while Luke says muscles don't win fights and he wants to take control for Team Sonnen. Chael says once he gains control, he doesn't give it back.

NEXT WEEK ON THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER: The fighters move into the house, we get our first fight, and some point this season, Dana sees the most brutal knockout of his fight career, much less on TUF! (Someone leaves in an ambulance!)

For your convenience, here are the teams as they stand now (color coded for easy reading):

TEAM JONES
Clint Hester
Josh Hamman
Bubba McDaniel
Gilbert Smith Jr
Collin Hart
Adam Cella
Dylan Andrews


TEAM SONNEN
Luke Barnatt
Uriah Hall
Zak Cummings
Tor Troeng
Jimmy Quinlan
Kevin Casey
Kelvin Gastelum


And here's the breakdown of the fighters who made it and those who didn't:

Fighters (Middleweights)
Dylan Andrews (16-4-1)
Kito Andrews (9-2)
Luke Barnatt (5-0)
Leo Bercier (7-2)
Ryan Bigler (9-3)
Kevin Casey (5-2)
Adam Cella (4-0)
Zak Cummings (15-3)
Andy Enz (6-1)
Nik Fekete (5-1)
Kelvin Gastelum (5-0)
Uriah Hall (7-2)
Collin Hart (4-1-1)
Clint Hester (7-3)
Jake Heun (3-2)
Mike Jasper (6-0)
Nicholas Kohring (3-0)
Robert "Bubba" McDaniel (20-6)
Fraser Opie (10-5)
Mike Persons (3-0)
Jimmy Quinlan (3-0)
Scott Rosa (4-1)
Joshua Samman (9-2)
Gilbert Smith Jr. (5-1)
Eldon Sproat (3-1)
Tor Troeng (15-4-1)
Eric Wahlin (5-1)
Timothy Williams (7-1)

KEY: Fighters with name crossed out have been eliminated from the competition





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