The Ultimate Fighter Season 5 Recap: Team Penn vs. Team Pulver

Brief Synopsis:

The Ultimate Fighter 5 was the fifth season of the Ultimate Fighting Championship produced reality television series The Ultimate Fighter. As with the show’s usual format, sixteen prospective mixed martial arts fighters were secluded in a house near Las Vegas, Nevada and trained together while participating in a single-elimination tournament, with the winner being awarded a six-figure UFC contract. This season featured only one weight class, Lightweights (146-155 lbs), and the fighters were divided into two teams; one coached by former UFC Lightweight Champion Jens Pulver, and the other by former UFC Welterweight Champion and Lightweight contender BJ Penn.

The two coaches, along with the finalists of the tournament, fought at The Ultimate Finale, a televised MMA fight card that aired live at the completion of the series.

The series premiered on April 5, 2007 on Spike TV in the United States and Canada at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT and concluded on June 23. Filming began in mid-January 2007.

Coaches and Trainers:

-> Team Penn
BJ Penn, head coach
Rudolph Valentino, kickboxing instructor
Tony DeSouza, wrestling instructor
Reagan Penn, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor
Randy Couture, guest trainer

-> Team Pulver
Jens Pulver, head coach
Matt Pena, boxing instructor
Taisei Kikuchi, submissions instructor
Kirk White, wrestling instructor
Jeremy Horn, guest trainer
Matt Hughes, guest trainer
Karo Parisyan, guest trainer

Fighters (as originally assigned):

-> Team Penn
Gray Maynard, Matt Wiman, Gabe Ruediger, Joe Lauzon, Rob Emerson, Andy Wang, Allen Berube, Noah Thomas

-> Team Pulver
Corey Hill, Nate Diaz, Brandon Melendez, Marlon Sims, Manny Gamburyan, Cole Miller, Brian Geraghty, Wayne Weems


Dana White (Host)
Mike Rowe (Narrator)


Episode 1: It’s Like Anarchy Here

  • The team selection process nearly goes awry when Penn asks the fighters to raise their hands if they want to join his team and want nothing to do with Team Pulver, and ten of the sixteen fighters do. Dana White insists the coaches still pick the teams one-by-one.
  • Gabe Ruediger (Team Penn) enters the series around 20 pounds overweight and frets over his inability to lose weight.
  • In the first fight of the season, Cole Miller (Team Pulver) defeated Allen Berube (Team Penn) by submission due to a triangle choke at 2:33 of the first round.

Episode 2: Not in this House

  • Allen Berube returns to the house and announces he will stay in the house and continue to train so he can act as a substitute should someone become injured. (All subsequent eliminated fighters also remain at the house.)
  • Team Penn members Matt Wiman and Gabe Ruediger repeatedly butt heads after Ruediger taunts Wiman because of an unexplained personal dislike of him. Their verbal sparring impacts the team as time from training was dedicated to quelling the feud.
  • Penn tries to influence Pulver’s fight selection by having Rob Emerson goad Corey Hill into fighting him, a matchup he prefers. Pulver picks Manvel Gamburyan (Team Pulver) to fight Noah Thomas (Team Penn) instead.
  • Members of Team Penn write a number of benign messages on the house wall (“Team Penn supports our troops”) with a marker. Emerson then writes the words “Suck it Team Pulver” on the game room wall, ostensibly as a joke, but Team Pulver members Nate Diaz and Gamburyan take offense and confront Team Penn about the markings. Gamburyan was looking to fight about it, then threatens to leave the house before his teammate Corey Hill calms him down.
  • Gamburyan defeats Thomas via kimura lock submission in round one. Gamburyan was the main aggressor, with Thomas often defending against his opponent’s attempts to drop him to the ground.

