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The Ultimate Fighter 31 - Episode 2 Breakdown

(Photographs via MMA Junkie and ESPN)

By: Kevin Thomas

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Team Chandler earned another emphatic victory over Team McGregor in this week's episode of The Ultimate Fighter. This week's episode also featured cold sores, a flying-knee knockout, an inspirational story of adoption, and a lesson in what can happen when you have a support system injecting you with confidence.

The second episode of the 31st season of The Ultimate Fighter began with some adversity for a member of coach Conor McGregor's Bantamweight division, Trevor Wells.

Wells said that he woke up to a flareup of cold sores above his lip. He continued to say that it can happen in new environments and with the heavy stress that can come with an experience like being on a show like The Ultimate Fighter.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission decided he was unfit to compete and so fans witnessed the bedside manner of each coach as they broke the news of fight cancellation to their fighters. Well's scheduled opponent Timur Valiev handled the bad news very well.

Dana White was also caught off guard as he showed up to see a fight that was not going to be put on. White spent his first appearance in this week's episode trying to sort out the logistics of re-booking the fight.

"We need to find a date and a weight to hold this fight at that is going to be fair to everybody," White said during this week's episode.

As a result of the cancellation, this week's fight would take place between Bantamweights Mando Gutierrez and Cody Gibson. Gutierrez came into this bout as the number one ranked bantamweight on Team McGregor. While Gibson, who has been out of the UFC longer than any of his veteran counterparts on the show, entered the octagon as the number four ranked fighter on coach Michael Chandler's Bantamweight squad.

During the training for his upcoming bout with Team McGregor, Gutierrez received some insightful and hands-on coaching from coach McGregor. Gutierrez also inquired about what "The Notorious" thinks about before making his walk to the octagon. Moments like those between McGregor and his fighters are showing fans windows into the mind of the most captivating fighter of the last decade.

Gutierrez has some skill not only on the mats but also with the clippers as well as through this week's episode, fans learned of Gutierrez's beautiful dogs and ability to cut hair as he was given the opportunity to give a cut to McGregor himself, who would not sit still during the haircut.

Drama also poked it's head out during this week's episode as prospect Landon Quinones' mindset and talkative personality clashed with the star of episode 1, Roosevelt Roberts. Quinones' comments bothered Roberts, who believed that Quinones was talking down to the veterans.

"I already know I'm at this level and I can be there... These guys have been cut already and there's a reason they've been cut. It's just up to me to prove why they've been cut." Said Quinones.

Tensions began to rise as Roberts began to apply verbal pressure on Quinones. Meanwhile, Robert's Team Chandler teammate Jason Knight broke the ice by stating, "I'm just trying to eat some stir fry, man. Y'all can chill out."

While preparing for his bout against Gutierrez, Cody Gibson shared a moment with his coach as they shared their gratitude for the child adoption process. Chandler has two adopted children. Gibson is a child of adoption.

Gibson and his older brother were adopted at a young age and later would become brothers to two special needs siblings.

They shared a very personal moment where Gibson shared his family history with Chandler as they bonded over the importance of a stable home life that can sometimes be provided by adoption.

"It's such a beautiful thing and God makes families in a lot of different ways... Life is a beautiful thing, it's crazy." Chandler said.

Gibson stated on AfterTUF, ESPN's show that summarizes the week's episode with interviews with fighters and coaches, that this conversation with Chandler sparked connections with not only his head coach but also members of the show's production team that were adopted and wanted to reach out and say something.

"Not only myself but another guy in the house, Trevor was also adopted. A bunch of the production crew, I don't know how it kept getting brought up but I just keep meeting people that were adopted." Gibson said.

This week's fight featured another highlight reel finish in round one. Gibson continuously applied pressure on Gutierrez, keeping the Mexican fighter on his back foot. Gutierrez was seen possibly using too much lateral movement, forfeiting the center of the octagon to Gibson.

McGregor who was sporting a nice suit and a large cowboy hat given to him by Gutierrez during walkouts, was heard shouting directions to Gutierrez to make efforts to take back the center of the octagon and use his jab more. This effort was futile.

Gibson would land a showstopping flying knee that fully landed on the right cheek of Gutierrez who immediately fell to the ground. After receiving some hammer fists from Gibson, the 25-year-old Gutierrez covered up before referee Jason Herzog called the fight. Gutierrez was immediately cut by the violent and concussive knee of Gibson.

"I fought my heart out and it wasn't enough. I love this game but sometimes it just doesn't love me back. I'll be back, it is what it is," Gutierrez said after his loss with one eye swollen shut.

"It ain't over until we win!" McGregor said to his fighter in the locker room after the TKO loss. This small moment also provided a view into the thought processes of McGregor as he eyes his own return to combat. A return after a traumatic leg injury and a long time away from the octagon filled with lots of vacations and glasses of his Proper 12 Irish Whiskey.

Coach Chandler praised the perseverance and mental toughness of Gibson on AfterTUF when he said, "Leading up to that [fight], they didn't show a lot of it, but Cody was struggling, that first weight cut, the first couple days before that fight. I was really worried about where Cody's head was at."

Chandler continued to speak on Gibson's development in self-confidence, " After [the fight], he walked over to me looked me right in the eyes, and said 'Thank you so much, you made me believe in myself when I couldn't' and that was honestly, maybe the greatest moment of the entire season."

Chandler also beautifully summarised what can happen when those around you believe in you, "We led with love, the biggest thing is leading with love. I know it sounds cliche but the punches, the kicks, the knees, and the elbows, that is all going to take care of itself. If you can go out there with a full heart, with a full cup. You're going to go out there and you're going to compete to the best of your abilities."

This week's episode was a really entertaining show filled with insight into the minds and motivations of the coaches and fighters, drama, conflict, haircuts, some drinks, and a cracking knee to end the night.


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