The suspense is over. Or perhaps, heightened.
In a milestone for Brazilian MMA, “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” began on Sunday, the first edition of the reality show to take place outside the U.S. According to the Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics, Globo increased its audience by 15 percent during the “TUF Brazil” premiere. It was estimated that approximately 8 million people watched the show throughout the South American country.
Unlike its live American counterpart, which airs each Friday on FX, “TUF Brazil” follows a format similar to that of the show’s previous installments. Sixteen fighters will be confined in a house and divided between featherweight and middleweight. The top two from each weight class are expected to square off at UFC 147 on June 23, with the eventual winners earning a six-figure contract with the UFC.
Before the first episode began, Globo TV offered a general explanation about the UFC for the benefit of the novice MMA fans in Brazil. Then the premiere began, with 16 fights in Rio de Janeiro’s HSBC Arena to determine who would enter the “TUF Brazil” house. The premiere featured prominent national names such as Pedro Nobre, Delson Heleno, Gilberto Galvao, Sergio Moraes and Rony Mariano Bezerra as well as lesser known talents who also hoped to fulfill their dream of making onto the cast.
Coaches Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva settled nicely into their roles, with Silva cracking a joke about cup size after a fight between John Teixeira and Giovanni da Silva Santos Jr. featured back-to-back groin shots. "Mine is extra large," Silva said, bursting into laughter.
The majority of the fights didn’t make it to the judges’ scorecards. Highlights included a hard-fought victory for Bezerra, who rallied to defeated Dileno Lopes after suffering two knockdowns, while Francisco Drinaldo showed off his heavy hands, scoring a quick knockout of Charles Maicon. Also notable were the punishing elbows utilized by Hugo Viana in his triumph over Alexander Ramos and a three-round slugfest between Anistavio Medeiros de Figueiredo and Rafael Bueno that Silva, Belfort and UFC President Dana White deemed to be “Fight of the Night.”
A sneak peak at the upcoming season was given following the opening episode, and it foreshadowed the usual arguments between teammates and coaches, as well as guest appearances by Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo and Rafael Cordeiro.
“The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” Episode 1 Winners:
Rony Mariano Bezerra def. Dileno Lopes by first-round TKO
Godofredo Pepey def. Johnny Goncalves by first-round triangle choke
Hugo Viana def. Alexandre Ramos by first-round TKO
Rodrigo Damm finished Fabricio de Assis Costa da Silva by second-round rear-naked choke
Wagner Campos def. Fernando Duarte Guerra by decision
John Teixeira def. Giovanni da Silva Santos Jr. by first-round armbar
Anistavio Medeiros de Figueiredo def. Rafael Bueno by decision
Marcos Vinicius Borges Pancini def. Pedro Nobre by first-round TKO
Francisco Drinaldo def. Charles Maicon by first-round TKO
Cezar Ferreira def. Gustavo Sampaio by second-round guillotine choke
Daniel Sarafian def. Richardson Moreira by decision
Sergio Moraes def. Thiago Rela by first-round heel hook
Thiago de Oliveira Perpetuo def. Joao Paulo de Souza by decision
Renee Forte def. Fabio Luiz Vital da Costa by decision
Delson Heleno def. Gilberto Galvao by decision
Leonardo Mafra Texeira def. Samuel Trindade by decision
Marcelo Alonso contributed to this report