The road to The Ultimate Fighter
Efrain Escudero entered “The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale” an underdog to Phillipe Nover, who at the time was being dubbed as “The Next Anderson Silva.” But Escudero was not intimidated by his overhyped foe that night in Las Vegas. Months in the Ultimate Fighter house had prepared him for the opportunity set before him.
Prior to arriving on the show, Escudero compiled a perfect 12-0 record. He began his career in 2006 with a submission victory at “Rage in the Cage 83” and followed the victory with a unanimous decision win at the following “Rage in the Cage” event. Off to a 2-0 start as a professional, Escudero won his next four fights, all with the same promotion, via submission with no fight going into the third round.
Escudero left “Rage in the Cage” with a perfect 6-0 record, making the move to small time promotion “Cage Supremacy” where he immediately made his presence felt. In his debut with the promotion, he submitted TJ Zasa in the second round and followed the victory with another submission against Jon Keck in the first round. Escudero then made the move back to “Rage in the Cage” with another submission victory and then moved to “Full Moon Fighting,” where he debuted yet again with a victory via submission.
At a perfect 10-0, Escudero was ready to test himself at the next level, which led him to try out for the extremely popular reality fighter series, “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Escudero fought his way into the house with a submission victory over Ido Pariente in the elimination round. In the quarter-finals, Escudero faced Shane Nelson, who became the second victim of Escudero’s submission game on the show. The proud Mexican fighter then moved to the semi-finals where he was matched up against resident bad-boy Junie Browning. A second round submission granted Escudero the victory and the chance to compete in the series finale opposite the most dominant fighter in the house, Phillipe Nover.
Escudero put on an impressive performance against the man thought to be his better, outperforming Nover from the opening bell. The unanimous decision victory earned Escudero a six-figure contract with the UFC and the title of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
From the TUF house to the lightweight division
But Escudero was not ready to stop there. Entering the lightweight division for the first time since defeating Nover, “Hecho en Mexico” faced off against American Top Team’s Cole Miller. In the opening round, Escudero caught Miller with a powerful shot that stunned him, allowing Escudero to move in for a swift technical knockout victory. The performance displayed the improvements Escudero made in his striking game, making him appear to be one of the more well-rounded prospects on the rise in the 155-pound division.
However, Evan Dunham was prepared to slow the roll of the dynamic lightweight when the two met at “UFC Fight Night 20.” After much success early in the striking, Escudero seemed to be running away with the fight. But a third round grappling match triggered his demise, as Dunham latched on a deep armbar submission. Escudero frantically tried to work his way out, while dealing with the immense pain on his arm, but was forced to submit.
Escudero now prepares to rebound from his first professional loss at UFC 114 against Dan “The Upgrade” Lauzon on the preliminary card. Lauzon has had much success throughout his young martial arts career, holding a record of 12-3, but this fight is very different for the New Jersey native. Due to his not living up to an ultimatum set forth by his camp, Lauzon will enter the fight without his usual cornermen, including his brother Joe, who have decided that he needs to learn the value of work ethic before wasting their time.
The dramatic elements surrounding Lauzon as he enters this fight grants Escudero a perfect opportunity to defeat a man who may be unfocused due to his current condition. Both men are coming off losses, but Escudero has avoided any drama similar to Lauzon and is looking to expose “The Upgrade” come Saturday night.
A victory for Escudero would once again put him on the path to the top of the UFC lightweight division. After a successful stint on “The Ultimate Fighter,” “Hecho en Mexico” has the opportunity to showcase his ever-improving abilities against Dan Lauzon at UFC 114 and prove that this reality show winner could actual become a serious threat at the 155-pound mark.