The Ultimate Fighter returned on Wednesday night with the premiere episode of season 27. What’s unique about this series is that the fighters are all undefeated, something which is more of a novelty amongst MMA fighters when compared to the sport of Boxing. Undefeated fighters aren’t so common given the complexities of MMA. Plus, especially in promotions such as the UFC, fighters can’t exactly pick and choose who they fight either.
What’s also intriguing about this series are the coaches Stipe Miocic, the UFC’s Heavyweight champion, and Daniel Cormier, the UFC’s Light-Heavyweight champion. Both fighters will fight for the Heavyweight strap on 7th July at UFC 226 in the first super fight of the year.
On this series the 16 fighters are split into two divisions, Featherweight and Lightweight. As such, there will be two winners who will each receive a six-figure UFC contract.
The episode starts off with the fighters entering the TUF Gym shortly followed by Stipe and Daniel and their respective coaching staff. The two coaches then split off the fighters based on their weight category and get them training so they can be assessed for team selection.
Once each of the two coaches have had their turns analysing the fighters training stops and Miocic and Cormier come back to the main gym area. They are then joined by UFC President Dana White who then explains how this season is different from any past season as it includes all undefeated fighters.
The traditional season-opening coin toss takes place to decide who gets either the first fight pick or the first fighter pick. Daniel Cormier wins the toss and decides to go with choosing the first fighter.
The team selection resulted in the following:
- Tyler Diamond (FW)
- Bryce Mitchell (FW)
- Brad Katona (FW)
- Ricky Steele (FW)
- Richie Smullen (LW)
- Luis Pena (LW)
- Joe Giannetti (LW)
- Thailand Clark (LW)
- Kyler Phillips (FW)
- Suman Mokhtarian (FW)
- Jay Cucciniello (FW)
- Dulani Perry (FW)
- Mike Trizano (LW)
- John Gunther (LW)
- Jose Martinez Jr. (LW)
- Allan Zuniga (LW)
As Cormier picked the first fighter, Miocic got to pick the first fight. Stipe went for fourth pick John Gunther to take on fifth pick Joe Giannetti of team Cormier. After this the fighters are then taken to the TUF house in Las Vegas. As soon as the van pulls in all fighters burst out in a frenzy to claim their beds.
The episode then naturally starts to focus on the fighters involved in the season’s first bout. First up it’s Team Miocic’s John Gunther in the spotlight. Ironically, Gunther trains at the same gym as Miocic but they hardly ever train together due to the difference in size. John’s a very odd character, quite jittery in his mannerisms. He travels America shaving Alpaca’s as his own business and he lives in his own van. He has a very supportive family but it’s backgrounds like this that really make you wanna pull for a fighter.
The spotlight then shifts to Team Cormier’s Joe Giannetti. Who, like Gunther, has quite a compelling backstory. His mother left him at the age of twelve years old. From there he was raised by his father and has been homeless numerous times in the past, having had to sleep in homes with no heat and sleeping in cars as well.
Both fighters weigh in and make weight. The next day, the fight takes place at the TUF Gym. What’s surreal is that prior to the fight Giannetti felt like once he tagged Gunter with a few shots, Gunther would then revert to a safety mechanism and go for a takedown. As he shoots, Giannetti predicted he’d slip in a choke and finish John. Going into the fight Joe definitely seems like the more calculated fighter, with John describing his own fighting technique as wild and spontaneous.
In true mystic mac fashion, the fight goes down just how Joe had predicted. Joe Giannetti submitted John Gunther via a guillotine choke in round one. What’s startling is that both fighters looked worlds apart from each other, with Joe making John look like a rookie.
Joe advances to the Lightweight semi-finals. Team Miocic retains control of fight selection and chooses first pick Kyler Phillips to take on Cormier’s sixth pick Brad Katona in the first Featherweight bout of the series.
Don’t forget to catch new episodes of the Ultimate Fighter series 27 every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on Fox Sports 1 in America and every Thursday at 3am on BT Sport 2 in the UK.