Episode 3: This is My Zone

  • Penn calls Ruediger out in front of the entire team, saying that he does not think Ruediger is taking the training as seriously as he should.
  • Jeremy Horn is brought in as Team Pulver’s special guest coach. Horn is especially impressed with Corey Hill, who admitted he did not train regularly at a gym.
  • Gabe Ruediger undergoes a “colonic” in an effort to make weight. His teammate however were unimpressed; calling it an easy way out of his problem and accusing him of caring more about the procedure than training.
  • Noah Thomas and Rob Emerson (both Team Penn) run around the house in thongs, upsetting Nate Diaz (Team Pulver). Diaz decides that he now wants to fight Emerson. At the fight announcement, Pulver picks Diaz and Diaz then selects Emerson.
  • Diaz (Team Pulver) defeats Emerson (Team Penn) via rear naked choke submission in round two. The first round was mainly an aggressive striking game by both sides, and the second round was characterized by Diaz’s aggression and successful ground game. Dana White tells both fighters that the fight was one of the best in the history of the series.

Episode 4: Waah, Waah!

  • Wayne Weems is shown to be lagging behind the rest of Team Pulver.
  • During training, Gabe Ruediger lobbies Penn about fighting Weems because Weems is the obvious weak link. However, this irritates some other members of Team Penn, especially Emerson, who confronts Ruediger about it.
  • Pulver brings in Matt Hughes as a special guest coach for Team Pulver.
  • At the fight announcement, Brandon Melendez (Team Pulver) selects Andy Wang (Team Penn). Melendez defeats Wang via unanimous decision. Despite the pregame plan for Wang to use his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills to his advantage and to take down his opponent, Wang stays on his feet to strike and is dominated. Wang cries after the match for letting down his teammates, but Penn shows no sympathy for Wang, who ignored his instructions during the match.

Episode 5: Put me Back In

  • Corey Hill (Team Pulver) picks Gabe Ruediger for the next fight.
  • Ruediger, who was now at 173.5 lb, continues to take weight cutting lightly and shows little effort, despite the urgings of his coaches and teammates. When Ruediger is sent to the sauna by his coaches, he passes out at 159.4 lb (three pounds over the limit of 156 lb); the cut drained him so much that he was sent to a hospital to get fluids via an IV. The match was called, and when Ruediger returns to the house, he becomes a pariah.
  • Dana White, on hearing word of the cancelled fight, makes known his displeasure for fighters that cannot make weight and promptly expels Ruediger from the house. White also reinstates Emerson to replace Ruediger, and grants Team Pulver the chance to pick the next two fights to penalize Team Penn for not taking charge of Ruediger’s weight.
  • Team Pulver’s next two matches will be Brian Geraghty (Team Pulver) vs. Joe Lauzon (Team Penn) and Corey Hill (Team Pulver) vs. Rob Emerson (Team Penn).

Episode 6: All Your Might

  • At the Team Pulver session, Lauzon’s experience is emphasized – especially his knockout of Team Coach Jens Pulver at UFC 63. Pulver and Geraghty however brushed it off and “forgot” it ever happened.
  • In the first fight of the episode, Joe Lauzon defeats Brian Geraghty by submission (rear naked choke) at 1:13 of the first round.
  • In the second fight, Corey Hill defeats Rob Emerson by unanimous decision. The fight was scored a draw after two rounds. In the third “sudden victory” round, neither fighter dominates. Dana White says that while neither fighter was impressive during the round, he believes Emerson won. The judges disagreed and give a unanimous decision to Hill.
  • After the fight, Hill reveals to his team that this was his first professional fight; he only had two amateur fights before.

Episode 7: Be the General

  • White cautions Penn, saying he is losing control of his team. Penn decides to bring control back to the team, Penn decides to kick Andy Wang off his team, whom he said was insubordinate and constantly ignoring instructions.
  • Wang resists the expulsion, but his protests to the coaches are ignored. White is summoned, he decides no fighter can be teamless and approaches Pulver to see if Wang can join his team. Pulver consults with his team, and they approved of Wang joining them. Wang however, remains resistant, citing loyalty to Team Penn. When White makes it clear there he had no option, Wang reluctantly joins.
  • With Hill’s win, Team Pulver picks the next fight of the preliminary round – Wayne Weems (Team Pulver) vs. Gray Maynard (Team Penn). This leaves Marlon Simms (Team Pulver) vs. Matt Wiman (Team Penn) as the final preliminary round pairing.
  • In the first match, Maynard defeats Weems by TKO (punches) at 2:47 of the first round.
  • In the second match, Wiman defeats Simms by technical submission (rear naked choke) at 0:52 of the first round.

