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'In the house'

LOS ANGELES — With a live crowd and a taped show at an energetic Capitol City Bar in Los Angeles, Sako Chivichyan and Sevak Magakian knew all the results before they aired for all the world to see.

That certainly didn't prevent any nerves, though, as the aspiring Glendale mixed-martial-arts fighters looked on along with a gathering of friends, family and media late Wednesday night as the season premiere of "The Ultimate Fighter: Season 12" aired on Spike TV.

"I'm very nervous," said the 26-year-old Chivichyan in the hours leading up to the show. "I've got butterflies like I'm gonna be going in there to fight.

"I'm just hoping [the Spike TV editors and producers] represent me the right way. Hopefully I didn't embarrass myself too much."

Not long after, the world learned what Magakian and Chivichyan already knew, that the Jewel City tandem won their respective fights as the "TUF" field was whittled down from 28 fighters to 14 on the first episode, as has become a tradition in seasons as of late, where the fighters must win to earn their way into "The Ultimate Fighter" house in Las Vegas, where the majority of the six-week reality show is filmed.

"As long as I got my win, that's all I cared about," said Chivichyan (5-0), who defeated Toby Grear (7-4-1) via decision on the first episode. "The one thing on my mind was to get that win and get in the house."

Magakian (8-3) likewise earned a decision victory, defeating JJ Ambrose (12-2) in his exhibition bout.

Leading into the show's airing, Magakian was also concerned with just how everything would come to be on the reality show.

"Crazy's OK, but not stupid," joked Magakian of how he was hoping to come off. "I can't wait to see what they make me [look like] for the whole show."

Both of the fighter's bouts were heavily edited down to brief highlights, though full bouts were available after the episode on ufc.com. The entire season aside from the live December finale wrapped taping approximately two months ago, but all involved are bound to secrecy by their contracts.

"Sako Chivichyan against Toby Greer was pretty much a grappling match," said Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champion George St. Pierre, one of the show's coaches opposite Josh Koscheck, during the bout's highlight package. "Sako most of the time managed to use his judo superior skill to bring the fight on the ground and stay on top for most of the fight."

Chivichyan's fight was the sixth of the night and, as is customary, was followed by an interview with the winning fighter.

"Man this is the greatest day of my life," he said during the broadcast, "you can never know how great it feels, there's no words to say it, you have to get in here to know how it feels."

But as he uttered those lines, three shots were mixed in of Chivichyan throwing up in a bush after his fight.

The scene was met with a roar of laughter from those at Capitol City and taken in stride by Chivichyan.

"I loved everything, even though they put in the part where I threw up," Chivichyan said. "It happened, I'm not embarrassed, as long as I got my win."

Magakian's win was shown as the 12th of 14 fights and followed by commentary from Koscheck.

"Sevak relied on his wrestling," said Koscheck, who had previously stated that he thought Ambrose was going to win the fight with a kimura armlock that Magakian worked his way free from. "I think he's a better fighter than what he showed and JJ just made a lot of mistakes."

Added UFC President Dana White during the broadcast: "Both rounds went the same way with Sevak just basically on top of him and controlling the fight."

In his postfight interview on the show, Magakian was abrupt and to the point.

"I trained hard for this fight and I made it man," he said. "I'm just gonna win."

It wasn't the last of Magakian on the show, though, as a reel of season highlights and teasers ran to end the program, with Magakian showing his fiery side as he screamed at cast member Andrew "Bruce Leroy" Caceres before going after Caceres and squaring up.

"It was crazy," Magakian, 25, said. "I was crazy."

Oohs, aahs and some chuckles lit up Capitol City during the highlight, as Magakian and Chivichyan have long teased that the show would have everybody talking about "those crazy Armenians."

The next episode, which airs Wednesday on Spike TV as all of the show's first runs do, is set to feature the fighters picked by St. Pierre and Koscheck for teams and the season's first bout in the round of 14.

Wednesday was Magakian and Chivichyan's debut in the limelight and under the spotlight that is reality TV and "The Ultimate Fighter" and, on top of that, both were pleased with the local gathering of roughly 100 or more that included fellow fighters such as Manny Gamburyan, Karen Darabedyan, Roman Mitichyan, Georgi Karakhanyan and even Grear, Chivichyan's opponent on the show.

"All our friends," Magakian said, "all our family here to support us, you couldn't ask for more."

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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