The Ultimate Fighter 18: Team Rousey v. Team Tate – Week 7 Recap

Pranks and shenanigans were not only the norm in previous seasons, they often were the basis of many episodes and feuds.  No matter how vulgar, no matter how personal the digs, it was always expected to be settled either in the cage or with an equally juvenile retort.  This year, Dana White is doing everything in his power to make sure that the pranks don’t go too far.  You can say he’s preserving the integrity of mixed martial arts or combating the stereotype that his athletes are overgrown frat boys, but I see it for what it is: Women be crazy and even he knows that the most minor slight could escalate into a full blown war.

Team Colours:

Team Rousey
Team Tate

Yo, Jessamyn Duke is f**ed up!

She still kinda hot though.

Duke and Raquel Pennington put on a hell of a fight last week and everyone is happy to have been a part of it.  White gives Pennington a pep talk telling her that with her punching power she could win the whole show.  Julianna Peña is listening from behind the bleachers watching them from the van and she gets all jelly.  How dare he become invested in more than one contestant?  Like, OMFG.

It’s Father’s Day and Ronda Rousey shows up at the house with gifts, including a shaving kit for Cody Bollinger, who isn’t even on her team.  This should go a long way rehabilitating the poor image she’s constructed for herself on the show, though she does snub Plato and that’s just wrong.

Playing hard to get, I see…

A clean shaven Bollinger has an emotional moment, recounting the struggles and what he’s fighting for and how much he misses his kids and…you know what, it’s getting dusty in here.  Can you help us out, Ronda?

Okay, I’ll admit it: That’s adorable.

Moving on to one of this week’s competitors, we discover that Josh Hill got his nickname from his granduncle, “Gentleman” Jerry Valiant, who along with Johnny Valiant held the then WWWF (now the WWE) tag team titles for 370 days.  This is not to be confused with the current WWE tag team titles, which were created in 2002.  You know, in case you were wondering.

Hill has got to be winning over the female fans with his tales of male modeling and humble attitude.  I’ll just say it: he and Duke would make beautiful babies together.  He came into the competition with no amateur fights and he’s gone undefeated as a pro.  His segment ends with a shout-out to Hamilton, Ontario, so what’s not to like?

For one thing, both he and Michael Wootten were criticized for playing it safe in their elimination fights and doing just enough to get into the house.  You wouldn’t be blamed for forgetting that Wootten exists since he’s barely been featured on the show.  He’s the other British guy.

We’ll get back to Wootten later.  First, there’s a silly prank and the incredibly awkward analogy that follows it.  Miesha Tate and her team were watching DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story and the character of Fran (Missi Pyle) immediately made them consider a possible Ronda Rousey/Edmond Tarverdyan love child.  They put up pictures of Fran all over the gym and White is forced to go and take them all down.

There’s no way Dana went to get this one.

Anthony Gutierrez finds one in the sauna and I’m sure the producers were dreadfully upset that it made its way to Team Rousey.  It’s bad enough that Tarverdyan goes off to sulk, but Rousey loses her damn mind and deems the prank to be racist.  The absurdity reaches new heights as she reaches for an analogy to slam Tate and promptly embarrasses herself.  Poor Chris Beal is caught up in the crossfire when Rousey says the posters are akin to comparing Beal to Ashy Larry.

The f**k did you just say?

My two cents?  It’s not racist and Tarverdyan just has terrible eyebrows.

Thankfully, Rousey redeems herself with her unique ground training.  This particular session is dedicated to “scrunchies”, which involves moving on the ground while keeping your arms and legs free to defend against attacks.  It requires serious core strength and Rousey makes it look easy even as her charges struggle to keep up with her.  I’m fairly certain that she does these things just to provide more animated gif and sex joke material for the internet.  If that’s the case, mission accomplished.  Rousey is making a comeback this week.

Her fighter, Wootten, finally gets his TV time and he makes the most of it with some solid quotes.  He calls Rousey a “judo wizard or wizard-ess” and explains how he made it to where he is today.

Wootten: I got into MMA just by choice and then, you know, the next thing it spirals out of control and you’re on “The Ultimate Fighter”.

