Following “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” Finale, FOX Sports 1 aired the season 19 premiere of “The Ultimate Fighter” featuring head coaches B.J. Penn and Frankie Edgar.
The show started off with UFC president Dana White introducing the coaches, who greeted each other with a friendly handshake before Penn thanked Edgar for the opportunity to meet him inside of the octagon again. Edgar revealed that he previously auditioned for season 5 of the reality series, where Penn served as a coach against Jens Pulver.
Without wasting much time, we got right in to the elimination fights with the 32 fighters competing for their spot in the fighter house.
Tyler King was the first fighter to face the camera, as he discussed his brief NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals. King was followed up by Daniel Spohn, who was in the hotel room FaceTiming with his wife and one of his four kids.
Tyler King vs. Daniel Spohn: Both of the men were very large light heavyweights, but Spohn made quick work of King by landing a devastating overhand right as King came charging in that turned out the lights and left King unconscious on the mat and landed him a trip in the ambulance. Spohn wins by KO.
Adrian Miles, a fighter who grew up being picked on, began fighting in an effort to defend himself from those who would pick on him. Mexican-born Hector Urbina, who turned pro after high school, was the man across the cage from Miles.
Adrian Miles vs. Hector Urbina: Miles stuffed a quick takedown, but Urbina was relentless and continued to press for the takedown. Urbina hit a switch to knock Miles off balance, and quickly grabbed a hold of Miles’ neck to lock in the fight-ending guillotine and earn a spot in the house. Urbina wins by submission.
Jake Huen was unable to get in the house back in season 17, but he was giving TUF another shot and was looking for his chance at redemption. Todd Monaghan was the next to be introduced, and he spends his free time as an evangelist holding Christian MMA camps.
Jake Huen vs. Todd Monaghan: After some wild exchanges, Huen dropped Monaghan with a solid shot and kept the pressure on until he landed in top control. Huen delivered some vicious elbows from the half guard, and unleashed a vicious flurry of shots while Monaghan got back to his feet. After fighting for a takedown, Monaghan once again found himself in bottom position but he was able to throw up a desperation armbar that forced Huen to tap. It was an impressive comeback for Monaghan. Monaghan wins by submission.
The UFC announced that pre-show favorite Cathal Pendred would get a bye week into the house after all of his opponents continued to get injured.
An emotion Roger Zapata left his newborn after three days, and that was his driving force to perform as well as he could during his run on TUF. His opponent was Tyler Minton, who also shed some tears before the fight.
Roger Zapata vs. Tyler Minton: This bout got the highlight treatmen, but Zapata was dominating the stand up. Minton’s face was battered and bloodied, while Zapata was showing very little damage on his face. Zapata wins by TKO.
We got a quick break to see why everyone on the red team was wearing short shorts, and it turns out one of the fighters decided it was a sign of good luck.
Former Bellator champion Lyman Good was up next, who took on Ian Stephens from Indianapolis.
Lyman Good vs. Ian Stephens: Stephens was able to dominate Good with his wrestling on way to an easy decision win. He finished by saying, “The Bellator champ doesn’t belong here. Stephens wins by decision.
Another favorite, Pendred’s teammate Chris Fields, was the next to enter the cage. He was set to take on family man Josh Stansbury. Before Fields’ fight, the camera shot to his teammates Pendred and UFC featherweight Conor McGregor anxiously watching on.
Chris Fields vs. Josh Stansbury: Despite moving up from middleweight, Fields was a lot larger than Stansburg. Fields ate some hard shots and crumbled to the mat, but he quickly recovered and was able to make his way back to his feet despite a relentless attack from Stansbury. A nut shot bought a quick halt to the fight, and once the action re-started Fields began to open up. Stansbury landed a big takedown, but blew out his knee in the process. Chris Fields wins by TKO (injury).
After the fight, despite Stansbury being in pain after blowing out his knee, Edgar joked that the loss came because Stansbury didn’t cut his shorts.
The youngest of ten kids, Anton Berzin, came to the United States from Russia. He was facing Cody Mumma, who was rocking some gnarly braids.
Anton Berzin vs. Cody Mumma: Berzin was showing some crisp striking from the outside, and he was able to stuff a takedown attempt from Mumma. Berzin worked to take Mumma’s back, got in his hooks and eventually was able to transition to the armbar to earn his spot in the house. Berzin wins by submission.
