The Ultimate Fighter Live coaches and bitter rivals Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber picked their teams this past week from the field of 16 finalists who won their elimination bouts to enter The Ultimate Fighter® Live House. Missouri native Justin Lawrence was the first overall selection by Team Cruz, while his teammate James Vick (5-0), of Fort Worth, Texas and Team Faber’s Daron Cruickshank (10-2), of Wayne, Mich., were slated to face off in the first fight of the night.
Episode 2 – “Embrace the War” – saw 16 victorious lightweights move into the House and begin their quest for a six-figure UFC contract. After coaches Faber and Cruz selected their teams, training began. Fighter Michael Chiesa then received sad news from home, and was faced with a very hard decision.
This episode was the most emotionally impactful episode, not just in TUF history, but perhaps the history of reality television, as Team Faber member Chiesa received a telephone call from his mother informing him of his father’s passing. Mark Chiesa had been unwell for some time but had insisted his sonpursue his dream of becoming the next Ultimate Fighter. The younger Chiesa has decided to honor his father’s wishes and will remain on the show.
“I told you it was the most emotional episode ever!” said Dana White, UFC President. “It doesn’t get more real than this. These guys aren’t actors, they’re guys who are working their asses off to become UFC fighters. They know what’s on the line and they want it bad.”
In this season’s format, the first half of the show will feature reality footage taped in the previous few days followed by a LIVE fight between a member of Team Cruz and Team Faber.
By winning the coin toss, Faber got the option of choosing the firstfight or making the first fighter selection. He chose the former, leaving Cruz with the initial fighter pick.
Cruz’s choices (in order): Justin Lawrence (4-0), Villa Ridge, Mo.; Sam Sicilia (11-0), Spokane Valley, Wash.; MylesJury (10-0), San Diego, Calif.; Mike Rio (9-1), Miami, Fla., Vick; Vinc Pichel (8-0), Sherman Oaks, Calif.; Chris Tickle (8-4), Bloomington, Ill.; and Jeremy Larsen (9-2), Phoenix, Ariz.
Faber’s choices (in order): Al Iaquinta (6-1-1), Wantagh, N.Y.; Cristiano Marcello (13-3), Curitiba, Brazil; Cruickshank; Joe Proctor (8-1), Pembroke, Mass.; Michael Chiesa (8-0), Spokane Valley, Wash., John Cofer (8-1), Hull, Ga.; Andy Ogle (9-1), Tynemouth, England; and Chris Saunders (10-2), Long Beach, Calif.
Friday night’s episode saw Vick knockout Cruickshank with an impressive knee to the head at 2:16 of the 1st round at the famed TUF Training Center in Las Vegas.
“I’m just so happy and feel so satisfied,” said Vick. “Team Cruz had a great game plan for me. It was the exact combination that we worked on all week and I landed it. To all my friends and family I love you all so much and thanks for all your support since the beginning of my fighting career.”
With the win, Team Cruz selected the next fight, which will pit Justin Lawrence against Cristiano Marcello on Episode 3, Friday, March 23.
“It’s my time,” said Lawrence. “Time for me to step up to the plate and come up with another victory for Team Cruz and keep the ball rolling. I’m going to go out there and execute my game plan.”
Marcello will be ready. “I think its going to be a great fight. He’s a tough kid and he’s going to have the chance to prove himself. So, let’s do it!”featured, MMA NEWS, Strikeforce, strikeforce news, ufc news