The Ultimate Fighter: Season 12 Episode 2: “Well-Played”

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Previously on TUF, 28 of the toughest lightweights entered the cage, but only 14 emerged to take their spots in the house. Tonight, coaches GSP and Kos choose their teams in the hopes of producing The Ultimate Fighter.

The chosen ones roll up to their new digs, and as usual are just floored by what they see. Like kids on Christmas, they run around, taking it all and choosing rooms. It isn’t long before they end up either in the pool or in the kitchen…not to mention they start sizing each up skill-wise (in particular, Jeff, the smoker/drinker). But their down time is short lived.

Before long, they are on their way back to the gym for team selection. Several weigh in on who they prefer as a coach, while the coaches rank the guys and plan their strategy for making choices. GSP plans on trying to fake Koscheck out, by making Marc Stevens’ name highly visible on his list. He hopes this will cause Kos to pick Stevens first, thereby letting GSP snag Michael Johnson. And initially, it looks like the plan is going to work. Kos wins the coin flip and chooses first fighter pick and….

He plays right into GSP’s game and picks Marc Stevens. GSP is smiling like a fox in a henhouse as he picks Michael Johnson.

And the teams are (in order in which they were picked):

Team GSP
Michael Johnson, Jonathan Brookins, Spencer Paige, Alex Caceres, Kyle Watson, Cody McKenzie, Dane Sayers

Team Koscheck
Marc Stevens, Sevak Magakian, Sako Chivitchian, Andy Main, Nam Phan, Aaron Wilkinson, Jeff Lentz

Once the teams are decided, they get right to training. GSP says that he wants to be less like a coach and more like a training partner. He wants to bring in many different coaches, such as Greg Jackson (the maestro, the strategist) and John Danaher (the encyclopedia, the smartest man GSP knows). According to GSP he chose his fighters based on their ability to be helped. To him, it’s not about him and not about him winning; it’s about the guys and how it’s their time to shine.

At Team Kos’ training, Kos thinks he has a bit of an advantage, because he himself has been through TUF before. He believes in ‘mindless training’ — listen to him and you will achieve your goals. As for his coaching staff, he believes them to be world class- Bob Cook is his head guy, capable of doing it all, in addition to Teddy Lucio (his personal boxing coach) and Daniel Cormier. He also realizes that he has been labeled (the heel of the UFC) and wants to use that as motivation. His goal: to beat GSP and to win this competition.

Next up is the first fight announcement, which is GSP’s pick. He opts to pit Alex Caceres (Bruce-Leroy) against Jeff Lentz. Apparently, Alex wanted this fight and GSP wants to keep him happy. Dana, however, was surprised at GSP’s approach at letting his guys choose their opponents. Kos has zero fear.

Back at the house, Alex is already prepping for his fight. He talks about how he got into MMA when his dad showed him “Enter the Dragon.” However, it wasn’t until he was 14 that he started wrestling and really training. Later at the gym, GSP admires Alex’s tenacity and motivation. Coach Danaher says that it’s all about control, matchup and strategy.

On the flipside, proud Jersey-boy Jeff Lentz (yay Jersey! I actually just realized that I saw Lentz fight in Jersey this past November — he’s a scrappy MF’er! Not only does the guy fight for Kurt Pellegrino, but he looks like him too!), talks about his strengths over Alex — his ground game and his ability to break Alex down to the point where he wants to go home. Kos expresses his concern over his “fighter’s diet” of coffee and cigarettes. He’s hoping Jeff can still take it seriously.

Lentz at Ring of Combat in Atlantic City, NJ - Nov 2009


Both guys are completely pumped and ready to win. Seems to me that Lentz has the motivation and will, but I can’t help but wonder if Caceres has the better skill set.

Immediately, Caceres seems more aggressive with a head kick followed by a checked knee. Lentz backs off of a big roundhouse, unfazed. Lentz charges and has control of Caceres against the cage. Neither advances much in this position, but Lentz is at least trying to better his control and works some knees. Lentz then goes for the throw, but Caceres is able to keep himself up. A solid minute of slow dirty boxing. They are warned to work, and Caceres gets his arms around Lentz’s neck, looking for the guillotine. He goes so far as to leap up to secure the choke, but can’t sink it. Back to the clinch, the wrestle and Caceres looks for it again as he takes it to the floor, but can’t finish it. At first Lentz is in Caceres’s guard, but they are back up quickly. Caceres tries again to take Lentz down, but it doesn’t last. Lentz is back in control with Caceres’s back against the fence. Herb Dean restarts them in the center, and finally we get a decent exchange. Caceres’s body kick, for Lentz’s leg kick. Now they really begin to slug it out, and the round ends with a nice slam from Lentz. Round 1 was ALL Lentz.

Definitely a more tentative start, but Caceres strikes first with a checked head kick. Lentz follows up with a body kick and is more the aggressor this time. Caceres is backing up and Lentz gets him back into the clinch. He tries to get Caceres down, but it is Caceres who gets him down with back control. But Lentz is quick to roll out of it and into Caceres’s guard. Lentz then turns on the ground and pound. Lentz starts to punish his face and ribs, but Caceres waits for the opportunity to wrap his legs around Lentz for the triangle. At first he hooks the wrong leg, but he corrects it. Lentz tries to slam Caceres to get his legs loose, but to no avail. Caceres is patient and works on pulling his legs tighter…until Lentz taps.

Winner: Alex Caceres via Submission (Triangle)

One thing’s for sure, no one is going to doubt Lentz’s cardio! He got caught and was disappointed, but he’s not giving up. With the first round going the way it went, he very well may be back for the wildcard.

And although I initially disliked Alex, he is starting to grow on me ?

Next week: Alex goes too far with his post-fight boasting. Kos accuses his team of losing focus. Iron Mike Tyson makes a visit to the gym. Who will the next fight be?