Hooters. It’s what’s for dinner.
Team Sonnen (actually black on the show, but blue for the purposes of this article)
The group gets treated to an outing at the world’s most well endowed restaurant chain and even for the guys with wives or girlfriends it has to be a breath of fresh air. Still, to go from a house full of dudes to a place filled with voluptuous women almost seems like it could be dangerous. It’s like when the people on Survivor finally get to eat a huge meal after nibbling on plain rice for weeks. They always overdo it and end up nearly exploding. I’m not sure what the equivalent would be in this scenario and perhaps it is best if we don’t think about it too much.
In a shameless attempt to boost ratings, the show also threw in a gratuitous strip tease:
They do an outstanding job of conveying (manufacturing?) the drama around Uriah Hall. Last week’s episode was all about him, but they follow up with a subtle scene where he chooses not to take a picture with the other guys after dinner. Whether it’s because he’s some sort of prude or he has truly given up on being part of the group, it’s a strong image. They are not doing anything to protect Hall’s character, which is fine because he’s become a polarizing figure. He’s someone who you want to watch for all the right reasons. This is a stark contrast to the usual “controversial TUF house member”, who is usually a loud, obnoxious drunk devoid of any real personality or talent that only exists to provide meaningless conflict. Love him or hate him, Hall seems like a genuine person experiencing serious conflict.
After winning last week, Josh Samman begins to suffer from severe leg pains and a trip to the hospital is in order. Every season features at least one or two episodes with an injury scare and it’s a stark reminder how well conditioned and lucky these contestants have to be to be able to compete in this tournament with little rest between fights. When you look at the layoff fighters regularly get when they reach the major leagues (3-4 months), competing multiple times in the same month is almost miraculous. I can only remember one season being seriously derailed by injuries (TUF 11: Liddell v. Ortiz). Other than that, the majority of fighters have been able to stay healthy and thankfully that turns out to be the case with Samman.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the part where Clint Hester is pretending to ride the model Harley they have in the house. Gilbert Smith walks up and starts beat boxing, explaining “This is where your song starts.” Hester says Smith is going “too fast” and Smith immediately switches up to a slower, more methodical beat that transitions perfectly into a musical pick up by the show. It’s a neat bit of programming.
This week’s inspirational Chael Sonnen speech revolves around positivity and enthusiasm. With a few simple words, he derails the cliché “striker v. grappler” narrative, saying that it doesn’t matter if Jimmy Quinlan gets caught by a hard punch from Hester. Too often do we see grapplers being told to play it safe and stick to the game plan, but Sonnen (who has decried the importance of game planning in the past) alleviates any worries that his team might have about Quinlan getting hit with a lucky strike:
Do you have a problem being hit in the middle of a fist fight? Do you have a problem being hurt in the middle of a fist fight? Then why do we keep bringing it up? He’s gonna get hit and it’s gonna get hurt but he’s gonna stay on his feet and he’s gonna take care of business anyway!
Can we get a calendar full of Chael Sonnen quotes made, please? You hear me, Zuffa? Take my money!
I’ll never have a problem with athletes showing good sportsmanship and getting along, but one criticism I do have of TUF 17 is that the fighters might have gotten too friendly. It’s not a bad thing and it’s always fun to see that two guys who get into a cage to fight are not necessarily out to murder each other, but at the same time it can lead to some flat encounters. Hester and Quinlan are so buddy-buddy that they cannot get the smiles off of their faces during the post-weigh-in faceoff. This does lead to a nice moment on fight day where Quinlan accuses Hester of using a bowl with his name on it and then challenging him to brawl down by the monkey bars. It’s the kind of self-aware moment you rarely see on TUF.
Unfortunately for Team Jones, the fight goes exactly as Sonnen expected and Quinlan is able to take the fight to the mat within seconds. Hester is a superb athlete and he’s able to get up more than once, but Quinlan is stuck to him like a backpack. To Hester’s credit, both coaches note that he’s able to generate an unusual amount of power from some normally disadvantageous positions and that he might even have won the first round despite spending time on his back. It becomes a moot point as Quinlan opens up the second with another takedown, eventually advancing to mount and then taking the back and finishing with a rear naked choke.
Team Sonnen regains control, but there’s only one possible match left. It’s probably better that way since almost every fight the coaches picked ended up with the guy from their team losing (only Hall was victorious after being picked by Sonnen).
Next week: Zak Cummings against the last overall pick, Dylan Andrews. Cummings calls Andrews the nicest person he’s ever met. Somehow I don’t think that’s going to stop him from punching his face off.