Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber are rival coaches on TUF 15 © Getty Images
The Ultimate Fighter went live from the word ‘go’ for the first time on Friday as 16 individuals battled it out for their place in the TUF house for the 15th and most anticipated series of show. Battling for the right to be trained by one of the two rival coaches, Dominick Cruz or Urijah Faber, the fighters had just one five-minute round to earn their place on the show. Any stoppages would earn them an instant $5,000 bonus. Below is how the 16 fights panned out, with key facts you need to know about the winner, plus what Cruz, Faber or Dana White thought on their victory.
Fight 1: Joe Proctor beats Jordan Rinaldi via guillotine choke at 2.08 of the round
After some cautious striking from both men Proctor (8-1) stepped things up a gear to apply an adjusted guillotine choke, forcing a desperate tap from Rinaldi. The win prompts Faber to express: “That Rinaldi guy is tough too man.”
Winner’s fact: Proctor is the No. 1 training partner of UFC lightweight Joe Lauzon, and the man he beat holds a submission win over last year’s TUF runner-up Dennis Bermudez.
Fight 2: Cristiano Marcello beats Jared Carlsten via rear naked choke at 2.43 of the round
Marcello (13-3) threw some good early leg kicks, body kicks and a knee out of the Thai plumb, before forcing his man to the mat, where the Jiu-Jitsu whizz instantly moved to mount. There he kept applying pressure with punches, eventually taking Carlsten’s back to lock on the rear naked choke. Cruz commented: “That is tight!”
Winner’s fact: Marcello is a fourth-degree Jiu-Jitsu black belt from Royler and Rickson Gracie and has trained Wanderlei Silva and Mauricio Shogun Rua.
Fight 3: Sam Sicilia beats Erin Beach via knockout at 0.08 of the round
Sicilia (11-0) instantly landed a huge right to drop Beach with his first punch, leaving Faber to repeatedly shout: “Holy s***”.
Winner’s fact: Sicilia had finished nine of his ten opponents prior to his fight with Beach.
Fight 4: Chris Tickle beats Austin Lyons via knockout at 0.24 of the round
Both men came to strike but Tickle (7-4) landed all the better stuff, initially setting up his punches with kicks. A powerfully built man, he then went all upstairs to land a left-right combo that dropped Lyons.
Winner’s fact: Tickle boasted a five-fight win streak going into the fight, and beat a man in Lyons who used to weigh 260lbs.
Fight 5: Andy Ogle beats Brendan Weafer via unanimous decision
Ogle (9-1) started superbly, landing an early takedown but then Weafer utilised a crippling body triangle that really limited Ogle’s movement and ability to breathe for the majority of the round, restricting him to five-second bursts despite being on top of his man. When the ref finally stood them up, Ogle went for a tight-looking guillotine, it went to the judges and Ogle got the nod.
Winner’s fact: Ogle is a UK fighter from Newcastle riding a seven-fight win streak going into the show at the age of just 22.
Fight 6: Vinc Pichel beats Cody Pfister via rear naked choke at 3.39 of the round
In one of the best fights of the night, Pfister came in recklessly looking for the takedown and got it at the second attempt. Pichel (8-0) showed some nice Jiu-Jitsu off his back and landed a big knee when he was back on the feet, but Pfister stuck to him. Again Pichel stayed patient and waited until he could end up in Pfister’s guard, where he cut him wide open with a huge elbow. “That landed dirty!” shouted Cruz. A few more punches allowed Pichel to move to his rival’s back and lock on the rear naked choke.
Winner’s fact: Pichel had finished all seven of his fights by KO or TKO prior to the show.
Fight 7: John Cofer beats Mark Glover via unanimous decision
Only one man truly came to fight as Cofer (8-1) smothered England’s Glover. The Brit produced some nice stuff at range, including a flying knee that landed, but too often he was put on his back by a man who came to points score.
Winner’s fact: Cofer rode a four-fight win streak into the competition, defeating Liverpool’s Glover.
Fight 8: Chris Saunders beats Chase Hackett via unanimous decision
Saunders (10-2) launched into a tight guillotine choke against a man who claimed his fighting style was “handsomeness”, but he didn’t get it. “His arm is blown,” stated Faber. Both then landed some good shots striking, but Hackett failed to apply any heat to his clearly exhausted rival. Saunders kept coming, landing the better shots, attempting another late guillotine – prompting Dana White to proclaim: “Hackett did nothing the entire fight.”
