The Ultimate Fighter 14 Episode 1 Recap: A Mighty Two Hours

TUF 14 - Mayhem vs. BispingWednesday marked the two-hour debut of season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter with 185ers Michael Bisping and Jason "Mayhem" Miller as coaches of eight 135-pounders and eight 145-pounders.

The opening fights were in an empty Mandalay Bay arena instead of the UFC Training Center, done to better illustrate to the fighters exactly the scope of where they were trying to get to.

Whether it was the lighter fighters or the venue, it worked as it was a compelling two hours of exciting fights that included eight T/KOs, five submissions and just three decisions.

Here's the breakdown by weight class, even though the fights were dispersed throughout the show.

Bantamweights (135)

Josh Ferguson def. Casey Dyer by 1st round TKO: Dyer is just 21 and looks younger. Ferguson went on the attack with a slew of left hands and landed a straight right that dropped Dyer. A flurry of punches later and the fight was over in just 15 seconds. Ferguson is going be a character this season. This fight led off the show.

John Dodson def. Brandon Merkt by 1st round TKO: Dodson said he likes being the center of attention while Merkt is a bit generic. Both guys exchanged kicks early, but Dodson went on the attack and was more crisp and effective with his combos. He hurt Merkt bad with a body shot and followed up with a knee strike to the body and left hands to a grounded Merkt for the win at 3:23. Dodson looks to be the smiley cocky guy that people hate this season.

Roland Delorme def. BJ Ferguson by 1st round submission:
Damn this Delorme, depriving us of two brothers that wanted to fight each other this season! Delorme got a standing guillotine early and established his BJJ game throughout. BJ got a takedown, but Delorme was aggressive with strikes. He worked for an armbar and transitioned to a triangle for the tap at 3:04. Damn him!

Johnny Bedford def. Carson Beebe by 1st round submission: Beebe is the younger brother of MMA vet Chase while Bedford has a name befitting a club fighter, a card player or a friend of Doc Holliday. This was a fun fight that both guys looked great in.

Bedford evaded a guillotine attempt early and was more effective in his striking, slipping through a hard right uppercut and a knee strike, followed by a standing elbow and another knee. The finishing flurry came with a hard Bedford right elbow to Beebe's face, a shin/knee to a forward-leaning face and an eventual side choke for the tap with 41 seconds to go.

John Albert def. Orville Smith by 1st round submission:
This fight earned just highlight status on the night. Albert tapped him in the 1st round and for what they showed, it was good back and forth. Details rich!

Dustin Pague def. Tateki Matsuda by u/d: Given some of the other fights they barely showed, I'm surprised they showed this one as it was just ok for action. It was a close fight that I had even going to a third round. (Remember on TUF, the 3rd round isn't guaranteed.)

Pague hit a nice spinning back fist in the first and Matsuda got a takedown and did some decent work in the second. This wasn't an outrage by any means and with a rewatch, I could easily see giving it to Pague.

Louis Gaudinot def. Paul McVeigh by u/d: This was relegated to highlights, but by all accounts, this should have been shown instead of Pague/Matsuda. Gaudinot has the green Hermes Franca hair but looks identical to Diego Sanchez. McVeigh had him in trouble in the first round, but Gaudinot came alive in the second and third rounds, hitting a sick back elbow in the final frame.

It looked like a great competitive fight with some blood and a dude with green hair. Why didn't the full fight air then? I'm confused.

TJ Dillashaw def. Matt Jaggers by 1st round TKO: Dillashaw is an Alpha Male team member and looks the part: jacked, short and a wrestler. Is that on the application to get into that place? Jaggers was a tough out for Dillashaw, but couldn't get anything going standing. Dillashaw tired late, but got a takedown and laid in the ground-and-pound. The end came when he was dropping power shots to Jaggers on his back with some bad intention elbows, knocking him out just as the first round ended.

TUF 14 - Mayhem vs. Bisping

Featherweights (145)

Diego Brandao def. Jesse Newell by 1st round TKO: Newell was aggressive early, but Brandao got a takedown early and got Newell's back. The fight got back standing and Brandao started swinging, connecting on a left hand and then a Dan Henderson-esque H-bomb forearm on a grounded Newell. The fight was stopped at 4:13 of the round.

