Inside Fights First Look: The Ultimate Fighter 5, Part Two

Click here if you misssed Part One yesterday.

Brandon “The Murderer” Melendez
Age: 23
MMA Record: 11 – 5
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Trains in: Salt Lake City, UT – Elite Performance with Jeremy Horn

At the age of eighteen, Brandon Melendez started grappling at the behest of a member of a gym he was working out at. Soon thereafter, he entered an eight man grappling tournament and made it to the finals with no formal jiu jitsu training at all. From then on, Brandon dedicated himself to mixed martial arts, joining the Elite Performance team in Salt Lake City. In Utah, a local station televises his fights, and one of the announcers dubbed him “The Murderer”. While unsettling to his grandmother, the nickname has stuck, and Brandon is looking to slay the competition on The Ultimate Fighter 5.

When not training, Brandon spends time with his wife Monika, and their children, daughter Alycia and son Malakhai. He enjoys rebuilding muscle cars, and is setting aside the 1971 GMC he is working on to train in Las Vegas with the coaches and other competitors.

Cole “Magrinho” Miller
Age: 22
MMA Record: 19 – 3
Hometown: Macon, GA
Trains in: Coconut Creek, FL – American Top Team

A fan of mixed martial arts since attending his first UFC bout in 1993 at the age of nine, Cole did not start training until a decade later. In the time between, Cole was one of the top high school baseball players in the country at Mt. De Sales Academy. After graduating in 2002, Cole went to Mercer University to play outfield for their baseball team, which boasts John Rocker as an alumnus.

Cole discovered MMA in college and has been training ever since, giving up baseball and relocating to Coconut Creek, Florida to train with the American Top Team. Because of his slender frame, his teammates have dubbed him “Magrinho,” which is Portuguese for “skinny.” Cole still has a soft spot in his heart for the Atlanta Braves, but hasn’t had much time for anything except training since taking up MMA in his stated goal to become the best lightweight fighter in the world. In his few moments of free time, Cole can be found at the beach, listening to Bright Eyes, Green Day, Eminem, mXPX, and Slick Shoes. He considers The Ultimate Fighter 5 to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and plans to make the most of his experience training with the coaches and other fighters.

Gabe “Godzilla” Ruediger
Age: 29
MMA Record: 10- 3
Hometown: Grass Valley, CA
Trains in: Ranch Cucumonga, CA – Team Quest South

Growing up in a small town between Tahoe and Sacramento, Gabe Ruediger took up Aikido karate at the age of 7, and kung fu shortly after that. A current brown belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, his training was a constant throughout his years at Nevada Union High School where he graduated in 1995. He continued training overseas while competing over the past ten years.

Gabe’s nickname was given to him while in Japan, the dragon tattoo on his arm inspiring some of the locals to call him Godzilla while he was training. When he moved back to the U.S, Gabe joined Team Quest South under Dave Henderson’s instruction, while working as a marketing consultant during the day. An avid reader, Gabe is dreading being locked in a house for six weeks without books, and lists Perfume by Patrick Süskind and Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts as his favorites. He plans on fighting until the day he no longer enjoys mixed martial arts, and would like to go to law school some time down the road. In competing on The Ultimate Fighter 5, “Godzilla” is hoping to improve all aspects of his game, and to convert his father into an MMA fan by winning the contract that is up for grabs.

“Mr. Indestructible” Marlon Sims
Age: 33
MMA Record: 3- 1
Hometown: Sonoma, CA
Trains in: Miami, FL – Freestyle Fighting Academy

Since the age of four, Marlon Sims has wanted to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Growing up, Marlon was constantly training. He took up Kempo and Sambo, achieving black belts in both. Before graduating from Sonoma Valley High in 1992, he was a two-time state champion in Greco Roman wrestling, and was regularly scouted by Stanford’s tennis coaches during the spring athletic season. He opted to train in mixed martial arts, instead, dabbling in jiu jitsu briefly before injuries caused him to focus on muy thai.

Living in the Bay Area, Marlon trained during the day and worked as a waiter captain at the famous Le Colonial night. He worked out with Frank Shamrock in the Napa chapter of The Lion’s Den, but relocated to Miami where he lives with his girlfriend, a future anesthesiologist, and trains with the Freestyle Fighting Academy.

When not training, Marlon is a huge fan of martial arts films starring Tony Jai, Bruce Lee, and Jet Li. Musically, Marlon’s tastes range from classical music to Johnny Cash to Lyrics Born to Pantera. Despite moving to Miami, Marlon still follows the 49ers and Oakland A’s closely, and says Roger Federer and Mirko Cro Cop are heroes of his because of the dominance they display in their fields.