Winner’s fact: Saunders had a seven-fight win streak snapped by Chris Horodecki going into TUF.
Fight 9: James Vick beats Dakota Cochrane via split decision
Cochrane came out desperately searching for a takedown but couldn’t get one. Vick (5-0), a boxer, showed some good takedown defence against the cage before locking on a front headlock. Cochrane barely landed anything in five minutes, prompting White to declare: “You’ve got to throw a punch at some stage.”
Winner’s fact: Vick is 6ft 3 and is huge for the weight class.
Fight 10: Michael Chiesa beats Johnavan Vistante via rear naked choke at 2.05 of the round
Chiesa (8-0) instantly produced an explosive shot for the takedown, later taking his rival’s back. From there he pounded away, locking on the rear naked choke for one of the most impressive victories of the night.
Winner’s fact: Chiesa is an accomplished wrestler and claims he has a style nobody has seen before
Fight 11: Mike Rio beats Ali MacLean via rear naked choke at 3.32 of the round
Faber described it as a bout between Tito Ortiz (MacLean) and Clay Guida (Rio) based on their looks, and both men came out landing hard. Belfast’s MacLean looked the better when boxing, but as soon as Rio took him down the fight was his. Taking his back, Rio (9-1) delivered a suplex and bloodied his rival up, moving to mount before going back to the back for a rear naked choke. “That guy is a good wrestler and can take a punch,” observed Faber.
Winner’s fact: Rio is a three-time college national wrestling champion, and his only loss came to Efrain Escudero
Fight 12: Justin Lawrence beats James Krause via TKO at 1.25 of the round
Lawrence (4-0) came out with some unorthodox karate kicks and he proved to be extremely elusive. As Krause looked for the takedown Lawrence stuffed it and poured it on, throwing a wheel kick followed by a series of punches in the most impressive performance of the night. “Wow!” shouted Faber.
Winner’s fact: Lawrence trains with Anderson Silva at Team Black House
Fight 13: Daron Cruickshank beats Drew Dober via unanimous decision
Cruickshank (11-2) emerged in trademark Taekwondo stance but Dober went hunting a takedown. Cruickshank than landed two lethal head kicks followed by a series of punches before landing a double-leg. “Oh man!” shouted Cruz and White. Back on their feet Cruickshank landed more heavy kicks, stuffing a huge takedown attempt, before putting a rubber stamp on his fine performance with another takedown of his own.
Winner’s fact: Both of Cruickshank’s parents are black belts in Karate or Taekwondo
Fight 14: Jeremy Larsen beats Jeff Smith via unanimous decision
In the most controversial fight of the night, Larsen (9-2) suffered a cut to his head inside the first 30 seconds, and then had to escape a guillotine attempt. He then surprisingly went for a double-leg, prompting White to ask: “When you’ve just said you love to knock people out, why would you double-leg the Jiu-Jitsu guy?” In a real scramble of a fight, Smith locked on a kneebar that forced a tap not seen by the ref, and Larsen moved into side control, where he stayed on top long enough for the win.
Winner’s fact: Larsen’s only losses have come against Efrain Escudero and Edgar Garcia
Fight 15: Al Iaquinta beats Jon Tuck via unanimous decision
Tuck came out looking calm and happily went to ground, looking for an arm triangle before transitioning beautifully to Iaquinta’s (6-1-1) back. Both men then stood off each other, forcing Faber to state: “Come on guys, this is your time”. Tuck suffered a nasty broken toe midway through the round, the toe pointing in the completely wrong direction, and Iaquinta took advantage for the win.
Winner’s fact: Iaquinta was selected for season 12 of TUF but broke his hand days before taping
Fight 16: Myles Jury beats Akbarh Arrreola via unanimous decision
Jury – known well by Faber – shot early for the takedown and pounded away until the ref stood them up. From there Jury went straight for another takedown, delivering more G&P in a dominant display of wrestling. “Akbarh needs somes wrestling,” was White’s final quote.
Winner’s fact: Jury was part of Team Lesnar on TUF 13 but a torn ACL forced him off the show