The Ultimate Fighter took the Ultimate Fighting Championship from a struggling organization with a niche audience to a worldwide phenomenon that has become a staple of many fight fans weekends.
It’s been said by UFC President Dana White that Brazil is the hotbed for talent and money-making and tonight we took the first giant leap in transforming the UFC into bigger than it already is with the first international series of The Ultimate Fighter.
32 fighters between middleweight and featherweight will fight their way into the house tonight, 16 will advance into the house to be mentored by two Brazilian-born champions in Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort.
The same format as the original series on Spike TV is adapted here as each fighter is given two five-minute rounds to get their way into the house with a third round if the bout is declared a draw.
We begin the episode with all 32 UFC hopefuls entering the octagon to meet their coaches who explain the series format and how it works before introducing UFC President Dana White as the fighters have to put on headphones to translate his English to Portuguese.
White gives them one of his pertinent pep talks telling these fighters that this is their big opportunity and that he’s seeking the next UFC champion that gets a pretty emotional response from the fighters.
Featherweight bout: Rony “Jason” Mariano Bezerra (10-3) vs. Dileno Lopes (8-0)
We open with these two featherweight prospects as senior referee Mario Yamasaki takes control, both men trade kicks early on before Lopes floord Bezerra with a right hand and is on offence looking to finish but is unable to put him away.
We return to trading on the feet before Bezerra has the unbeaten Nova Uniao prospect on the ropes with a flying knee before flooring him with a right hand that stops the fight.
Middleweight bout: Francisco Drinaldo (10-1) vs. Charles Maicon (8-1)
Both men come out and trade heavy leather early on before Drinaldo ties him up in a clinch before firing off a deadly knee that put Maicon down before he followed up with a series of devastating hard punches at lightning speed before Yamasaki jumped in to stop the action.
Featherweight bout: Godofredo de Oliveira (8-0) vs. Johnny Goncalves (4-0)
de Oliveira wastes no time getting this bout to the floor and while Goncalves is looking to sweep to take top position he sinks in a triangle choke as Goncalves looks to fight it off looking for a slam at one point he transitions into an armbar rolling through and forcing the tap.
Middleweight bout: Cezer Ferreira (4-2) vs. Gustavo Sampaio (5-1)
Ferreira charges forward and eats a punch early on before the 35-year-old which forced Ferreira to look for the clinch to avoid punishment from the power-puncher. Ferreira has long limbs and used them to land with a big knee that makes Sampaio drop to the floor as the Vitor Belfort training partner continues on offence seeking a kimura before firing off with elbows that forced a cut and busted Sampaio wide open before we resume on the feet for a brief exchange.
Round two opens as the bloodied Sampaio lands a brutal leg kick and counter strikes as Ferreira charges forward as Ferreira shows off an iron chin that would’ve dropped most combatants before slamming Sampaio to the canvass and sinking in a guillotine to his bloodied and beaten opponent.
Featherweight bout: Hugo Vianna (5-0) vs. Alexandre Ramos (5-0)
Vianna charges forward with a string of strikes before pushing Ramos against the cage and seeking the slam but falling directly into a triangle choke but he was able to avoid it before taking top position and raining down leather on “The Wolverine” not landing all his strikes but effectively posturing up and landing several power-shots before one rendered Ramos unconscious before taking two unnecessary elbows due to poor officiating.
Middleweight bout: Daniel Sarafian (7-2) vs. Richardson Moreira (3-0)
Due to time constraints we only got a highlight package for this fight, Sarafian levels Moreira with a charging right-hand before Moreira instantly latched to a leg looking for a submission but couldn’t get it and winds up with Sarafian on top in mount raining down elbows before Moreira landed an illegal knee that ended in a point deduction.
Sarafian came out aggressively and gets into top position, all that was shown from the round was a series of elbows from top position and Sarafian moves on to the house.
Featherweight bout: Fabricio de Assis Costa da Silva (14-1) vs. Rodrigo Damm (9-5)
Once again we get only a brief look at this action here as da Silva lands early and often on the feet with some nice combos before Damm looks for the takedown as they exchange in a grappling match on the floor.
Much of the same in round two as Damm looks to get in to the mat as his jiu-jitsu is his obvious strength as Damm is able to take the back of da Silva and sink in a fight-ending rear-naked-choke.
Featherweight bout: Fernando Duarte Guerra (10-1) vs. Campos Wagner (11-3)
Once again, highlight treatment here and from what is shown I think they did us a favor, neither man was the aggressor as Campos looked to stick and move while landing his leg kick while Guerra just looked to move forward and land every now and much of the same happened in round two from what is seen.