Oh yeah, we’ve all been there, buddy.  Rousey thinks Wootten is a cutey pie.  She actually blushes when she’s talking about him, which is unnerving.  Later, we get an artsy shot of Wootten being bothered by a fly as he’s sweating off some pounds.

Now he knows how Walter White feels.

Predictably, Wootten and his fellow Brit David Grant are friends from before the show.  That almost seems like an unfair advantage, doesn’t it?  They should make camp teammates fight each other in the elimination round.  Not only would it guarantee that there’s none of this despicable collusion, but I’d thoroughly enjoy two close friends fighting to crush the other man’s dream because I’m sick like that.

Wootten is a big 135er, though someone remarks that he looks emaciated at the weigh-in.  He’s 5’10”, the same height as Georges St-Pierre and Daniel Cormier.  That’s 4 inches taller than Hill.  He needs a towel to step on the scale and we have our first nude of the season.  Considering the circumstances, that is extremely disappointing.  The towel is allowed to drop, much to the amusement of everyone in the gym.  Wootten is quick to add that Rousey just saw his “weight cut penis”, which I imagine is not unlike a frightened turtle.

The fight

In case you didn’t know, Hill is a wrestler.  He goes for a takedown right off the bat and White can’t be happy.  Seeing Wootten get picked up and walked over to Hill’s corner for a big slam might change his mind.  As advertised, Hill’s top game is highly effective and he advances nicely.  Wootten is calm, avoiding any significant damage and fighting out of a choke attempt.  He can’t shake Hill.  Say what you want about wrestling, but the Canadian dominates and takes the first round 10-9.

Tarverdyan tells Wootten that the last 10 seconds were good.  That’s what we call emphasizing the positives.  It must have worked, because Wootten looks sharp to start the second.  Hill telegraphs a takedown and eats a knee.  Wootten dives on top of him and does a lot of damage working from guard and half guard.  This is a reverse of the first round as Wootten is in complete control.  This is definitely getting another five minutes.  Even Brittney Palmer knows it and White has to stop her from grabbing the final round card prematurely.

In the extra frame, the first takedown could be the difference.  Hill drives hard and gets snuffed.  Wootten fights off of the cage and somehow pulls Hill down.  The cameras can’t get a great view, but it looks like Hill is getting away with some blatant fence grabbing.  He’s clearly gassed and as the round winds down, he’s behind on the scorecards.

Knowing he has to land something big, Hill ends up giving us a new candidate for worst spinning back fist!  He whiffs badly and gets planted right on his butt with a double leg.  That seals the victory for Wootten, who gets the decision and a kiss from Ronda!

On a personal note, I’m sad to see that Canada is 0-2 so far.  For a lot of fighters, this show is where they take their first career loss and even though it doesn’t count on their professional records, it has to come as somewhat of a shock to the system.  Not only that, you’re surrounded by cameras that are there to record your every action and reaction.  Even losers on PPV get to retreat to the locker room.  Fall short on The Ultimate Fighter and you immediately have to answer to a million people.

Then again, win and who knows what could happen.

Worth it!

Next week: It’s a “recap” show, so I should be taking a break from the write-ups next week.  This will give me time to work on the script for my Chris Holdsworth/Bryan Caraway pilot.

In two weeks: Sarah Moras v. Peggy Morgan and Cody Bollinger v. Anthony Gutierrez.

The Ultimate Fighter 18: Team Rousey v. Team Tate – Week 6 Recap

The male cast has been a pleasant surprise.  After the first episode, I assumed they’d be pushed to the side in favour of the females to make the most of a fresh idea.  But Louis Fisette, Anthony Gutierrez and, of course, Chris Holdsworth have made the most of this opportunity and for better or for worse have established identities that the fans can latch on to.  Whenever these guys get their shot in the UFC, we’ll already have an idea of who they are and that can only help their careers.

As good as the men have been, the women have been spectacular.  Not only have all the fights been good, but their personalities have shined to the point that I can throw out vague descriptors and you’ll probably know who I’m talking about: The nerdy one.  The fashionista.  The grizzled veteran.  The mother.  That’s not to say that they’re one-dimensional, rather that they have hooks that draw you in and allow for further embellishment.

Am I the only one who has been pondering how an all-female show would have looked?  At the very least, I’m confident that such a format would be embraced in the future.  You go girls.

