We’re halfway through the first round and I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying this season so far. The coaches are better, the fighters are better and the show just looks better. Making it through last season was a chore, but TUF 17 has been a delight so far. Better get on with it before I jinx the whole thing.
Team Sonnen (actually black on the show, but blue for the purposes of this article)
“Bubba” McDaniel congratulates Chael Sonnen on coaching Kevin Gastelum to a big win and it’s nice to see both teams continue to carry themselves with such class and digni…
This week’s theme is team unity. Everyone on Team Sonnen seems to be getting along, with Luke Barnatt showing a lot of support for Tor Troéng, his fellow overlooked European. Of course, there are always exceptions and we see Uriah Hall’s frustrations (which have been hinted at all season) boil over. The prohibitive favourite keeps putting his foot in his mouth leading to clashes with just about everyone in the house. He does not like to be corrected and anytime someone takes that tone with him he takes it as a sign of great disrespect. Unfortunately, instead of working this out in a mature way he chooses instead to lash out with awkward insults. At a Team Jones campfire gathering, he asks Adam Cella: “Is your girl like a bitch like you?”
I should mention that the only reason he was hanging out with the Jones’ is because his own team had enough of his attitude. A heated sparring session the previous day put him on Barnatt’s s**t-list and the situation is exacerbated when Hall says he’d like to fight “Bigs” in response to a question from Gilbert Smith. Even though he was just being honest about who would be a good match-up for him, it still comes off as incredibly rude to even mention fighting a teammate when the squads have been so tightly knit this season. “King” Casey refuses to let Hall have the last word and I’m reminded why I’m so happy that there are four black guys on the show to escalate these disagreements.
Both teams agree that Hall has been transparent in his desire to be on Team Jones and that he should have stuck by his comments after he made them. His reaction to being criticized is not to defend his viewpoint, but to say that he shouldn’t have spoken up in the first place. Weak. He also can’t handle playful banter, instead taking every minor remark as a grave insult. When pressed on it, he keeps going back to how he was teased as a child, an excuse that is quickly losing credibility. Cella has the most disturbing observation: It’s almost like he was trying to bully us.
Hall also has this annoying habit of punctuating his testimonials with the same finger snap every time. I think even I’m starting to hate him now.
From day one, I thought that Josh Samman had the potential to be an overbearing dick and if this episode is any indication, he’s following through on that front. There’s just something about the things he says and does that make him seem arrogant. Watching him lead backyard training sessions as if he’s king s**t doesn’t sit well with me or some of his teammates. Still, I respect him a lot for putting in the effort to motivate the team and for his own personal triumph over a potentially life altering injury. It helps that the dude is also a great fighter.
Troéng’s narrative revolved around him being technically sound and Sonnen prophetically laments not being able to figure out his weaknesses so they can fix them. Come fight time, Troéng is too methodical and he seems a step behind Samman in every way. He listens to Sonnen’s instructions, but in the middle of the fight if you have the time to listen to everything your corner says, you’re probably not being aggressive enough. Troéng lowers his hands at the wrong moment and Samman smacks him with a big left-right combination that knocks him out cold. You know that Hall is dying to face Samman in the next round.
Guess that pre-fight full body massage wasn’t enough:
Next week: Team Jones’ no. 1 pick Clint Hester faces off with grappling champion Jimmy Quinlan. Quinlan is one of my sleepers and I’m not giving Jones anymore undue credit. Go with the upset pick.