Sixteen of the best unsigned fighters in the world took their first step towards glory Friday night as they won their first round tournament fights in the fast-paced premiere of The Ultimate Fighter Live on FX.
The 32 UFC hopefuls arrived at the famed TUF Gym in Las Vegas ready to fight their way into the final 16, but they were met with a stunning announcement: all first round elimination bouts would consist of a single five-minute round.
The result was some of the most intense, emotional and action-packed bouts in TUF history, including a startling eight-second KO.
In addition, fighters were offered a bonus of $5,000 if they succeeded in scoring a submission or knockout in their fight. A total of $40,000 was handed out.
With the win, the victors now move into The Ultimate Fighter® Live House for the next 12 weeks as they continue to compete for a lucrative six-figure contract with the UFC.
“One round! That’s all we needed tonight. These guys came out and killed it,” said UFC President Dana White. “We have some real tough guys this season and they want it bad. I guess the extra incentive didn’t hurt either.”
Bitter rivals and TUF Live coaches Dominick Cruz – the reigning UFC bantamweight champion – Uriah Faber – the No1 contender – both liked what they saw Friday night.
Cruz said: “We got to see some great action from these guys. They came out and showed us that they wanted it and they wanted it bad. There’s a lot of good fighters to choose from and I’m going to build the best team I can.”
Faber said: “My assistant coaches and I have our hands full tonight. There’s a lot of talent this season and I have to weigh what I want and what’s going to help me beat Team Cruz.”
Proctor: “I’m pumped. This is the best thing to ever happen to me, so I have no complaints.’’
Marcello: “I feel great. I’m so happy for me, my family, my wife, my kids and the people of Brazil who I know were up and watching. I’m very proud to be here and get the opportunity to be in the house.”
Sicilia: “I came in ready to fight. I trained hard. You saw my fight. I loaded up with the right hand. My life changed in eight seconds, so I am really excited to be here.’’
Tickle: “I’m happy. That was my game plan, to stay in the pocket with him and punch. He was coming forward and I just stayed in the pocket and caught him.’’
Ogle: “I was really excited to be in there. Just the canvas itself felt like no other canvas I had been on. This was a dream come true. It was surreal. I think knowing my Mom watched the fight back in England probably helped me.’’
Pichel: “I feel great. I got my first submission so I feel good about that. He came out strong and was well prepared. It was a little nerve-racking but I started to relax and I did what I had to do.’’
Cofer: “I probably could have been more active, and probably didn’t display my best ability but I guess I controlled it and I won so I am ecstatic. I’m happy with the win and happy to be here.’’
Saunders: “I’m happy with the win but disappointed I didn’t finish. I thought I had the guillotine but he persevered and pulled through it. Still, though, I’m very happy.’’
Vick: “I feel great about the win and I’m in the house. This is a dream come true. It’s the first step.’’
Chiesa: “It wasn’t the way I wanted to win, I like to go there and bang, but I really wanted to secure my spot in the house so I just went out and put the pressure on and got him down.”
Rio: “I wasn’t trying to out-strike him. I was just trying to keep him at a distance because I knew he wanted to wrestle. Overall, I stuck to my game plan and waited for my opportunity. I did everything I needed to do to win this fight and get into the house.’’
Lawrence: I just went in there and had the time of my life. That guy was the favorite and had a lot more fights than me, but stats and records go out the window when you only have five minutes to fight.’’
Cruickshank: “I’m pretty excited. I worked very hard to get here. I’m ready to move on.’’
Larsen: “The most important thing for me tonight was to win and to get in the house. I feel ok about my performance and I’m looking forward to getting this show started.”
Iaquinta: “I worked really hard to get here and I’m happy and relieved to get the victory.”
Jury: “I hadn’t fought in over a year and I feel I fought one of the toughest guys here tonight. But I’m happy with the win. This is only the beginning.’’
1. Joe Proctor (8-1), Pembroke, Mass., submitted Jordan Rinaldi (5-1), Matthews, N.C., by guillotine choke at 2:08
2. Cristiano Marcello (13-3), Curitiba,Brazil, submitted Jared Carlsten (3-1), Los Angeles, Calif., at 2:42
3. Sam Sicilia (11-0), Spokane Valley, Wash., knocked out Erin Beach (3-2), San Diego, Calif., at 0:08
4. Chris Tickle (8-4), Bloomington, Ill., knocked out Austin Lyons (9-2), Cordova, Tenn., at 0:44
5. Andy Ogle (9-1), Tynemouth, England,defeated Brendan Weafer (6-4), New York, N.Y., by unanimous decision
6. Vinc Pichel (8-0), Sherman Oaks, Calif., submitted Cody Pfister (7-4), Amarillo, Texas, at 3:39
7. John Cofer (8-1), Hull, Ga., defeated Mark Glover (5-2-1), Liverpool, England, by unanimous decision
8. Chris Saunders (10-2), Long Beach, Calif; defeated Chase Hackett (4-2), Littleton, Colo., by unanimous decision
9. James Vick (5-0), Fort Worth, Texas, defeated Dakota Cochrane (11-3), Omaha, Neb., by split decision
10. Michael Chiesa (8-0), Spokane Valley, Wash., sumitted Johnavan Vistante (4-2), Pearl City, Hawaii, at 2:05
11. Mike Rio (9-1), Miami, Fla., submitted Ali Maclean (9-6-1), Belfast, Northern Ireland, at 3:32
12. Justin Lawrence (4-0), Villa Ridge,Mo., Knockedout James Krause (14-5), Blue Springs, Mo., at 1:25
13. Daron Cruickshank (10-2), Wayne, Mich.; defeated Drew Dober (8-3), Omaha, Neb., by unanimous decision
14. Jeremy Larsen (9-2), Phoenix, Ariz., defeated Jeff Smith (9-2), Mechanicsburg, Penn., by unanimous decision
15. Al Iaquinta (6-1-1), Wantagh, N.Y., defeated Jon Tuck (6-1), Hagtna, Guam, by unanimous decision
16. Myles Jury (10-0), San Diego, Calif. defeated Akbarh Arreloa (19-7-1), Chula Vista, Calif., by unanimous decisionfeatured, MMA NEWS, Strikeforce, strikeforce news, ufc news