Team Colours:

Team Rousey
Team Tate

In a quirky twist of fate, Jessamyn Duke finds herself facing off with a woman she was supposed to fight in her pro debut, Raquel Pennington.  This week’s fight essentially hypes itself, so that gives us time for more important matters.

MAKEOVER MAKEOVER MAKEOVER

Julianna Peña is bored and that means it’s time for a makeup and wardrobe overhaul!  The “dolling up” of Pennington contrasts nicely with her background.  Interspersed with shots of Peña applying eye liner is Pennington’s testimonial, where she elaborates on how being a homosexual affected her identity and family life.  It’s on the nose, but it works.  This makeover segment is an Ultimate Fighter first, though I’ll bet Georges St-Pierre offered to spring for some mani-pedis at some point during TUF 12.

Pennington is testing fate by rocking some extraordinarily tall stilettos the week of a fight.  Luckily, she and Sarah Moras manage to escape injury.  Their stylist is less than impressed.

Peña: Come on!  You girls look like frickin’ linebackers.

Patrick Willis is more graceful than this.

Team Tate’s guest star this week is esteemed Muay Thai trainer Melchor Menor.  Anyone who tuned in part-way and thought that was Cung Le, congratulations: You’re a racist.

Miesha Tate says that Pennington is the strongest girl on the team, but a slow starter.  In a two round fight, that is problematic.  Just to recap, Pennington got into the house by submitting one of the elimination round’s most well respected fighters, Tonya Evinger.  She looks good sparring with Cody Bollinger and…hold up…

What in the hell is going on with the shorts on this show?

…what was I saying?  Oh yeah…

HOOTERS!

The fighters are hooked up with an awesome looking party and before you ask, no, Roxanne Modafferi doesn’t don a bikini in this episode.  Roxy, you coy seductress.  There are some nice slow motion shots of the Hooters girls and Tate (yowza!) that make up for it.  I guess.  *sigh*  What’s Holdsworth up to?

But of course.

Someone is missing and it turns out to be Duke who decides to stay home and focus on preparing for the fight.  Say it with me now: BOOOOO!  Kidding aside, Duke has a lot in common with Pennington.  Her past is littered with other people trying to decide what she should be.  She is a tall, thin, pretty woman and that naturally led to modeling and acting gigs.  It didn’t take.  Mixed martial arts, by nature of it being an individual sport, encourages fighters to be themselves and that is what draws people like Duke and Pennington to it.  That, and the fact that they’re a couple of bad ass chicks.

Back at the party, Ronda Rousey does a dorky referee dance in honour of Herb Dean and “Big” John McCarthy.  While I’m sure it will make for a lovely animated gif, it is somehow neither cute nor sexy nor endearing to me in any way.

I’m leaning more towards “embarrassing”.

A drunken Gutierrez causes chaos in the house.  He’s screaming for no reason and jumping into the girls’ beds.  Pennington is pissed especially with a fight coming up.  When she confronts him, he gives her the Shaggy defence.  As punishment, the girls surround Gutierrez when he wakes up in the morning and flip over his mattress.  I’m not sure how being toyed with by a trio of amazons is punishment.

I’ve had dreams like this before.

Take one look at Duke’s frame and you can see why she was born to strike.  I find it interesting that in the footage we see she’s training with Peggy Morgan, one of the few girls who can match her dimensions.  Wouldn’t you want her to spar with a shorter, stout opponent to better prepare her for Pennington?  Couldn’t they just have thrown Manny Gamburyan in there?  As tall as she is, Duke admits that she needs to use her range better.

No weigh-ins this week, but we do get a better look at Duke’s physique.

Holy s**t, she is ripped.

The fight

Duke starts off like she’s supposed to, throwing a lot of kicks and scoring points.  She ends up getting a standing guillotine, but is hesitant to commit to it.  That’s a smart decision as I’ve seen plenty of fighters kill their arms early in a fight going for a guillotine submission that just isn’t there.  If you’re not comfortable doing something, don’t do it.  They get off the cage and the action doesn’t stop.  I love the way Duke comes forward.  She’s like the Terminator (Summer Glau, that is).

