Sixteen things you might not know about the cast of the show’s 16th domestic season (not counting TUF Brazil or the new international seasons in various stages of planning/production — UK vs. Australia, India):
1. Two fighters have big red or pink Mohawks. (Julian Lane, Ricky Legere Jr.)
2. Fighters include one from North Dakota (Leo Kuntz) and one from South Dakota (David Michaud). Michaud is representing his reservation, as this remarkable video shows.
3. Colton Smith is an Army Ranger with a political chip on his shoulder. “The only thing that Colton has a hard time not choking out is the plethora of liberal tree-huggers he tends to run into in the greater DC area,” says his bio at sponsor Ranger Up. I don’t know — most of the liberal tree-huggers I know in the D.C. area could probably take this guy. They work out a lot.
4. Jason South is 34. He addresses his age in his TUF bio: “Well most people are giving me shit because of my age but I think it’s going to play a big role in keeping my head in the right place.”
5. Kevin Nowaczyk’s nickname is “Give Me Your Lunch Money.” Most nicknames aren’t commands. And yet he’s so humble that he answers the TUF bio question “Why you think you will be the next Ultimate Fighter champion” with “I don’t know if I will be …” (Matthew Secor’s answer starts “I don’t think I will be” but continues “I know I will be.”)
6. Best answer to the “Why you’ll win” bio question goes to Sam Alvey: “Because the force is with me.” (He elaborates.) He also was a “big time band participant” in high school.
7. Most of Lev Magen’s fight experience is in Israel.
8. Cameron Diffley was Forrest Griffin’s assistant coach, specializing in jiu-jitsu, when the former UFC light heavyweight champion was a TUF coach.
9. Igor Araujo helps develop the jiu-jitsu of the current UFC light heavyweight champ, Jon Jones.
10. Bristol Marunde is an IFL and Strikeforce veteran who chased down a rape suspect and stopped him with a head kick.
11. Alaskan Nic Herron-Webb is nicknamed “Naptime.” His MMA specialty is “Nap-jitsu.”
12. Dom Waters’ nickname is “Sho Nuff,” not to be confused with Rodney “Sho Nuff The Master” Wallace.
13. Frank “The Crank” Camacho made his pro debut at age 16 and says he has been training to win The Ultimate Fighter since age 14. Most of his fights were on Pacific islands, but he has moved to Maryland to work with Lloyd Irvin.
14. James Chaney, one of only three cast members with a Wikipedia entry (the others are Marunde and Diffley), has fought in Russia and lists his MMA specialty as “sambo.”
15. Several cast members have fought in Zuffa’s sibling promotion Strikeforce, including Bristol Marunde, Saad Awad, Ricky Legere Jr., and Cortez Coleman. Legere and Coleman have Strikeforce wins.
16. This season had no open auditions.
Last season didn’t have a lot of drama in the house. You’d think 13 weeks in the house would make people crazier than usual, but it seems to have a sedating effect. Producers seemed to think bringing Ronda Rousey into the house would spark … something. No. What are they going to do — hit on her on camera, knowing they’ll be released into the real world in another six weeks or so?
Also, by going live each week, producers and editors only had a short time to see what had happened in the house. Storylines couldn’t really be built.
This season? Looks dramatic.
Hard-core fans might not be happy. But will the ratings be better? As Shaun Al-Shatti said at MMA Fighting — you’re either pumped or vowing not to watch a single second.