Tim Williams described his long road back to MMA, and he was also a fighter that lost while attempting to get in the TUF 17 house. His opponent was Bojan Velickovic, who took his time introducing himself instead taking the time to enjoy his girlfriend’s presence.
Tim Williams vs. Bojan Velickovic: This was the next fight to get the highlight treatment, with Williams earning the win while reminding Penn of Joe Lauzon, who he coached on season 5. Williams wins by TKO.
Matt Gabel vs. Eddie Gordon: Gordon is a training partner of UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman at Serra-Longo Fight Team, and he displayed some incredible power with crisp striking. Gordon wins by decision.
John Poppie discussed his issues with being bi-polar and explained that MMA helps him find balance, while his opponent Josh Clark disabled landmines in the army.
John Poppie vs. Josh Clark: After a strong first for Clark, Poppie came back to force a sudden victory round. In the final round, Clark locked in a triangle and transitioned to an arm bar to force the tap and earn his spot in the house. Clark wins by submission.
Patrick Walsh, a former Ohio State wrestler, was hoping to make Boston proud. His opponent was Doug Sparks, who wore fuzzy ears on top of his head for some odd reason. Apparently Sparks is half human, after his father knocked up a polar bear?
Patrick Walsh vs. Doug Sparks: Word of advice, kids: Being a polar bear doesn’t make you tougher. It gets you thrown onto your back and submitted by a kimura. Well, as long as Patrick Walsh is across the cage from you Sparks did have a nice guillotine attempt, though. It just wasn’t enough. Walsh wins by submission.
Daniel Vizcaya spent his time in his hotel room shadow boxing and talking with his family over the phone. His opponent, Matt van Buren talked about being short on money, which is enough motivate anyone.
Daniel Vizcaya vs. Matt van Buren: van Buren had a huge reach advantage over his opponent and was the more physically imposing, which showed as soon as he stuffed a takedown attempt and landed some vicious elbows with his back against the cage. Van Buren must have spent some time watching Travis Browne. Van Buren wins by TKO.
Kelly Anundson vs. Corey Anderson: These two men apparently had a history with each other dating back to their college days. Anundson had some impressive wrestling credentials to his name, and he displayed them early with some impressive takedowns. It was an even match with Anundson taking mount, but Anderson found his range in the second and scored some takedowns of his own. Anderson wins by decision.
Adam Stroup, a skinny white kid who had to fight to earn his respect according to Dana White, faced Dhiego Lima, the brother of Bellator welterweight title contender Douglas Lima.
Adam Stroup vs. Dhiego Lima: Lima looked like a smaller welterweight, but he showcased some impressive stand up that he used to pick apart his opponent. Lima wins by decision.
Frenchman Nordine Taleb moved to Montreal to join Tristar Gym alongside Georges St-Pierre in order to further his MMA career, while his opponent Mike King made the transition from college football to mixed martial arts. He was quickly thrown into a fight and found early success in his career.
Nordine Taleb vs. Mike King: It was an evenly matched fight between the two with each fighter having their bright moments. Both men looked like fighters who were deserving of being in the house, but it was King who came away with the win in a hard fought contest that went to a sudden death round — or as Dana White calls it, the “who f—–g wants it” round — and earned the final spot in the TUF 19 house. In the final round, King had a nasty knee bar that was deep and hyper-extended Taleb’s knee. . King wins by decision.
That was all for the fights to get into the house, and it was easy to see that season 19 of “The Ultimate Fighter” has one of the deepest talent pools.
Edgar and Penn went back to the locker room to determine who they would want on their team when the team picks go down. Team Edgar won the coin toss and had the choose between the first fighter or the first fight match up. Edgar took the first fighter and went with Corey Anderson. You can how each team stacks up below:
- Corey Anderson — light heavyweight
- Patrick Walsh – light heavyweight
- Matt Van Buren – light heavyweight
- Todd Monaghan – light heavyweight
- Ian Stephens – middleweight
- Dhiego Lima – middleweight
- Eddie Gordon – middleweight
- Hector Urbina – middleweight
- Anton Berzin – light heavyweight
- Josh Clark – light heavyweight
- Daniel Spohn – light heavyweight
- Chris Fields – light heavyweight
- Mike King — middleweight
- Tim Williams – middleweight
- Cathal Pendred – middleweight
- Roger Zamata – middleweight
Penn matched up Cathal Pendred and Hector Urbina to square off in the first fight of the season.
TUF 19 returns next Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.