Every time Duke goes to clinch, Pennington blasts her.  That doesn’t always work unless you have the hand speed for it, which she does.  Pennington’s volume one-ups Duke’s precision in my books and I give her the first round 10-9.

In the second round, Duke is really struggling to keep Pennington outside.  I could see how the fight might be close, but Pennington is pouring it on.  For a while, it looks like Duke can’t land anything hard.  Pennington takes two big knees to the face and I realize that she just might have an iron jaw.  I thought Pennington got both rounds, but it goes to a third and I’m not complaining.  The story is the same as the second round and Pennington is peaking at the right time.  I actually give her the fight 30-27.  Incredible output from both girls.

The other fighters love what they saw.  Shayna Baszler sums it up with some unintelligible grunts.  Now that I think about it, that’s how I sum up a lot of exciting sports moments.  Like when you see a nasty dunk, you just go “uuuuuunh” or “WHOOOO!”  The fight draws Griffin/Bonnar comparisons and I think we all need to settle down.

Rousey flips Tate off, which comes off as ridiculous, especially after such a riveting contest.  It’s one thing to be playing for the cameras; it’s another to be begging for attention.  That moment was for the fighters, not her.  It is nice to see her consoling Duke, who makes no excuses.  She’s just frustrated that she didn’t finish.

I saw many people picking Duke and Pennington to make it to the finals after they were seen with Dana White at the Mayweather/Canelo fight.  I wonder if this changes your mind.  Maybe he just wanted to reward them for putting on what will likely end up being the fight of the season.  There’s still a good chance that Duke is brought back as a replacement (Jessica Rakoczy has a nagging shoulder injury) and wouldn’t it be fitting if these two got three more rounds on a bigger stage?

Her first stitches.  Her first win in a UFC cage.

Next week: Tate picks Canadian Josh Hill to face Englishman Michael Wootten.  For the colonies!  By the way, this also means that the last male fight will be Cody Bollinger vs. Anthony Gutierrez and the last female fight will be Sarah Moras vs. Peggy Morgan.

The Ultimate Fighter 18: Team Rousey v. Team Tate – Week 5 Recap

With the recent news that would-be title challenger Cat Zingano may have suffered another injury setback, you have to wonder how different this season would be if she was a coach on TUF 18 instead of Miesha Tate.  The narrative would be completely different and the show would likely become a showcase for the relatively unknown Zingano as opposed to revolving around the blood feud between Tate and Ronda Rousey.  I doubt the alternative could be as compelling as what we’ve seen so far.  This is one of those bad breaks that actually turned out better for the UFC (see also: Grant, TJ).  Best wishes to Zingano on a full recovery.

Team Colours:

Team Rousey
Team Tate

We open on Jessica Rakoczy getting back to what she does best: taking care of everyone, starting with the woman she nearly drove through the mat, Roxanne Modafferi.  That’s got to be a mind f**k, eh?  Later, Roxy is found hiding in the yard and crying, which is a total bummer.  She forces herself to brighten up when the camera crew tracks her down and it’s actually kind of creepy.

This is what I call a typical Saturday night.

On a happier note, David Grant is fighting for love!  He wants enough money to get married and provide for his kids.  If everything he says is to be believed, he’s found the perfect woman who steered him away from the dark side and who also agreed to stay home and take care of their kids while he went out and chased his dream.  Men, feel free to hate this guy.

Just like with Robert Whittaker last year, hearing Grant speak is giving me pleasant TUF: The Smashes flashbacks.  He also seems a little too nice.  When Edmond Tarverdyan tells him to break everyone in the house, he just laughs it off.

The episode takes a moment to look in on Raquel Pennington having a discussion with Shayna Baszler about being a gay professional athlete.  Pennington says it changed her relationship with her parents, at first for the worst but later for the better.  I’m surprised that they didn’t wait for the episode where she fights to focus on this aspect of her life, but I’m also relieved that they’re keeping it short and sweet.  Much like how the WWE has handled the recent revelation of Darren Young’s homosexuality with tact and respect (the last thing I expected from that organization), it’s becoming more and more commonplace to show admiration for someone’s willingness to be open about their relationship choices while also realizing that it isn’t and shouldn’t be a big deal.

