Fighters who qualify for “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show typically view it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to earn an Ultimate Fighting Championship contract.
Myles Jury is getting a second chance at his dream.
The unbeaten 23-year-old from Detroit thought he was on the verge of truly making it in MMA when he arrived in Las Vegas to compete on Season 13 of the show in January 2011. That experience quickly became a nightmare when Jury tore his anterior cruciate ligament on the first day of filming and was sent home.
“It was emotional because, one, I had never been injured like that in my entire life and, two, the timing of the injury was just so bad,” Jury said.
Just more than a year later, he has returned to exactly where he was when the injury happened. Jury was named to the cast of Season 15 of the show, which is airing live for the first time in series history in the program’s first year on FX (Cable 24). He won his first fight, which determined which 16 fighters would move into the Las Vegas house for 13 weeks and compete for the coveted six-figure contract.
“I just knew an injury like that was never going to stop me. It was just going to take a little bit longer to get here than I expected,” Jury said. “I was just going to fight and work my way to the UFC no matter how I could. Luckily, it all kind of worked out for me.”
Jury scored a decision over Akbarh Jimenez on the live premiere Friday. He said being essentially isolated from the outside world for the next 13 weeks wouldn’t be ideal for anyone, but he sees it as a means to an end he’s been working toward since he started training.
“I just try not to think about all that stuff. Time will tell, I guess, but I think I’m going to be fine because I kind of live that fighter lifestyle as it is. I just train and then kind of hang out anyway,” Jury said. “It’s pretty much the same thing except I don’t have my phone, which is fine. Less distractions from what I’m trying to accomplish, which I’d say is better anyway.”
Jury lives and trains in San Diego with one of the season’s coaches, bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. It would be quite a shock, or an intentional ploy by rival coach Urijah Faber, if Jury doesn’t end up on Cruz’s team.
■ FABER EXCITED FOR SPOTLIGHT — Faber has been viewed as the face of the lower weight classes since the days when the UFC didn’t include bantamweights and featherweights, and those fighters were relegated to World Extreme Cagefighting.
The profile has increased since the 135- and 145-pound classes (and now 125-pound flyweight division) have been added to the UFC, but the lighter fighters still have struggled to gain the same recognition enjoyed by the big guys.
Faber said he thinks starring opposite his rival, Cruz, as coaches of this season of “TUF” is a big step for the little guys.
“It’s not that people don’t enjoy the fights, it’s just that they haven’t been exposed to them all that much,” Faber said. “It’s just a matter of putting it in front of them. Now we’re getting that exposure, and it’s super important.”
Faber says the next step is taking the title from Cruz.
“Either of us are good for the sport, but I think me being champion would be better for the weight class,” he said. “I’m not trying to be arrogant or anything, just honest. I carry more clout. I want to win for myself and my family, but I think it would be good for the weight class also.”
Faber and Cruz will clash after they have completed their coaching stints on the show.
■ MMA APPROVED IN WYOMING — Gov. Matt Mead signed into a law Thursday a bill officially sanctioning MMA events in Wyoming.
The state, which does not regulate boxing, will have the nation’s first MMA-only commission. The commission will be appointed July 1 when the law goes into effect.
The move leaves New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Montana and Alaska as holdouts in sanctioning the sport.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509.