TUF 31 Ep.1 Recap: Prospects vs. Veterans; Conor McGregor Absent From the First Weigh-In; One of the Fastest TUF Knockouts

Published 05/31/2023, 6:17 AM EDT

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The long-awaited moment has finally arrived as ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ Season 31 kicks off with its debut episode on Tuesday, airing exclusively on ESPN. The anticipation for this season has been unparalleled, and there are countless reasons why. Firstly, it marks the long-awaited return of the one and only Conor McGregor in action, following his devastating leg injury. This will be his second time coaching on the show, the first being back in 2015.

Additionally, McGregor’s opposition coach in TUF 31 is none other than Michael Chandler, with whom he is rumored to face off in the octagon by the end of this year. The clash between these two incredible fighters, both as coaches and potentially as opponents, adds an extra layer of intrigue and anticipation to the season. Already, the first episode has hit the airwaves, launching the season in true style.

Prospects for McGregor; Veterans for Chandler


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With the UFC president Dana White kicking off the show at the UFC APEX facility in Las Vegas, the excitement soared as the winning coach had the opportunity to handpick their entire team instead of nitpicking one player at a time. In a stroke of good fortune, ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor emerged triumphant in the toss and wasted no time in making his selections. McGregor’s astute decision-making led him to choose the 155-pound prospects, leaving the lightweight veterans to his counterpart, Michael Chandler.

The stage was set, and the teams were as follows:


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Team McGregor:

Bantamweight (135 lbs.):

  • Mando Gutierrez (No. 1)
  • Trevor Wells (No. 2)
  • Carlos Vera (No. 3)
  • Rico DiSciullo (No. 4)

Lightweight (155 lbs.):

  • Lee Hammond (No. 1)
  • Nate Jennerman (No. 2)
  • Aaron McKenzie (No. 3)
  • Landon Quinones Stewart (No. 4)

Watch: $200 Million Man Conor McGregor Gives Wads of Cash to a Kid on TUF 31 Just to Buy His Action Figure

On the other side, Team Chandler has:

Bantamweight (135 lbs.):

  • Hunter Azure (No. 1)
  • Brad Katona (No. 2)
  • Timur Valiev (No. 3)
  • Cody Gibson (No. 4)

Lightweight (155 lbs.):

  • Jason Knight (No. 1)
  • Austin Hubbard (No. 2)
  • Roosevelt Roberts (No. 3)
  • Kurt Holobaugh (No. 4)

Conor McGregor was no-show for the first weigh-ins

In a surprising twist, the all-fired-up Conor McGregor was noticeably absent from the season’s inaugural weigh-in, which featured a face-off between Roosevelt Roberts and Nate Jennerman. Seizing the opportunity to take a swipe at the Irishman, McGregor’s opposition coach, Michael Chandler, didn’t hold back his thoughts.

Expressing his bewilderment, Chandler remarked, “I don’t know where Conor is. To me, the first weigh-in seemed like it was pretty important. I don’t know what kind of message it sends to your team if you don’t show up to weigh-ins.” His words carried a hint of sarcasm and served as a subtle way to poke fun at McGregor’s absence.

Team McGregor’s first loss came within a matter of seconds

The commencement of TUF 31 kicked off in spectacular fashion as the seasoned fighter from Team Chandler, Roosevelt Roberts, stepped into the cage to face off against the promising prospect from Team McGregor, Nate Jennerman, in the first bout of the show. Right from the start, Roosevelt Roberts wasted no time asserting his dominance. With lightning speed, he unleashed a powerful one-two combo, catching Jennerman off guard. Unrelenting in his pursuit, Roberts swiftly launched a straight right hand that found its mark, sending Jennerman crashing to the canvas.

In a matter of mere 10 seconds of the opening round, Roberts pounced on his fallen opponent, delivering two crushing blows that left the referee with no choice but to intervene and halt the contest.


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As the cameras turned to Conor McGregor, the disappointment on his face was evident. The upset defeat in the season’s first bout was certainly not the start Team McGregor had envisioned. Although Team McGregor began their TUF 31 journey with an unexpected setback, they understand that the season is a long way from over.


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What are your thoughts on the first episode of TUF 31? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by:

Mayur Soni


One take at a time

Mayur Soni is a UFC writer at EssentiallySports. His journey as an MMA fan started with Conor McGregor’s historic 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo in 2015, which sparked his love for the sport. Since then, he has closely followed the sport and gained an in-depth understanding of its nuances, which reflects in his insightful and analytical writing.
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Edited by:

Rohini Kottu