See how mature I can be?  Now let’s take a moment to check in on Chris Holdsworth and the out of context dialogue of the week:

Holdsworth: Oh my God…so good, Julianna.

And then:

Holdsworth: So far it’s been pretty hard and it’s just going to get harder from here on out.

Thanks, Chris.

The man gets his enchilada.

Truth or dare!  I can’t remember if this has ever been done on TUF before.  If it has, I’m sure it was never this memorable.  Sarah Moras says that Anthony Gutierrez is the hottest guy in the house, which draws an OMGZ EWWW!!!11!! reaction from Julianna Peña who says that his personality makes him ugly.

We all know Juli only has eyes for one man.

Josh Hill picks “dare” and he has to use a cheesy pick-up line on Modafferi.  It goes something like this:

Hill: Nice shoes.  Wanna f**k?

Hill is a professional fighter and a model.  You should not try this.  Also, Modafferi is working on her Japanese blog.

Because of course she is.

Gutierrez takes this opportunity to call out Louis Fisette as the weakest link.  Fisette tries to stay cool though he’s clearly offended and he refuses to drop the issue.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, the men are cattier than the women on this show.

Fisette: What makes you think I’m the weakest link?
Gutierrez: I honestly don’t think anybody here is weak but if I had to call somebody the weakest I think it’d be you.
Fisette: Okay, what’s the reasoning?
Gutierrez: ‘Cause you’re the only one that tapped out.

Mic drop.

This leads in nicely to the Fisette portion of the broadcast.  He claims to be Mr. Nice Guy and explains that he was never the type to pick fights or get into bar brawls.  He couldn’t be sounding more Canadian right now.  Aware that he’s the underdog, he says that he has nothing left to lose.  I hate when people say that.  Unless you’re dead, there’s always something left to lose.

Rousey’s infamous mom makes a guest appearance and I’m not gonna lie, she looks a little cray cray.

Like mother, like daughter.

Mama Rousey makes like Sergeant Slaughter and whips the troops into shape.  She demonstrates an arm bar on Baszler, making this the first time someone on the show has been beaten up by a grandmother.  If only Tim Gorman was still around.  Rousey speaks fondly of how dearest mother would send her to tournaments even if she was injured.  It sounds like we have another Marv Marinovich on our hands.  Nevertheless, her maternal instincts prove to be just what Grant needs to keep him mentally tough.  She reminds him that if he was standing between his opponent and his children, there’s no way he would let them down so how can he lose?

The next day, Team Tate executes a prank based around Tarverdyan’s resemblance to a vampire.  Tate initially just says “The Count” so I’m assuming we’re talking Count von Count here.  Now I can’t stop imagining Tarverdyan going One punch, two punch, ah ah ah! when his team hits pads.  Along with the doll there’s a coupon for an eye brow waxing which is mean, but funny.  Even Rousey knows better than to tell Tarverdyan about it.  Armenians are not known for their sense of humour.

I’m a sucker for weigh-in drama (don’t ask) and the earlier discussion about unhealthy food and Grant’s size makes me think there will be some anxiety here, but both guys make weight without incident.  Fisette still refuses to remove his shades!

DOUCHE CHILL

The fight

Friends and roommates forced to duke it out!  It’s Grant who rushes in first, contrary to Tate’s belief that Fisette would be the aggressor.  After some cage work, Fisette attempts some sort of flying knee or guard pull (?) that ends up with Grant on top.  Grant is fine with working from inside guard and his ground and pound work eventually opens up a cut on Fisette’s forehead.  Fisette attacks the leg, but this only results in him giving up half guard and then side control.  He can’t muster up any significant offence and Grant takes the first round, 10-9.

Fisette is a bloody mess.  Rousey remarks that he was “saved by the f**in’ bell”.  She might be right.  The second opens with Grant slamming Fisette down again and moving to the back.  Grant gets a tap-out via rear naked choke about a minute in.  Great effort from both guys.  Fisette is a warrior and he handles defeat with class, carrying Grant on his shoulders afterwards.

Thanks mate.

Next week: A match that both coaches were aiming for, Jessamyn Duke v. Raquel Pennington.  Also, I stop making jokes about how Fisette lives with his parents.