Last night The Ultimate Fighter: Live episode 2 showed the two teams being picked and then highlights of the fighters first week in the TUF house, and it wasn’t long before the first dramatic moment of the season unfolded.
Mike Chiesa was called out early from his first practice session to take an urgent phone call in which he was informed of the tragic news that his father had just passed away.
Just prior to the show UFC president Dana White had promised that this was going to be one of the most emotional episodes in Ultimate Fighter history, and he wasn’t wrong as it was tough to watch the heartbroken Chiesa struggle to come to terms with the news and have to revaluate whether he should continue on the show or not.
Luckily Dana White was sympathetic to Chiesa’s plight and granted him permission to leave the house for a day to attend his father’s funeral, and that gave the fighter the time and the closure he needed to come back refocused and ready to fight.
After that it was time to get ready for the live fight that would close out the second episode. Earlier we had watched team coach Urijah Faber make the first fight pick, pitting his man Daron Cruickshank against Team Cruz fighter James Vick.
In all honesty this looked like an easy win for Cruickshank – a talented and versatile striker who seemed to hold all the aces compared to the lanky Vick who seemed less athletic, less skilled and less confident heading into this eliminator.
Anything can happen in MMA though, and that’s exactly what any new FX viewers tuning in would have quickly learned as Cruickshank started the first round brightly, but then made a crucial error, following up a spinning kick with a swift takedown attempt, but stooping straight into a knee from Vick in the process, producing an instant KO.
Vick looked as suprised as anyone at the result, but was understandably delighted nonetheless and books him a spot in the next round of the competition.
The final drama of the evening came when the two coaches were asked to pick the next fight. Since Vick had won Dominick Cruz was now in control of who would compete and he chose his No.1 pick Justin Lawrence and then did something completely unprecedented in TUF history by allowing Faber to choose which of his own fighters he wanted to face him.
The normally cool, calm and collected Faber was clearly caught off guard by this and struggled to make a choice as the camera’s rolled live, eventually asking his fighters to raise their hand if they wanted to fight.
More awkward silence followed as not a single fighter volunteered, and in the end Cruz piped up and offered to make the selection after all, selecting BJJ specialist Cristiano Marcello, Faber’s No.2 pick.
As far as mind games go Cruz definitely got one up on Faber on this occasion, leaving him lost for words on national TV just moments after one of his best fighters had suffered an upset defeat.
Check out the full team selections for both Team Faber and Team Cruz below.
1. Justin Lawrence
2. Sam Sicilia
3. Myles Jury
4. Mike Rio
5. James Vick
6. Vinc Pichel
7. Chris Tickle
8. Jeremy Larsen
1. Al Iaquinta
2. Cristiano Marcello
3. Daron Cruickshank
4. Joe Proctor
5. Mike Chiesa
6. John Cofer
7. Andy Ogle
8. Chris Saunders