Marlon earned his nickname for his renowned fighting prowess on the streets of San Francisco, breaking up many brawls with nary a scratch to show for it. Sims says the title is apt, but for different reasons – he once was hit by a car and thrown through its windshield, and walked out of the hospital four hours later with only a tooth missing.

While on The Ultimate Fighter 5, “Mr. Indestructible” hopes to live up to his namesake while working on his jiu jitsu and striking ability with the coaches and other competitors.

Noah “The Red” Thomas
Age: 25
MMA Record: 10 – 4
Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO
Trains in: Loveland, CO – Infinity Martial Arts

A 1999 graduate of Wasson High School where he was a standout wrestler, Noah attended Colorado State University at Ft. Collins, majoring in history. He left to join the United States Marines Corp, earning the rank of Sergeant after serving for six years in their sniper division and doing tours in Japan and Korea. When he returned to the U.S., Thomas was looking for a hobby and entered a No Holds Barred tournament.

Winning eight fights in one night, Noah decided to plug himself into the mixed martial arts scene. About a year ago he began training with Ryan Schulz, working on his wrestling and striking, and six months ago he linked up with a Gracie gym in Colorado, training under Adam Martinez. He has since received a blue belt in Brazliain jiu-jitsu from Royce Gracie, and began dating Michelle Mills, one of the top female fighters in the world. Nicknamed after a dog he knew that would often “see red,” Thomas says it is an appropriate moniker – he is very laid back until the Octagon door closes behind him. He is eager to hone his Brazilian jiu jitsu skills in his quest to become The Ultimate Fighter.

Noah hopes to keep the house loose during the six weeks with his spot on impressions, including imitations of Matt Serra and Ross Pointon. He’ll also be quoting movies a fair amount, listing Rounders, Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers among his favorites. When his MMA career is over, Noah would like to become a firefighter.

Andy Wang
Age: 29
MMA Record: 8 – 6
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Trains in: Los Angeles, CA

Born in Taipei, Andy was raised in Los Angeles by parents who operated a Chinese restaurant. He played football growing up, and landing him at the University of Hawaii, where he was a running back. After practices on the gridiron, Andy would train jiu-jitsu, in which he now holds a black belt. Still, he did not get into mixed martial arts until after his graduation in 2000. Looking for a new athletic challenge, his brother showed him a tape of old UFC fights, and Andy was intrigued by the body control necessary for the sport – it reminded him of the tai-chi his grandfather introduced to him as a youngster. He has been training ever since, even opening an MMA school in Taiwan in 2003.

When not training, Andy can be found putting his degree in history to work teaching high social studies and pursuing a master’s degree at Cal State Dominguez. He is hoping to break down ethnic stereotypes about Asian Americans while on the show, and would like to show other Asian Americans that athletics and academics are not mutually exclusive. Aside from that, he’d like to realize his dream of becoming The Ultimate Fighter for his parents – Andy says he’d like them to see his dream come true since they sacrificed theirs to come to this country.

Wayne Weems
Age: 24
MMA Record: 16 – 2
Hometown: Moline, IL
Trains in: Moline, IL – Team Miletich

The 24 year-old Wayne has had a long, hard road to get to The Ultimate Fighter 5. After bouncing between his parents’ custody and foster homes growing up, Wayne’s cousin Greg took him in as a teenager. Greg introduced Wayne to wrestling when he was in the 8th grade, and he flourished, going on to wrestle at Moline High School, where he won 3rd place in the state of Illinois before graduating in 2001. Wayne continued his education at Ellesworth Junior College where he received an associate’s degree in art.

When Wayne was 21 years old, he entered in a local MMA show and surprisingly won his match despite being a novice. To further his skills for his new-found passion, he began training with Team Miletich – the same camp as Season 5 coach Jens Pulver. When the show is finished taping, Wayne is looking forward to getting back to his family, as well as listening to 50 Cent, Kid Rock, Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, Hank Williams, and Vanilla Ice out of his car windows en route to wrestling practice.

“Handsome” Matt Wiman
Age: 23
MMA Record: 6 -3
Hometown: Tulsa, OK
Trains in: Tulsa, OK – Tulsa Top Team

Matt Wiman’s mom called him “Handsome” at a young age and the nickname has stuck ever since. A Tulsa native, Wiman graduated from Broken Arrow High School in 2002 and saw an advertisement for an eight man mixed martial arts tournament being held locally when he was nineteen years old. Matt entered, and upon winning, decided he would try and make a living as a fighter. He began training independently before joining Tulsa Top Team last year. He made his UFC debut in 2006, losing to Spencer Fisher at UFC 60 last May.

Matt is hoping to wash the taste of that defeat from his mouth by tightening up his all around game while training in Las Vegas on his quest to become The Ultimate Fighter. Matt leaves behind his girlfriend of one year in Tulsa to participate in the show.

Sir Linksalot: The Ultimate Fighter


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