Flying Knee Highlights Second Episode of The Ultimate Fighter 31

Cody Gibson and Mando Gutierrez, The Ultimate Fighter 31 episode 2
Cody Gibson and Mando Gutierrez, The Ultimate Fighter 31 episode 2 Credit: UFC Fight Pass

Come for the coaches, stay for the finishes. So far, that’s been the underlying selling point of The Ultimate Fighter 31, which aired its second episode on Tuesday, June 6.

We’re recapping each episode, just as with previous seasons, so if you’ve yet to catch the action and are worried about spoilers, maybe hold off until you catch up.

The fight originally set to feature on episode two did not happen as scheduled. Originally, Trevor Wells from Team McGregor had been set to throw down with Team Chandler’s Timur Valiev (as an aside, one of the more puzzling cuts in recent UFC history). However, early in the episode, Nevada Athletic Commission Executive Director Jeff Mullen arrives to inform the coaches that Wells is unable to compete due to a medical issue, which he does not initially disclose.

Chandler, whose fighter now has to sit out as a result (maybe as little as a week, maybe longer), is intent on learning why — is this a legit medical issue, is it anxiety?

Valiev’s response is more telling, as he immediately asks if he’s going to have to cut weight again.

The culprit comes down to a cold sore, which, given the possibility of contagion, a fighter cannot compete with. Dana White recognizes the difficulty of having the fighters cut weight again with so little time in between, and leaves a catchweight on the table.

No final decision is made, so we’ll see how this plays out moving forward.

You can’t help but feel for Valiev, who much like Dante in Clerks, shouldn’t even be there in the first place. He should, frankly, still be on the UFC roster, but here we are. It’s a bummer for Wells as well, of course. At least it seems as if they’ll still get to fight.

Swapped with Wells vs. Valiev is Cody Gibson vs. Mando Gutierrez. You might remember Mando from his Contender Series fight with Raul Rosas Jr., the youngest fighter to ever sign with the UFC.

“I might not have as deep of a record as many of the guys here,” says Gutierrez, before noting he’s probably put in more time than anyone. Conor McGregor calls him a “phenomenal athlete, phenomenal wrestler.” As he should be — he was McGregor’s top-ranked bantamweight.

Before we get to the fights, the cameras catch UFC vet Roosevelt Roberts getting into it with Team McGregor’s Landon Quinones. The necessity of this verbal sparring is non-existent, with Roberts feeling slighted by Quinones’ brimming confidence. Something pretty much every fighter in the house no doubt has. When Roberts hints at throwing down with Quinones in the house, we’ve hit farcical levels of silliness. Fighting in the house means getting thrown off the show, and losing one’s chance at cracking the UFC roster.

With recent TUF seasons having opted to leave a lot of drama on the cutting room floor, it’s somewhat concerning to see this spat on camera just two episodes in. If there’s a payoff (should the pair compete later in the season), fine, but if it’s chirping for chirping’s sake, it’s wholly unnecessary.

For those who missed it, the first round TUF 31 match-ups can be found here.

Getting back to why we’re tuning in, the camera turns to Cody Gibson. It’s easy to forget Gibson has been out of the UFC for eight years, something he reminds the audience of. McGregor, meanwhile, tells Mando Gutierrez to execute his game plan. “We make them do what we want.”

Turns out, it isn’t that simple. Early on in the second fight of the season, Gibson holds center, using his length well and flashing a front kick. After the pair tie up along the fence, McGregor calls for a left hand to the temple. But it’s after the clinch, back out in the center of the cage, that the end comes.

In a statement finish, Cody Gibson unleashes a slick flying knee that drops Mando. Mando covers up but is bloodied and clearly rocked, and soon enough to ref waves things off. Gibson has the victory, and Team Chandler are up 2-0 on the season.

So far, the fights this season have delivered, though we’re only two episodes in. If that trend continues, it should make any further tomfoolery, be it between house members or coaches, a little easier to bear.