The Return of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Volkanovski vs Team Ortega preview

After a very long period on ice, The Ultimate Fighter is back to bring you week to week drama, antics and fights. We’re already…

By: Victor Rodriguez | 2 years ago
The Return of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Volkanovski vs Team Ortega preview
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

After a very long period on ice, The Ultimate Fighter is back to bring you week to week drama, antics and fights.

We’re already familiar with the coaches, as UFC featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega are set to face each other after the season concludes, but we’re first going to take a look at the fighters involved and where they came from.

Now, remember — we haven’t seen the show or had any spoilers yet. We don’t know who ends up on what team and this is only a primer to be familiar with the talent being brought in.


Vince Murdock, 12-4: Murdock is an interesting pickup, a Team Alpha Male talent that’s spent almost the entirety of his pro career at featherweight. He’ll be competing as a Bantamweight for the first time since 2016, when he faced (and defeated) current UFC talent TJ Laramie. His last bout was on last year’s Contender Series, where he suffered a crushing loss to Luis Saldana. He’s got some solid wrestling skills and pretty heavy hands, but sometimes fades down the line. At age 30, he could fit in pretty well on the show and win some bouts with his control and ability to stay top heavy for periods of time.

Josh Rettinghouse 16-5: Starting his pro career in 2011, Rettinghouse has been something of a quiet threat that never quite made it on to the UFC’s radar. But having spent time in World Series of Fighting, King of the Cage and M-1, he’s got some good seasoning, crafty submissions and a scrappy scrambling grappling style that has netted him a bunch of finishes.

Ricky Turcios, 10-2: After a tough Contender Series loss to Boston Salmon in 2017, Turcios went 2-1 in his native Texas stomping grounds. Another Team Alpha Male product, he’s also spent time training with Alex Morono and is a Taekwondo black belt. It goes well with his BJJ black belt, and he’s got a mean streak as soon as he smells an opportunity for a finish.

Mitch Raposo, 5-0: A former flyweight that held both the AFL and Cage Titans title belts as an amateur, he moved up to bantamweight as soon as he turned pro. He remains undefeated at both weight classes and is a menace with his speed and submission attempts.

Dustin Lampros, 5-0: Having started out at 3-5 as an amateur, the good news is that Lampros promptly improved in his pro career to go undefeated until now. The bad news? Those wins have come to opponents that were 0-8, 6-14-0-4, and 5-10 at the time they fought Lampros. Does this mean he’s not good? Absolutely not, but it mostly means that it’s hard to gauge where he’s at when a young and promising athlete gets a wins against less-than-ideal opposition. He’s been putting in work with Henri Hooft and company over at Sanford MMA, and that’s a big plus. We may get some surprises out of him if he plays his cards right.

Daniel Argueta, 5-0: This man can be an early favorite on this season off resume alone. In fact, he could have easily been signed outright by the UFC. A former Illinois state high school medalist and Division II wrestler, Argueta’s been sharpening his tools at Jackson/Winklejohn and had three straight rear naked choke finishes on his pro record. Splitting time in Combate Americas and LFA, he’s got some good handspeed and is smart about picking his shots to pursue the finish.

Brady Hiestand, 5-1: A Sik-Jitsu product, 22-year-old Hiestand went 5-1 as an amateur with all finishes in his wins. He’s also only gone to a decision once as a pro. That’s pretty great! Unfortunately, we have the same problem as Lampros above. Facing an opponent that’s making their debut or 0-2 in your first two fights is fine, going on to have your remaining wins against fighters that are 0-4, 0-6 and 1-12? It’s not ideal. Again, it’s tough to tell where any talent is when they’re dealing with a field like this. We’ll see how far his training, youth, and athleticism take him.

Liudvik Sholinian, 9-1, 1 draw: Another interesting choice for the show, Sholinian has a fairly well-rounded game, and a good mind for submission attempts. Despite a loss in Bellator to a more experienced Sidemar Honorio, Sholinian got wins over Vince Cachero and DEEP vet Yuma Horiuchi. A former Ukranian wrestling champ, he could present some serious problems to the rest of the field with his grappling and durability.


Gilbert Urbina, 6-1: Another Jackson/Winklejohn prospect, Urbina has only competed at middleweight once before. With most of his career as a welterweight, he’s got two submission wins as a pro (both rear naked chokes) and his lone pro loss was to current UFC talent Sean Brady. At only 25, there’s a good amount of upside here for Urbina whether he makes it past the rest of the competitors or not.

Tresean Gore, 3-0: Making his pro debut at middleweight, Gore moved up to light heavyweight for his other two pro bouts. He’s got fast hands and trains under Dhiego Lima down in Georgia, but how his relative lack of experience will affect him is yet to be seen.

Kemran Lachinov, 10-3: A solid prospect fighting out of Team Link in Massachusetts, Lachinov has won most of his fights by decision but also has two kneebar finishes on his record (here’s one of them).

Andre Petrosky, 5-1: Petrosky trains primarily out of Daniel Gracie Philadelphia, and racked up a 7-1 amateur record. Four of those seven wins were finishes, and every one of his pro wins have been finishes under the Art of War banner. His lone loss was to Aaron Jeffery, who is slated to compete on Contender Series this summer. A gritty athlete that does better work striking from outside, his game really shines when he is able to bully an opponent on the ground and not waste any time.

Ryder Newman, 3-1: Going 6-1 as an amateur, Newman captured the TUFF-N-UFF amateur belt at welterweight and trains out of Xtreme Couture in Vegas. A five-time All-American wrestler, his game is pretty straightforward. Take the other guy down, make him miserable and get out of there quick. Newman could be a revelation here on the show, yet on the other hand may also be in need of a bit more seasoning and development. Either way, he’s in the UFC’s orbit and has a ton of upside.

Miles Hunsinger, 7-0: Originally from Idaho, Hunsinger moved to Vegas and also trains at Xtreme Couture. Also a former amateur wrestler, he’s been brought along well facing decent opposition after moving out of the Idaho fight scene.

Aaron Phillips, 5-2: Alaska state wrestling champion Aaron Phillips has only lost to former Contender Series participants Al Matavao and Collin Huckbody, mostly defeating unproven and inexperienced opposition. That’s not bad, but it’s not what a 5-2 record usually suggests and creates a skill and experience gap between him and others in the field. At least he’s got some good cage time in and has all of his wins by finish. Again, hard to gauge where he is and what his potential is.

Bryan Battle, 5-1: After an amateur run that had him at 8-2 (including a win over Impa Kasanganay), Battle turned pro and has only gone to a decision once since. All of his other wins are finishes, but his striking is rudimentary with porous defense and some wild swings. His kicks look good and add up damage over time, plus his ground game is persistent with pressure and lots of submission attempts and strikes to create more openings. He’s great at walking guys down after battering them in the clinch, but we’ll have to see if anyone he faces here is susceptible to letting that happen.

The Return of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Volkanovski vs Team Ortega starts this Tuesday, June 1st, starting at 9:00pm. Episodes will be streaming exclusively on ESPN+.

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About the author
Victor Rodriguez
Victor Rodriguez

Victor Rodriguez has been a writer and podcaster for Bloody Elbow since 2015. He started his way as a lowly commenter and moderator to become the miscreant he is now. He often does weekly bits on fringe martial arts items across the globe, oddball street combat pieces, previews, analysis, and some behind-the-scenes support. He has trained in wrestling, Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the occasional Muay Thai and Judo lesson here and there. Victor has also been involved with acting and audio editing projects. He lives in Pennsylvania where he plays way too many video games and is an S-rank dad.

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