The premier of the Ultimate Fighter Season 11 had a completely different feel from the last few seasons. This season marks the return of the preliminary fights. I believe these fights gives creditability to the cast.
This season’s coaches, Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell, are TUF veteran. Their rivalry will add a lot of interest in the latest installment of the series.
Tito Ortiz’s coaching ability is excellent. He showcased his cage side skills on TUF Season Three. Both winners, Kendall Grove and Michael Bisping, were Team Ortiz fighters.
Chuck Liddell was a coach on the first TUF against Randy Couture. Like Ortiz, Team Liddell’s Diego Sanchez and Forrest Griffin walked away with contracts.
The show kicked off with some impressive preliminary fights.
Chris Camozzi and Victor O’Donnell had a war that left O’Donnell with a broken orbital socket. Later we would learn that Camozzi suffered a fractured jaw that resulted with him leaving the house. Clayton McKinney knocked out Charley Lynch after a brutal battle and leaves Lynch with the worst broken nose I’ve ever seen.
A perfect example of why these preliminaries are needed is the Paraisy and Hammortree fight. Norman Paraisy actually quit in between rounds without any known injury. Paraisy has obviously failed in disproving the stereotype that the French are soft.
Team Liddell’s top pick, Kyle Noke, won his preliminary match via decision. But in the second episode, Noke redeemed himself with a triangle choke over Clayton McKinney proving he can finish.
The third episode showcased Brad Tavares against James Hammortree. It was a good back and forth bout with Tavares getting the judges decision.
I am in befuddlement that Tavares got his hand raised. In the third round, Hammortree had a take down with mount and forced the action. I agree with Ortiz in disagreement with the outcome.
The Fighter Cast
Nick Ring 10-0
Tito Ortiz sees some potential in Nick Ring choosing him as the first-overall pick. He made it apparent that he is an advocate for “Fighters against name calling” after the incident with Jamie Yager. The BJJ brown belt and former Canadian national Muay Thai champion is a favorite to win the show.
Kyle Noke 16-4-1
The Australian has taken the first step to the finals after easily defeating McKinney. Kyle Noke has a nice record of 16-4-1. The former body guard for “The Crocodile Hunter” is likely to make to the finals.
Jamie Yager 2-1
Jamie Yager is this season’s Junie Browning. His misconduct has earned him quite a bit of television time. Yager is the least experienced fighter in the house. His 2-1 record isn’t anything to get excited about. It should be noted that Yager’s only loss is a result of a disqualification.
Brad Tavares 5-1
Brad Tavares already has a win under his belt with his controversial decision victory. Tavares looked good with his takedown defense and has no issues with conditioning.
Rich Attonito 7-3
Team Liddell’s Rich Attonito was Chuck’s second pick. Attonito wasn’t very entertaining when he took a decision victory over Steffans. The Hofstra University wrestler might put us all to sleep with his hold down strategy.
Kyacey Uscola 18-15
The All-American college wrestler won twelve of his 18 victories via KO or TKO. He is a training partner of WEC stand out Urijah Faber. I believe Uscola is a dark horse to win it all.
Seth Baczynski 11-5
Seth Baczynski lost his preliminary fight to McGee by decision. His heart, however, impressed Ortiz enough to replace Camozzi. The former IFL veteran has won eight of his fights by submission with the last being by guillotine. He trains with TUF alumni Efrain Escudero.
Charles Blanchard 7-2
The American Top Team prospect has been on a four-fight winning streak. He is a BJJ brown belt and looks to have decent striking.
Court McGee 9-1
McGee didn’t have a fight in 2009 so there may be rust even after a preliminary fight victory. McGee has a win over TUF alumni DaMarques Johnson. The Utah-based fighter will grab some attention this season with his near death experience when he suffered from a heroin overdose.
Joe Henle 3-0
Joe Henle appeared to be beaten until he pulled off a last-minute armbar in the prelims. The tae kwon do black belt is a former college football player. “Leonidas” will have a lot to prove this season.
Josh Bryant 10-0
Bryant has a perfect record and won his prelim via decision. He started out with six consecutive knockout or technical knock out victories but has since been unable to finish any of his fights.
Kris McCray 5-0
McCray has finished all of his opponents in the first three minutes of the first round.
James Hammortree and Clayton McKinney
James Hammortree and Clayton McKinney have been eliminated as of episode three.
James Hammortree may have already earned that wild card spot with his performance against Tavares.