Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, April 7, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
The winner of the 13th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” will not be from Las Vegas.
The only fighter based out of Las Vegas, Javier Torres, lost a unanimous decision in the second episode of the season, which aired Wednesday night on Spike.
The 23-year old Torres out-grappled San Diego-based UFC hopeful Chris Cope in the first round of their fight but was visibly exhausted after that. Cope, 28, landed enough strikes in the second and sudden-death rounds to advance in the competition.
“There wasn’t nothing fancy or pretty or cool about Chris’ win,” said Brock Lesnar, Cope’s coach on the show. “He just showed perseverance and heart.”
Lesnar and his coaching opponent, Junior Dos Santos, each have one win on the show after Shamar Bailey won the first bout for Team Dos Santos last week.
The result of this week’s fight came as a much bigger surprise than Bailey’s victory. Dos Santos picked the Torres vs. Cope fight and even Lesnar appeared to concede that Torres was a favorite on the episode by saying Cope “doesn’t wow us.”
But Cope said in an interview on the set of TUF in January that he was used to being an underdog in his fighting career. Cope works eight-hour days in a law office, leading some to believe he isn’t as dedicated to mixed martial arts as his competitors.
But Cope insists that’s not the case and that he’s only following his aspirations.
“The ultimate goal is to fight and have a legal career,” Cope said. “Basically, be a lawyer and still fight professionally.”
Cope has dedicated himself to training since high school. He started doing karate as a child because he loved Jean-Claude Van Damme movies.
When he found himself in a fight with the linebacker of his high school football team, however, Cope realized his karate kicks didn’t do enough damage. That’s when he took up kickboxing.
The next discipline in his martial arts journey came when he met a jiu-jitsu practitioner at a house party in an unforgettable encounter.
“My buddy flipped off his Tapout hat and then (the man) jumped on his back and choked him unconscious,” Cope said. “At that point, I thought this jiu-jitsu stuff was kind of cool.”
Cope said the final step in completing his game would be improving his wrestling. That’s something Lesnar, a former NCAA champion wrestler at Minnesota, should be able to help with.
TUF house loses another fighter
Keon Caldwell, a 26-year old fighter from Moultire, Ga., decided to leave TUF and return home to be with his family on the episode.
Caldwell had a tough time in his brief appearances on the show. He was the last pick in the coaches’ draft in the premiere episode and had trouble keeping up with Dos Santos’ training program at the beginning of Wednesday’s show.
By the midway point of the episode, Caldwell had decided to leave. He said it was because he missed his wife and 6-year old daughter.
“The only upside to this thing is it happened early enough to get his ass out of here and get somebody real in here that can run with this opportunity and make something out of it,” UFC President Dana White said on the show.