Episode 8: Not on the Concrete

  • Dana White, B.J. Penn and Jens Pulver meet to decide quarterfinal matchups to find the most interesting matchups and to advance the best fighters to the next round. The meeting however was not without problems as Penn and Pulver could not agree on pairings and nearly come to blows. White wants to match the best four fighters against the worst four, and picks Nate Diaz, Joe Lauzon, Matt Wiman and Gray Maynard as the best four fighters. White and Penn coincidentally draw up the same fights, but Pulver disagrees and says that Manvel Gamburyan should also be considered, and suggests Penn and White are colluding. White however denies it and implements his plan. The quarterfinal matchups are Joe Lauzon vs. Cole Miller, Gray Maynard vs. Brandon Melendez, Manvel Gamburyan vs. Matt Wiman, and Nate Diaz vs. Corey Hill.
  • After a night of heavy drinking, Marlon Sims and Noah Thomas got into argument and a fight in the backyard of the house, which ended with Sims slamming Thomas on his head on concrete. After the fight, the two call a truce and promise to settle the matter at the Finale. When White gets wind of the confrontation, he makes a personal visit to the house and lectures the cast about how he tried to change the image of the UFC from mindless brawling to legitimate athletic competition, and how this fight damages his efforts. He immediately expels both Sims and Thomas from the house, as well as Allen Berube, who instigated the match and told them they would not get kicked out for fighting.
  • Joe Lauzon defeats Cole Miller in the first quarterfinal match by TKO in the second round. Lauzon, when he had pinned Miller down in the second round, strikes Miller on the back of the head with an elbow and was assessed a point deduction. Miller is noticeably impaired after the strike, but continues the fight, eventually losing. White is convinced after talking with Lauzon that the strike was inadvertent and Lauzon regrets it. White also praises Miller’s dedication but strongly advises him against ever competing when dazed again, for his own safety.

Episode 9: It Was a Brawl

  • Brandon Melendez feels that Jens Pulver is overtraining him, and confronts Pulver about the issue. Melendez feels so strongly that he later approaches Pulver about training with Team Penn instead. After talking it over with Pulver, they resolve their issues and Melendez remains with Team Pulver.
  • Randy Couture is a guest coach for Team Penn, focusing on wrestling skills.
  • Cole Miller and Nate Diaz play pranks on one another while each sleeps. The pranks culminate in each fighter throwing the other’s mattress into the pool and Miller getting “antiqued” (getting covered in baby powder after being drenched in water).
  • Andy Wang becomes personally involved in helping Melendez make weight. Melendez does (barely) and expresses his gratitude for his help.
  • The second quarterfinal fight between Maynard and Melendez ended in the second round with Maynard winning by a guillotine choke.

Episode 10: Traitor

  • Karo Parisyan arrives at the house to practice with his cousin Manvel Gamburyan.
  • Nate Diaz submits Cory Hill in round 1 with a triangle choke.
  • Manvel Gamburyan wins by unanimous decision over Matt Wiman.

Episode 11: I Humbly Apologize

  • After Manvel Gamburyan’s fight, his cousin Karo Parisyan jokes around with Nate Diaz by getting him in a headlock. The two get into a verbal disagreement and almost come to blows before Jens Pulver and the rest of the team break up the confrontation.
  • In the first semifinal fight, Manvel Gamburyan defeated Joe Lauzon by unanimous decision after three rounds.

Episode 12: Gave a Hundred

  • The remaining fighters play a series of pranks on each other, engaging in a fruit war and shaving an inebriated Cole Miller’s head when he fell asleep in the bathroom.
  • Dana White pits the two team captains against each other in a ping-pong match with a ten-thousand dollar cash prize. Jens Pulver wins the best-of-three series, the cash, and a thousand dollar bonus for each member of his team.
  • In the second semifinal fight, Nate Diaz defeats Gray Maynard by submission (guillotine choke) in the second round.


  • Lightweight fight: Nate Diaz vs. Manvel Gamburyan. Diaz wins by injury (dislocated shoulder) at 0:20 of round two and becomes the Season 5 TUF Lightweight Champion.

Disclaimer: All season recaps of The Ultimate Fighter are re-formatted copies of content from Wikipedia.

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