The_Vortex: It’s that time of year again Bloody Elbow. We return to the Ultimate Fighter, and this time we get a national rivalry even more heated than the legendary rivalry that was Australia v. Canada. Here, we are privileged to watch The Ultimate Fighter: Mexico v. Latin America.
Look, I know this it seems like I’m buying into the UFC’s hype here, but as an Australian, I am utterly clueless as to the cultural and national rivalries here.
To be honest, I only remembered about this season when I noticed a commercial for it as I was waiting to see Killa B fight. There have almost been negative levels of promotion for this season and I’m not surprised as to why. All negativity aside, I’m personally quite excited. I love TUF. Low level drama, and medium level fights. Bring it on.
Surprisingly, this season is taking place in the good old U.S. of A. We get a look at the guys, and there are all of the staples already. “Strange facial hair” guy and “mohawk” guy stick out. I can’t wait to meet “pushy religious” guy and “cries about his family” guy soon.
And boom, in walks Dana…
NewChallenger: Don’t forget the close relative to “cries about his family” guy, “cries for no reason” guy.
Glad to be back doing this with you now that the aforementioned Canada/Australia rivalry has subsided. The bad news is that this is yet another season of the increasingly irrelevant TUF franchise that we are choosing to slog through; the good news is that after TUF 19 all I have to see is someone throw a punch without tripping and falling on their face and I’ll be satisfied. Besides, this one actually gets off to a promising start.
For one thing, we have the fighters nicknames listed in the credits, which is helpful. This is slightly different from the way they’ve done it on TUF: Brazil where it’s either the fighter’s first name or his nickname. Here we get both! On the other hand, the theme is way too mellow. I was hoping for something rhythmic and upbeat. Then again, I’m also a racist a**hole.
Dana says he’s been waiting fifteen years to do this show. I’m disappointed he can’t even muster up an hola for the visiting parties. It’s unclear if they were told ahead of time that this would be Mexico versus everyone else. I’m glad they decided to skip the qualifying fights. With niche seasons like this, just get the ideal cast in the house. Speaking of which, these guys could not be more excited about seeing the legendary TUF casa.
The_Vortex: So, Cain Velasquez won the coin flip, which means he has the choice of first fight, and essentially, an unfair stranglehold on the rest of the competition. Somewhat similar to his match ups against 95% of the heavyweight division, I guess, so life is imitating art here.
NewChallenger: I do hate how in these seasons where the teams are already picked, the coin flip can only benefit one team. The decision between first pick or first fight always intrigues me. I’ve yet to figure out which decision has proven more fruitful in the past, though I lean towards fighter pick.
The_Vortex: The show isn’t even fifteen minutes old, and we already have some guys whining about how dirty the house is. Editors, seriously, this is episode 7-8 kind of stuff. Don’t give us this exciting storyline too soon, we might not be able to handle it. Of course, the Mexican guys figure that the best solution is to leave passive-aggressive notes around the house about pigs not cleaning the kitchen. When will the drama end?
NewChallenger: I don’t want to hear any jokes about how quickly the Mexicans take to cleaning up the kitchen. Besides, my maid is from Ecuador.
The_Vortex: In another stroke of genius, the Mexican team decide to…wait for it… cover all of the other flags with the Mexican flag! Wow, what high level pranking! That’s really set the bar high…
NewChallenger: In our first visit to the respective training camps, the coaches take some time to single out some promising fighters. I don’t think I’ve seen that too much on previous seasons. Fabrício Werdum praises Guido “Ninja” Cannetti, Marlon “Chito” Vera, and Bentley “El Doctor Bolivia” (these nicknames!) Syler. Velasquez’s early favourites are José “Teco” Quiñonez, Masio “Lobo” Fullen, Yair “Pantera” (these nicknames!!!) Rodríguez, and Gabriel “Moggly” Benítez. Smart way for the show to establish a few names for us.
It should be noted that this is the first time I’ve heard Velasquez speak Spanish. It also needs to be noted that Werdum sounds like he’s much better at it.
The first bantamweight match-up is Teco versus El Doctor Bolivia and…wait…what’s this…
Weight cut drama?
WEIGHT CUT DRAMA?!?
Excuse me while I wipe the drool off of my desk.
The_Vortex: WEIGHT CUTTING ISSUES?
IN EPISODE 1?
I can’t handle this. Already, this episode is more exciting than the entirety of TUF 19. So, Teco, our gloriously moustachioed Mexican has weighed in at 136.4. It looks like we’re heading towards the danger zone.
It’s ok, though. Werdum pops up immediately, and tells Team Mexico to grab Teco a towel so he can strip off the rest of his clothes and lose that weight. He makes the 136 limit, but Team Latin America takes it to mean that Teco’s not in proper condition, and apparently his diet wasn’t anything to be proud of.
El Doctor Bolivia comfortably makes weight, leading to a pretty silly looking staredown. The most important part of the weigh-ins, though, is Team Mexico supported Teco by wearing the same glorious facial hair.
This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
NewChallenger: Syler lives up to his name by acting as a consultant for Team Latin America. The others go to him for advice on dieting and supplement usage. His patience has endeared him to his housemates. On his unique career path, he muses: To fight, I only have these years. To be a doctor, I have many years ahead in the future.
Teco styles his mustache to honour Emiliano Zapata, a revolutionary. And that’s all you need to know about that.
The_Vortex: Werdum gives some final advice to his fighter, something about sticking and moving, and we’re ready to rock and roll. Teco is about 10cm bigger and rangier than his opponent, and also a fair bit younger. They’re both coming in with five fights experience, Teco on 4-1 and Bentley an unbeaten 5-0.
Crucially, I’m going to leave the all important job of identifying and locating hawt photos of our new ring girl to my Canadian counterpart.
The fight is pretty action filled, but Bentley quickly loses his control on the outcome. After spending the first minute successfully dragging Teco to the ground, he’s really unable to get him back there. A very nice kick to the body leads to Bentley backpedalling and eventually tripping into the cage. Teco flurries on him, and whilst he doesn’t get the finish, he’s definitely done some damage. Teco stuffs a desperation takedown, flips Bentley onto the ground, and wails on him for about a minute. With half the round to go, Bentley forces his way back to his feet. They circle, and flail wildly at each other. Bentley’s doing pretty well for himself here, with a couple of heavy leg kicks, and a combination that makes Teco drop to one knee. It’s not enough, though. A couple of punches lead to Bentley slipping over, and Teco leaps on him, raining down blows. Bentley fights it for twenty seconds-ish, but eventually turtles up. Chris Tognoni has seen enough and calls it. It’s a good stoppage, maybe a touch late on a re-watch.
NewChallenger: As much as I love the drama, I’m glad that Teco made weight because we got a good opening bout to kick off the season. The size differential played a big part in the outcome as Syler just couldn’t keep Teco down and whenever he tried to create distance he kept getting tagged.
Teco: The best part of winning the fight is the moustache, because it’s still there. It didn’t suffer at all.
With control still in his grasp, Cain picks Moggly to face Diego Rivas. Team Velasquez actually wanted Moggly to go first, but he tweaked his ankle. That show of confidence could spell trouble for Team Werdum. They’re already less familiar with each other than the Mexican squad. Could a slow start send the entire operation off the rails?
The_Vortex: That episode had some of everything. Weight drama, passive aggression, glorious mustaches, a good fight. If this is what we can expect for the rest of this season of TUF: Latin America, sign me up!
Next week: Gabriel Benítez v. Diego Rivas! Also, her name is Betzy Montero.