The first episode was pretty awesome, as it was literally all about the fights. I'll start by reviewing the fights that were shown on air in their entirety, and then continue with the highlights tomorrow.MARC STEVENS VS. T.J. O'BRIEN
O'Brien smashes Stevens with a quick right hook to the temple and drops him bad. He pounces on him with some very quick and brutal ground and pound and the match is over in only 13 seconds; possibly the fastest win in Ultimate Fighter history. Damn, that was cool!
SPENCER PAIGE VS. STEVE MAGDALENO
Paige comes out of the second round like a beast, becoming all aggressive on Magdaleno. Magdaleno, however, manages to slam him onto the ground and control him there for a while. Unfortunately for him, when Paige wall walks back to his feet, Magdaleno attempts to sweep him, but winds up on the bottom. Paige, with only a few seconds left in the round, capitalizes and administers some serious ground and pound before the bell. He then goes on to win via unanimous decision. He also actually reminds me of Joe "Daddy" Stevenson, in both looks and fighting style.
Dana White predicted that if it wasn't for Magdaleno's unfortunate mistake, the fight could have gone to a third round, giving Magdaleno a better chance at victory. Oh, well.
NAM PHAN VS. MIKE BUDNIK
I was actually pleasantly surprised when I saw Nam Phan at the beginning of the show. He's an Asian-American (Vietnamese) fighter whose family apparently has a strong culture rooted in the martial arts. Being an Asian myself, I couldn't help but root for him throughout his match. His opponent is Mike Budnik, who is apparently a very strong wrestler.
He managed to take Phan down several times during the first round, but Phan stayed active all the time with some vicious ground and pound from the bottom. He also manages to quickly scramble back to his feet almost every time. Phan, obviously the more superior striker, manages to land a body shot to Budnik a la Bas Rutten:
"TO THE LIVER!!!" Budnik folds like a lawn chair and gets battered down by Phan's ground and pound. The Asian-American moves into the house via TKO and I am very pleased.
PAUL BARROW VS. ALEX CACERES
Caceres is the obvious stand out in the competition, first appearing in Bruce Lee's famous yellow track suit from Game Of Death,and looking like some sort of sick love child between Bruce and Jim Kelly. That's not to say I disliked the Dude, though. I was genuinely amused to see him trying to differentiate himself from the other fighters by creating a unique image of sorts. And you know what? He can back it up. He looked very impressive against his opponent, Paul Barrow, both standing up and on the ground, eventually finishing the fight via rear naked choke. It was also rather odd how he was literally smiling the entire time he was fighting, from the time he first entered the Octagon, until way after he left. Definitely a kid to watch out for this season.
CODY MCKENZIE VS. AMIR KHILLAH
Both very unique fighters, McKenzie's a fisherman who lives in an area with no professional coaches or gyms, and Khillah's an Egyptian fighter wanting to represent his country, with hopes of become the "Michael Bisping of the Middle East". The fight goes quickly, however, as McKenzie quickly takes Khillah down on the ground and puts him to sleep with a Guillotine Choke. Interestingly enough, GSP was already familiar with McKenzie and predicted the Guillotine win at the very start of the match.
DANE SAYERS VS. ARIEL SEXTON
Sayers, a Native-American fighter, seems to desperately want to impress the audience at his own expense. He publicly announces that he refuses to touch gloves with his opponent, Costa Rican Ariel Sexton, then barrels into him with an extremely explosive flying knee. He goes too high and misses, though, and Sexton manages to flip him over. Sayers comes back with some striking combinations that he impressively mixes up, but it seems that he blew his tank incredibly fast, as he seemed to turn sluggish in the latter half of the round. He also almost got knocked out, as Sayers displayed some impressive boxing skills and landed some clean shots on his obviously tired opponent.
The second round starts and Sayers is still clearly gassed. He desperately wants to get Sexton down to the ground, but Sexton makes him pay for it with a couple of clean punches. Sexton is relentless, however, and his invincible heart makes up for his lack of cardio, as he continuously tries to sink in a rear naked choke. Third time's a charm, though, as he eventually manages to sink one in, and Sexton is forced to tap. Very impressive, indeed.
Check back tomorrow for my review of the rest of the fights shown in the episode!