The second episode of “The Ultimate Fighter 16” opens with the fighters racing through the house to check out their new accommodations. Particularly noteworthy is the fridge full of beer.
It does not take long before Matt Secor fires the first verbal jab of the season.
“Pink’s the color of p----; that’s why we like it,” he informs Julian Lane, who sports a mohawk of the same color. Shortly thereafter, we see Mike Ricci and Michael Hill saying grace over salad and wine. Ricci is already lamenting that most of his housemates are not on his level mentally. As always, “The Ultimate Fighter” is a study in contrasts.
During Shane Carwin’s first training session, the former interim heavyweight champion explains that he is nervous about the coaching gig because he wants his team to do well. His assistants include Grudge Training Center leader Trevor Wittman and UFC heavyweight talent Pat Barry. Carwin appears satisfied with the initial workout, calling his team “a bunch of monsters.”
Meanwhile, Nelson wants his practices to begin at 4 p.m. to align with the time of the show’s fights. “Big Country” informs the team that he is not doing two-a-days, and much of the practice is devoted to technique instead of live sparring, which frustrates some of the fighters who are accustomed to a more rigorous regimen.
Next, it is time for the first fight announcement. Recognizing that it is Neil Mangy’s birthday, Nelson calls out the Team Carwin member to square off with Cameron Diffley. Team Nelson’s Diffley believes a prior coaching stint on the reality show as an assistant to Forrest Griffin will benefit him in the matchup. Nelson seems confident that Diffley’s jiu-jitsu will put Magny in some difficult positions. Not surprisingly, Carwin disagrees, as do many of his fighters.
Back at the house, Secor and Lane are going at it again, and an expletive-laden exchange ensues. “I’m not here to sit in a hot tub, sit in a pool, eat food and make friends with these people,” Secor explains. Somehow, it is only fitting that the newly minted rivals sleep right next to each other.
Later, Bristol Marunde points out the obvious to his teammates: Nelson has a bad haircut and a less-than-imposing physique. However, Magny seems encouraged that a coach with such a sloppy appearance is not capable of making smart fight choices.
Magny gives a brief explanation of his background, saying that wrestling rescued him from hanging out with the wrong crowd. His attitude adjustment continued after high school when he joined the Army. These days, Magny says he does not have many other interests outside of fighting.
Carwin is impressed with Magny’s jab and cardio. Assistant coach Wittman believes Magny can keep his opponent at bay and control the action with constant activity. Everyone agrees that the primary goal is to avoid allowing Diffley to work his ground game.
Enough of the serious strategy. It is prank time for Lane and Colton Smith, who hope to provide a much-needed morale boost by dumping a container of flour on an unsuspecting member of Team Carwin as he comes through the front door. Ricci is the lucky one to be doused, and laughter erupts throughout the house. Mission accomplished.
Now it is Diffley’s turn to introduce himself. Growing up in Las Vegas, he has been fortunate enough to work with many of the area’s high-caliber fighters. A jiu-jitsu coach for Griffin and Amir Sadollah, Diffley has also worked extensively with Nate Diaz and Nick Diaz.
In the days leading up to the fight, Smith, a wrestler by trade, has been assigned with the job of emulating Magny. Coach Nelson does not want to overthink things too much. Instead, he would rather focus on what Diffley does best, which is the ground game.
Finally, it is fight day: “As soon as the bell sounds, I’m just going to impose my will from the beginning,” Magny says.
“I feel really honored to be the first pick [to fight]. That means Roy really trusts me to come away with the win,” Diffley says.
In an interesting development, Carwin has elected to leave the cornering duties to his trusted team of coaches. “This isn’t about me,” he says. With that, we are ready for action.
Magny lands a couple of low kicks early and then follows with a nice two-punch combination. The Team Carwin member catches a kick and tosses Diffley to the canvas but wisely avoids following the grappling specialist to the mat. Magny finds success following his leg kicks with punches. After stuffing a Diffley takedown attempt, Magny defends against a kneebar and then a heel hook. Eventually, Diffley moves into top position with about a minute to go, and that is how the frame ends.
Magny really begins to establish a rhythm in round two, as he backs Diffley against the fence with a combination and then winds up in half guard, where he lands more strikes before returning to his feet. For the majority of the round, Magny does a good job of staying on the outside and consistently landing combinations. Meanwhile, Diffley struggles to mount any significant offense. Even when he attempts another takedown, it is Magny who winds up in top position. Magny closes out the frame with one more combination, leaving little doubt as to who took the round.
UFC President Dana White announces that all three judges have scored the fight 20-18 in favor of Magny.
“It wasn’t as easy as I thought it was gonna be,” Magny says. “He had a deep heel hook in there; it wasn’t easy to get out of it, but I’ll take this as a birthday present.”