The 25th season of The Ultimate Fighter premiered on Fox Sports 1 on Wednesday. This season features 14 welterweights who previously competed on the reality series with a chance to return to the UFC and win a $250,000 payout. Each of the fighters will receive $10,000 for their fights, win or lose, and earn an extra $5,000 for finishing their opponents.
“For the 25th season, former competitors are getting a shot at redemption on The Ultimate Fighter,” explained UFC president Dana White. “We brought back a bunch of crafty veterans. The stakes have never been higher.
“There’s also going to be a wildcard fight,” he added. “Which means, in the preliminaries, two guys who lose will be brought back. The winner of that fight will move on to the next round.”
Bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt and former titleholder TJ Dillashaw are the coaches. The two former teammates and training partners are bitter enemies. Their rivalry came to a head in the first episode when the two got into a scuffle prior to the weigh-in for the first fight of the season.
The coaches evaluated the fighters and then the team selections began. Dillashaw won the customary coin toss and decided to pick the first fighter instead of the first fight. He chose James Krause from season 15. Garbrandt’s first pick was Seth Baczynski from season 11. Jesse Taylor from season 7 was Dillashaw’s second pick, while Garbrandt went with season 22’s Mehdi Bagdad. Ramsey Nijem of season 13 was selected in the third round by Dillashaw, while Garbrandt decided on season 19’s Eddie Gordon. Dhiego Lima from season 19 went to Team Dillashaw in the fourth round, while Hector Urbina from the same season went to Team Garbrandt. Season 2’s Joe Stevenson was Dillashaw’s fifth pick, while Hayder Hassan from season 21 was Garbrandt’s. Season 22’s Tom Gallicchio was picked sixth by Dillashaw. Garbrandt chose Julian Lane from season 16. Gilbert Smith from season 17 was Dillashaw’s seventh selection. Season 13’s Justin Edwards was the last man standing and went to Team Garbrandt.
First Matchups Announced
Because Dillashaw decided to select the first fighter, Garbrandt got to choose the first fight. Garbrandt chose Team Dillashaw’s last pick, Gilbert Smith, to face Seth Baczynski in the first fight of the season.
Dillashaw chose the second matchup and put James Krause, his first team pick, up against Team Garbrandt’s Hector Urbina.
Urbrina showed up to the filming heavy, weighing 196.5 pounds. Dillashaw selected him to fight in the first episode anticipating a difficult weight cut. He was right. Urbina withdrew from the bout the day before the weigh-in after failing to lose enough weight. He was sent home and an alternate was brought in to replace him. Johnny Nunes from season 22 was brought in to replace Urbina against Krause and the fight was pushed back to a later episode. Krause was not happy with the move. “I cut weight for nothing,” he said
First Fight: Seth Baczynski vs. Gilbert Smith
Smith was not happy about being chosen last and selected to take on Garbrandt’s first pick. He told members of Team Garbrandt that they picked the wrong guy. His prediction turned out to be true. The 35-year-old used his wrestling ability to put Baczynski on his back. He controlled Baczynski and took out Garbrandt’s first pick by unanimous decision.
Next Fight Announcement
Coach Garbrandt picked the next fight. He chose Team Dillashaw’s Tom Gallicchio to take on Eddie Gordon.