Dennis Bermudez def. Jimmie Rivera by 2nd round TKO: This began with Bermudez telling a story of how his ex-girlfriend told him he had a kid and kept up an illusion for two years before revealing it wasn't his, derailing his college wrestling.

Both guys were big 45ers and this was an awesome fight. The first round was all Rivera as he was drilling Bermudez with everything standing and on the ground. Bermudez hung on with Rivera on his back to end the round and it didn't look good.

But he caught Rivera with a left hand early in the second round and got a seemingly tired Rivera's back. He flattened him out and unloaded with lefts and rights for the TKO win at 3:20. Steve Mazzagatti could have stopped the fight a little earlier, but how often have we heard that?

Marcus Brimage def. Bryson Wailehua-Hansen by 2nd round TKO: This was a story about Wailehua-Hansen's toughness as he withstood an assault from the WAND Fight Team member Brimage, aka Little Lashley.

In the first, Brimage fought through some ground dominance from BWH and got it standing. From there, he unleashed hell on BWH with lefts, rights, elbows, a 2x4, two steel chairs, a mace, a Muppet and more lefts and rights. BWH didn't go down and somehow made it to the 2nd round.

He didn't last long as we got more of same from Brimage, connecting on everything he threw. Mazzagatti stopped the fight at 4:39 of the 2nd round. Brimage looked great while BWH looked tough.

Akira Corassani def. Brian Pearman by 1st round KO:
This fight closed the show and featured another incredible display of taking punishment. Pearman got a nasty darse choke attempt in early, but Corassani fought through it and began to open up his offense.

Akira (great name) hit a spinning back fist to open up the striking. He then started to hit harder and harder but Pearman refused to go down. Eventually, Pearman fell and the fight was over via KO. Tough kid. Good battle.

Stephen Bass def. Karsten Lenjoint by 2nd round submission: Bass got a tap in the 2nd round as Lenjoint apparently was tired. They only showed highlights of this one.

Steven Siler def. Micah Miller by 3rd round submission:
Cole's younger brother came into this fight with more experience and was such a favorite, Dana White crossed Siler off his sheet before the fight started. This was another highlights fights, but Silver got some shots in early and took Miller down.

Siler got a takedown in the second round, but Miller's BJJ almost got him submitted. White said it was stupid for him to go into Miller's strength, but he looked a bit foolish in the 3rd as Silver got a top guillotine and tapped the jiujitsu ace Miller.

Bryan Caraway def. Eric Marriot by u/d: We got just highlights and there was a reason for it. White said Caraway played it safe in his style to get in the house. White, Bisping and Miller didn't seem impressed. Last kid picked next week?

Dustin Neace def. Josh Clopton by u/d: This was another highlights fight. It was a ground battle in which Neace got the win, but White and Bisping thought Clopton won. We got our first 'You can't let it go to the judges' line from White of the season. Over/under on hearing this season? I'll go with five.

Other Notes

- They showed clips for the rest of the season and it looks fun. Mariachi bands, fire extinguishers, donkeys and conflict all make appearances.

- How incredible would it have been to see twin brothers BJ and Josh Ferguson go at it this season? Damn it again!

- The fans get to pick the best KO, sub and fight of the season with each winner getting $25k at the finale.

- I didn't see a clear favorite, but there's a lot of talent this season on TUF. I think this season is going to be a big improvement over the TUF 13: Lesnar/dos Santos snoozefest.

Next Week!

The coaches pick their guys and other stuff will happen...guaranteed!

Josh Nason is the TUF recapper for Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Online, along with being the compiler of the seemingly weekly MMA staff picks. He is a scribe for FIGHT! Magazine, a regular visitor on Figure Four Daily and hosts the weekly WGAM MMA Show on New Hampshire's primary ESPN Radio affiliate.

Who is the strongest of these Hall of Fame candidates?


What do you believe is the second most popular promotion right now in the U.S?