After the excitement of last week’s team picks, we are now in to The Ultimate Fighter proper. Team Rousey and Team Tate will square off in eight first round matches, and the competition opens with #1 pick .vs. #1 pick – experienced Shayna Baszler from Team Rousey taking on Tate’s friend Julianna Pena. Baszler was the favourite to win the whole thing as soon as the casts were announced, so she is obviously heavily favoured.
The episode opens with the teams arriving at the house and scrambling for bedrooms. Poor Roxanne Modafferi gets stuck with the four girls from Team Rousey, while Tim Gorman decides to go for the fridge rather than the beds. Some of the girls jump in the hot tub, and we get some cutaway interviews of the guys saying they might want to sleep with the girls, while the girls all say hell no to that. Speaking of Tim Gorman he manages to offend Shayna Baszler and Sarah Moras by saying that he’s never rolled with a woman, and he would not feel able to go at 100% against one out of “respect”. Moras threatens to tap him out, and Gorman guarantees that won’t happen. I’d love to see that happen…Baszler is talking to team mates Jessamyn Duke and Peggy Morgan who put Shayna over, and how big an advantage she has over Jessamyn. On the other hand Jessamyn talks about meeting Baszler as a fan.
Into training, and Miesha Tate talks about being overwhelmed by being head coach, and we meet her boyfriend and assistant Bryan Caraway. Caraway is an asshole – not here, just in general. After some range drills Miesha lets her team recover after the fights the day before with some cardio and transition drills. Tim Gorman has an injury it seems, so Bryan and Miesha pull him aside and he admits that he has probably torn his hamstring and done some serious damage to his leg. They want him to go get checked out, but Gorman is bullish and says he will fight anyway. The bruising and swelling is pretty nasty. As with every injured TUF contestant this is his “one chance” to fight in the UFC, even though history shows that isn’t true…
Team Rousey arrives, and barges into the gym bang on 6pm to kick out Team Tate. Miesha doesn’t take kindly to what is blatantly a psychological move from Ronda. Her assistant coach is Edmond Tarverdyan who has been coaching since he was 16 and runs Ronda’s camps. Interesting they seem to be pushing a ‘Ronda’s head .vs. Miesha’s heart’ angle in who they pick for their coaches and the fights.
Anthony Gutierrez talks about how all the girls want him, and how he wants some of them – but not the ones that want him too much. The girls talk about how obnoxious he is being, so at least it isn’t working. With Gorman maybe on the injured list, at least the douchebag quota won’t drop. Chris Beal has a hand injury, and he talks to Gutierrez about whether or not, if Shayna loses, Team Tate will pick him for the next fight. Shayna talks about how she can win the fight anywhere, and she has been fighting for over a decade. Julianna is very nervous, and her team mates tell her to focus on her game rather than what Baszler is going to do.
Back in the gym, we learn a bit more about Shayna’s background – she fought in empty halls for $300 after growing up in wrestling. She wishes she could “Vulcan mind meld” to us the journey that she and the other girls have had. Shayna’s has always been one of Ronda’s favourites, and Ronda’s not in the least bit worried. Gutierrez hits on Julianna, and Julianna talks about shaking off tomboy stereotypes by wearing far too much lipgloss. Miesha talks about training with Julianna, and we get our first massive cliche of the series – “she has one of those things you can’t teach, heart.” Cringe. Miesha is worried about Shayna’s submissions though.
Dana pulls Miesha and Tim Gorman aside and the doctor reveals that his hamstring is completely torn, so Dana sends him home despite his protests. He says his goodbyes, while Dana already knows who he is bringing back. Louis Fisette joins Team Tate, after looking impressive in defeat against Chris Holdsworth. Fisette is the guy who lives with his parents. At the weigh-ins Shayna puts a queen of spades in Julianna’s top, and back at the house the hair stylist comes to put their cornrows in for the fight. We don’t want any Clay Guida’s up in here! While Julianna is confident, her team mates talk privately of how they expect her to lose. Shayna believes she can end the fight whenever she wants , but will her overconfidence be her undoing? Fight time!
Julianna comes out of the gate quickly in the fight, with some big combos and the two clinch up. Seems Shayna wasn’t expecting that. Shayna takes the fight to the ground and keeps control for most of the round, though doesn’t get anywhere near a finish despite having Pena’s back. Easy win in round 1 for Shayna – not the finish we were promised, but dominant nonetheless. Pena seems really tired too. In the second round Julianna once again throws big combinations and really wins the fight on the feet, and manages to escape Baszler’s clinches quite easily. Pena ends up on top on the ground this time, and when Baszler tries to escape and roll Julianna takes her back. Uh oh. Sure enough Shayna is lax in her defence, and Julianna manages to take the huge upset via rear-naked choke. Ronda is pissed, and Shayna is distraught. Miesha and Julianna celebrate, while Team Rousey is left stunned. Ronda and Shayna share some tears, and Ronda gives her a nice speech about how this isn’t the end. Apparently Miesha being happy that her fighter won was her “smiling at my fighter’s pain” in Ronda’s eyes, and she makes a comment to Miesha about it later. Ronda is intense when she’s pissed off. Team Tate take control of the fight picks, and sure enough they pick Chris Holdsworth against the injured Chris Beal. Ronda says that’s some “p**sy *ss bullsh*t”. Or I think that’s what she said, there was a lot of bleeping. Ronda storms out of the gym and nearly runs Dana over in the process.
A good episode, though very much standard TUF. The contrast between the male and female attitudes to the co-ed house is amusing, let’s hope the women all stay well clear of Gutierrez. Gorman being gone is a blow as he would surely have brought some entertainment throughout the season, but a good fight and an upset are always interesting.
Next week: the team’s watch a UFC card at a bar and the coaches get into an argument, Ronda is still pissed about losing, and Chris Holdsworth vs. Chris Beal!