Welcome to the TUF 24 two-hour Episode One premiere. I’m expecting an entertaining, championship-calibre season.
It was pretty good visual seeing all of the participants walk in with their belts, and then Demetrious Johnson walking in with the UFC belt.
The flyweight participants go through some basic drills for evaluation by the coaches, who will pick teams.
Team Benavidez wins the coin toss and gets the first pick.
#3 Tim Elliott (first pick)
#16 Brendan Moreno
#4 Damacio Page
#15 Eric Shelton
#7 Ronaldo Candido
#11 Matt Rizzo
#5 Hiromasa Ogkikubo
#8 Terrence Mitchell
#14 Charlie Alaniz
#1 Alexandre Pantoja
#13 Adam Antolin
#2 Yoni Sherbatov
#10 Jaime Alvarez
#6 Matt Schnell
#12 Nkazimulo Zulu
#9 Kai Kara-France
The first fight will be #1 Alexandre Pantoja vs #16 Brendan Moreno.
In fact, the training sessions remind me of the movie Bloodsport.
We see a nice casual moment between the Brazilian Panjota, who speaks Portuguese, and the 22-year-old Mexican Moreno (WFA champion), who speaks Spanish.
Moreno says he saw some weaknesses in Pagoda’s striking but knows he has to keep his distance and stuff the takedown.
Panjota explains he’s fighting for his family. He says Moreno is a BJJ guy, but he knows BJJ too. Cejudo is torn because his training partner – Brendan Moreno – is the opponent.
Moreno weighs in at 125.5 pounds, while Pantoja comes in at 125.5 pounds too.
#1 ALEXANDRE PANJOTA VS #16 BRENDAN MORENO
Moreno takes the outside. They trade. Moreno keeping his distance. Leg kick Pantoja. Moreno moves forward. Flying knee Moreno missed. 3:00 left. Pantoja moves in with a flurry, Moreno slips, but is back up. They trade again. Moreno still on the outside. Pantoja with a bit of a Thai Plum, get some shots in. Pantoja moves in with a nice kick to the body of Moreno. Pantoja now using kicks, then changes levels with strikes., and the horn goes. Pantoja’s eye is bleeding, while Moreno’s left eye looks swollen.
I thought Moreno won the first round.
Moreno takes the outside again. They trade and exchange. Pantoja goes for a flying knee and gets taken down. He gets back up but Moreno takes him down again and works in Pantoja’s guard. Pantoja back up but bleeding badly. He now aggressively goes after Moreno. Another Thai Plum flying knee and takes Moreno down. Moreno gets up near the fence and gets his back taken briefly. Pantoja works on him near the cage. Ref steps in for a break. Pantoja pounces on Moreno again and takes the back, trying to soften up with strikes for the choke. He gets the tap.
#1 ALEXANDRE PANTOJA DEF. #16 BRENDAN MORENO VIA SUBMISSION
Moreno is understandably sad, but I thought he fought well overall.
Next week’s matchup will be No. 8 Terrence Mitchell vs New Zealand’s No. 9 Kai Kara-France.
Kara-France’s backstory is shown. In Thailand, he eats one of the bug delicacies.
Cejudo senses some nervousness during the training session with Kara-France.
Terrence Mitchell represents Anchorage, Alaska and is the Alaska Fighting Championships flyweight champion. He’s 5-10, which is unheard of for a flyweight.
Terrence Mitchell weighs in at 125.5 pounds, while Kara-France comes in at 126 pounds.
Mitchell will enjoy a 5-inch height advantage.
For the first time, we see a bit of jawing between the coaches. Benavidez throws some shade at Cejudo for missing weight.
#8 TERRENCE MITCHELL VS #9 KAI KARA-FRANCE
Mitchell on the outside. Leg kick Kara-France. Kara-France’s shots seem to stun Mitchell, Kai drops Mitchell with several overhand rights and it’s over!
KAI KARA-FRANCE DEF. TERRENCE MITCHELL VIA TKO
Kara-France dedicated the fight to his brother and training partner, who passed away. Mitchell is obviously disappointed.
Team Cejudo leads Team Benavidez, 2-0.
Next week’s fight will be #5 Hiromasa Ogikubo vs #12 Nkazimulo Zulu.