‘The Ultimate Fighter 31: McGregor vs. Chandler’ Episode 1 recap: One of the fastest KOs in TUF history

“The Ultimate Fighter 31: Team McGregor vs. Team Chandler” kicked off in style with its debut episode Tuesday on ESPN.

The season is set to run from May 30 to Aug. 15 with the live finale expected for later this year. The promotion also intends for coaches Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler to square off in the months that follow the conclusion of the season.

On the premiere episode, McGregor and Chandler meet face to face and exchange words before they draft teams. The season kicks off with one of the fastest knockouts in the series’ history.

Scroll below for a recap of Episode 1 and make sure to check out an exclusive insider look from TUF 31 cast member Kurt Holobaugh, who will peel back the curtain on MMA Junkie the morning after each episode airs.

'Mystic Mac' meets 'Mystic Mike'

In the opening scene, McGregor and Chandler arrive at the UFC Apex and meet face-to-face. The two shake hands immediately and Chandler gives him props for taking the fight as “it’s the hardest fight you can come back and take.”

McGregor warns, “Be careful what you wish for,” and asks “Mystic Mike” Chandler for a prediction. Chandler predicts a second-round knockout. McGregor tells him to keep dreaming and says the fight will happen at 185.

“You’ll do what you’re told,” McGregor said. “I’m going to pin you. This is my game. This is my game forever.”

Teams drafted: Vets vs. prospects

The cast members are joined by UFC president Dana White and the coaches for the draft.

Unlike past seasons, the bantamweight and lightweight fighters are divided into two groups per division: vets and prospects. Rather than draft individual fighters, the coaches draft from the four groups.

The first pick is determined by coin toss. White flips the coin and McGregor gets first dibs. He selects the lightweight prospects.

Chandler automatically gets the lightweight veterans and then selects the bantamweight veterans. That means McGregor gets the bantamweight prospects.

The teams are as follows:

Team McGregor

  • Lee Hammond – lightweight

  • Nate Jennerman – lightweight

  • Aaron McKenzie – lightweight

  • Landon Quinones – lightweight

  • Rico DiSciullo – bantamweight

  • Mando Gutierrez – bantamweight

  • Carlos Vera – bantamweight

  • Trevor Wells – bantamweight

Team Chandler

  • Kurt Holobaugh – lightweight

  • Austin Hubbard – lightweight

  • Jason Knight – lightweight

  • Roosevelt Roberts – lightweight

  • Hunter Azure – bantamweight

  • Cody Gibson – bantamweight

  • Brad Katona – bantamweight

  • Timur Valiev – bantamweight

Assistant coaches

During the drafting of teams, McGregor and Chandler revealed their assistant coaches.

Team McGregor: Cian Cowley, Owen Roddy

Team Chandler: Ryan Bader, Robert Drysdale, Jason Strout

The hard work begins

After the fighters moved into the house, they return to the gym for their first training sessions.

While Chandler ran his team through light drills, McGregor has his crew jump immediately into hard sparring and even jumps in.

The coaches are tasked with running their groups through workouts and then ranking them 1-4 in each division.

Team McGregor

  • Lightweights: Lee Hammond (1), Nate Jennerman (2),  Aaron McKenzie (3), Landon Quinones (4)

  • Bantamweights: Mando Gutierrez (1), Trevor Wells (2), Carlos Vera (3), Rico DiSciullo (4)

Team Chandler

  • Lightweights: Jason Knight (1), Austin Hubbard (2), Roosevelt Roberts (3), Kurt Holobaugh (4)

  • Bantamweights: Hunter Azure (1), Brad Katona (2), Timur Valiev (3), Cody Gibson (4)

First round matchups announced

With the seeding, the first rounds of the brackets are booked traditionally with the fight order as follows.

  • Nate Jennerman (Chandler LW 2) vs. Roosevelt Roberts (McGregor LW 3)

  • Trevor Wells (McGregor BW 2) vs. Timur Valiev (Chandler BW 3)

  • Aaron McKenzie (McGregor LW 3) vs. Austin Hubbard (Chandler LW 2)

  • Mando Gutierrez (McGregor BW 1) vs. Cody Gibson (Chandler BW 4)

  • Carlos Vera (McGregor BW 3) vs. Brad Katona (Chandler BW 2)

  • Lee Hammond (McGregor LW 1) vs. Kurt Holobaugh (Chandler LW 4)

  • Landon Quinones (McGregor LW 4) vs. Jason Knight (Chandler LW 1)

  • Rico DiSciullo (McGregor BW 4) vs. Hunter Azure (Chandler BW 1)

The fight: Nate Jennerman vs. Roosevelt Roberts

Weight: Lightweight

Team McGregor fighter: Nate Jennerman (16-5)

Team Chandler fighter: Roosevelt Roberts (12-3)

Result: Roosevelt Roberts def. Nate Jennerman via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 0:08

In what Dana White afterward called “one of the fastest knockouts in TUF history for sure,” Roberts made quick work of Jennerman. After an initial one-two combination, Roberts pursued Jennerman and fired the same combo again. This time, the straight right hand floored Jennerman, who ate two Roberts hammerfists before referee Mark Smith dove in.

While the exact time was not announced in the decision, Smith touched the fighters for the stoppage at what appears to be eight seconds into Round 1.

After the fight, the vibes in the opposing locker rooms are polar opposites. Team Chandler is elated by Roberts’ win while a tearful Jennerman receives positive encouragement from coach McGregor and teammates.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie