The Ultimate Fighter 28 has its first big upset of the season, and coach Kelvin Gastelum has himself a 3-0 start.
Team Gastelum’s Justin Frazier (10-2) put on a dominant performance on episode three of TUF 28, using wrestling and ground-and-pound to win a lopsided unanimous decision over coach Robert Whittaker’s No. 1 heavyweight pick Anderson da Silva (3-1). It was Whittaker who had chosen this week’s matchup, pairing da Silva up with Frazier, who was the last heavyweight selected.
None of that mattered once Frazier and da Silva stepped into the cage. Five seconds into the opening round, Frazier closed the distance with an overhand left and quickly took da Silva down to the mat. From there, the Glory kickboxing veteran could do little but hold Frazier in his guard as he was battered by punches and elbows from top position.
Frazier opened up a cut over da Silva’s right eye, leaving him a bloody mess by the end of round one. It was likely a 10-8 round for Frazier.
The second period was more of the same. While da Silva had a little more success on the feet, a poorly timed kick led to Frazier shooting in and planting him on his back once again. Da Silva was unable to stand or initiate any offense from bottom position, and Frazier was content to keep scoring points and ride out the rest of the fight from half guard.
It was a big win for Frazier, who had never been past the first round in any of his 12 professional fights. The 29-year-old had his coaches concerned about his cardio and weight issues (he weighed in at 266 pounds for the da Silva fight), but he delivered on fight day.
“That was the upset from what I understand,” Frazier said in a post-fight testimonial. “I was the very last pick, he was the very first pick for Team Whittaker. They selected that fight, that was the fight they wanted. I don’t think it really turned out how they planned it would.”
With the win, Team Gastelum improved to 3-0 in the competition so far. Perhaps desperate for a win, Whittaker once again put one of his top prospects against one of Gastelum’s more lightly regarded fighters. He chose No. 1 women’s featherweight pick Julija Stoliarenko to face the last pick at 145 pounds, Marciea Allen.
In other storylines, Team Whittaker’s Leah Letson was shown having trouble communicating with her teammates, several of whom do not use English as their primary language. Team Gastelum’s Frazier and Maurice Greene aren’t convinced that the international contestants in the house are being completely honest about their English skills, with Greene being particularly suspicious of Cuban wrestling standout Michel Batista.
Here are the first-round results so far:
Maurice Greene def. Przemyslaw Mysiala via KO (uppercut) in round one
Pannie Kianzad def. Katharina Lehner via unanimous decision
Justin Frazier def. Anderson da Silva via unanimous decision
On next week’s episode, Team Whittaker’s Julija Stoliarenko fights Team Gastelum’s Marciea Allen in a featherweight bout.
Season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter is being coached by UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and top contender Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum will challenge Whittaker for the middleweight title at a future date to be determined.
The finalists of the TUF 28 heavyweight and featherweight tournaments will compete for a six-figure UFC contract at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale on Nov. 30 in Las Vegas.
Here is the TUF 28 roster divided by team:
Juan Francisco Espino
Anderson da Silva
Advancing to Round 2: Greene, Kianzad, Frazier
Eliminated: Mysiala, Lehner, Da Silva