Due to two close rounds with neither imposing their will we move on to a third round that shocks Dana White but we see little of this round outside of a few striking exchanges before its revealed that Campos will advance.
Middleweight bout: Sergio Moares (6-1) vs. Thiago Rela (3-1)
Rela is on the offensive early but Moares quickly takes this bout to the floor before Rela attempts a leg lock on the jiu-jitsu wiz before both exchange punches while tied up in an awkward looking situation before Moares finished with a heel-hook.
Featherweight bout: Rafael Bueno (7-1) vs. Anistavio Medeiros (12-7)
We once again return to highlight packages for this one; both men exchange early before Bueno pulls guard to take the fight to the floor that doesn’t impress the former Pride middleweight kingpin Wanderlei Silva.
In the second frame Medeiros slips which gives Bueno the opportunity to follow him to the ground and land several big shots on the mat but after two rounds we are sent to a third which was much of the same as he almost beat the purple Mohawk off of Bueno, looking for an armbar along the way to move into the house.
Middleweight bout: Joao Paulo de Souza (8-4) vs. Thiago de Oliveira Perpetuto (8-1-1)
De Souza takes control of the bout early pressing the action before getting top position and raining down leather before Perpetuo took the reins in the second frame taking top position and landing deadly elbows and punches that earned him the decision and impressed both coaches.
Featherweight bout: Giovanni Souza Jr (10-1) vs. John Teixeria (10-0-1)
Both men quickly tie each other up in the clinch before Souza lands a groin shot to Teixeria that referee Yamasaki misses at first before Teixeria fires back with a groin shot before apologizing. Once the action resets we quickly hit the floor with Teixeria taking top position in mount right away before flawlessly transitioning into an armbar.
Post-fight Wanderlei Silva discusses the groin shots and the pain he feels from it and goes on to say that he has a super-sized cup, take that for what you like ladies.
Middleweight bout: Gilberto Galvao (19-4-1) vs. Delson Heleno (23-6)
Back to highlight mode here, Heleno exchanges early with Galvao before taking the bout to the floor showing good wrestling sticking to Galvao like glue in the opening stanza before doing much of the same in round two, Galvao was pretty active off his back from what was shown but he couldn’t get up from the powerful wrestling.
Featherweight bout: Fabio Luiz Vital da Costa (9-0-1) vs. Renee Forte (7-1)
Once again highlight reel format here, Costa is landing with the better strikes from the package using a string of knees and leg kicks, one that floored Forte before Forte took over exchanging heavy leather in the second frame with both landing but Forte looked as if he got the upper hand to advance into the house.
Featherweight bout: Marcos Vinicius Borges Pancini (19-3-1) vs. Pedro Nobre (10-0-1)
Panichi lands with a powerful right-hand early that drops Nobre as he looks to ground-and-pound but Nobre is able to scramble back to the feet but it doesn’t last long before hes dropped with a fight-finishing right-hand for Panichi to impressively move on.
Middleweight bout: Samuel Trinidade (6-1) vs. Leonardo Mafra Teixeria (5-0)
Trinidade walks right into a right-hand from Teixeria that drops him to the canvas but Teixeria doesn’t follow him down there. We return to exchange on the feet before Teixeria attempts a flying knee that his opponent uses to take him to the floor but he isn’t able to keep him there for long before we reset on the feet, a brief exchange to close the round as Teixeria attempts another knee but fails to do the damage.
Teixeria is the aggressor again mixing up his strikes with leg kicks, knees and punches as Trinidade looks to counter strike while being continually pressured but is landing some good shots of his own before Teixeria attempts a takedown late in the round to no success before returning to a striking match to close the action but didn’t do enough to move on, instead we go to a third frame.
Both men are clearly exhausted as Trinidade seeks the takedown early but is unable to secure it eating a knee in the process before we got what resembled a drunken bar fight as both men groggily threw punches as Teixeria pushed against the cage but his punches had little force behind them as Trinidade secured a takedown to close out the round but Teixeria tried for a triangle choke in a great, competitive fight to close us out with Teixeria winning a decision.
We close the show with the 16 remaining fighters being spoken to by Dana White who says he’s blown away with what he saw today, encouraging them to chase their dreams and welcomes them to the series before the coaches give some motivational words.
Join us next week as we go through this rollercoaster ride as teams will be selected and the first official fight of the series.