After the premiere episode that defined the 16 fighters who would star on the first ever season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show in Brazil, the program was back on Rede Globo channel last Sunday.
Besides introducing the sorting of “Team Vitor” and “Team Wanderlei”, the episode also featured the first end-of-episode fight—classifying one of the featherweights who would go through to the semifinal. After two five-minute rounds, Ceara State native Godofredo Pepey defeated Wagner Galeto via split decision, putting “Team Vitor” into the lead and place the choice of making next episode’s matchup in Belfort’s hands.
(Watch Godofredo Pepey competing in the gi against another of the show’s participants, Rony Jason.)
The show started with the fighters getting to know the house where they will be confined for the rest of the season. “The excitement of getting in here is second to none. Surely everyone was thinking the same thing: that this is all of our dream house,” said Rony Jason.
They split up into the five rooms in the house, which is fully equipped with a pool, tub, sauna, and a leisure area decked with punching bags, pool and foosball tables. From there, they moved on to the training center, the only location outside the house to which they have access while the show is being shot.
At the training center, they were welcomed by UFC president Dana White, who awaited them in the octagon to oversee the picking of “Team Wanderlei” and “Team Victor.” Just as in the American version, the UFC kingpin had a speech for the athletes, preparing them for the difficult weeks of training and confinement ahead. White also announced that the two UFC contracts aren’t the only bounty up for grabs; there is also the TUF bonuses for best knockout, best fight and best submission—worth 45,000 reais apiece.
“You made it this far, but the journey is just beginning. I guarantee that over the next six weeks you all will be tested mentally, physically and emotionally. A lot of you think you know what you’ve gotten into, but believe me when I say you don’t,” asserted White. “These will be the most difficult months of your lives. But if your dream is to be a professional fighter and one day make it to the level of the guys next to me [Vitor and Wanderlei], this is the opportunity of your lifetime.”
To begin picking sides, White flipped a coin with one side blue (Wanderlei) and the other green (Vitor). Wanderlei won the right to either pick the first fighter or match the first fight; He opted to call up his first “pupil”: the Rodrigo Minotauro-trained Rony Jason.
Jason was jubilant about having been picked first ahead of everyone else. Now Gasparzinho, who turned out to be the prankster of the house, was nonplussed about having been picked last. “You end up getting lost in the deck,” he remarked. When all was said and done, the teams took the following form:
Marcus Vinícius Vina
Delson Pé de Chumbo
The episode also showed the first training sessions under the orientation of the coaches and their respective trainers, who lend their expertise in honing specific abilities in the fighters. After getting to know the eight members of his team better, Vitor Belfort announced the inaugural matchup: Wagner Galeto (Wand) against Godofredy Pepey (Vitor).
Besides the picking of teams and the first fight of the season, the second episode of the program featured an illustrious visitor. José Aldo, the champion of the UFC featherweight division, didn’t just drop in on the athletes, he watched the battle and even gave his predictions after the fight. Another face familiar to fans was also there to mark a presence, the official cage girl of the UFC Brittney Palmer held up the cards between rounds. Not to mention Mario Yamasaki, who refereed the bout.
Pepey wins evenly matched affair in the octagon
The fight started out with both fighters showing caution. Pepeu, who Wanderlei praised for his Jiu-Jitsu, did the expected: he tried to take his opponent to the ground. However, Galeto thwarted the Ceará natives first few takedown attempts, keeping the action on the feet—although Pepey did manage to pull his rival into his guard on the ground. In the standup action, Pepey was a bit standoffish, using more kicks and knees, while Galeto opted to use his fists. Less than a minute from the end of the round, one of Pepey’s strikes landed flush, crumpling Galeto down up against the cage, where the Ceará native followed up with strikes from top position. Galeto grabbed his opponent’s leg and tried for a submission, but Pepey managed to break free, in the tail end of the round pulling guard.
Galeto started into the second round swinging. Pepey tried attempted a kick. Trying to find his range, Pepey threatened with a knee and tried a punch, accidentally landing below the belt, causing a halt to be called to the bout. Pepey asked forgiveness of his opponent and was warned about a possible point deduction if he were to do it again. Back at center cage, Pepey was cautious until landing a kick to the thigh that set off a brief flurry of strikes. The standup action remained sporadic until Pepey again landed a low blow. Yamasaki chose not to penalize him, though, as the blow was not intentional. Pepey continued throwing kicks to his opponent’s thigh and head, while Galeto stuck to his fists until the end of the battle.
Once the two five-minute rounds were done, Pepey was declared champion, to the joy of Team Vitor and the disappointement of Wanderlei’s squad. The latter coach, who felt his athlete should have won, comforted his fighter. “I’m never going to give up,” declared a weepy Galeto, who broke into tears as he spoke about his daughter. Even in defeat, Wagner will not be leaving the house. He will continue to live there and train with the other compeitors, perhaps getting a second shot if one of the remaining fighters is rendered unable to fight.
“The importance of winning the fight is self-esteem, positivity; it’s great,” said a jubilant Pepey. The zeal of the celebrations of the athletes on Team Belfort bothered the coach, though, and he took it as a cue to teach the importance of respecting one’s opponent. “The more respect I have, the more authority I have,” stated Belfort. With the first win of the season in the bag, Team Vitor earned the right to match the next episode, this time at middleweight. With each episode, the winning team earns the right to match the next fight.