The final episode of TUF Smashes, the UK-vs.-Australia season, also concluded a few days ago. The last episode featured good-natured toasts between two teams who have come to respect each other, then a stellar submission by Colin Fletcher. Maybe Fletcher’s fight against the far smaller Richie Vaculik looked like a giraffe fighting a gnat, but give actor/surfer Vaculik some credit for taking the fight to him.
We also saw Valentino Petrescu showcasing his juggling skills from his circus days. And a lot of laughter. If you saw any of these guys on a fight card, you’d be likely to root for them.
Back to the USA. Yes, we have to.
Team Nelson seems unhappy. Joey Rivera says he feels “jaded” by Roy’s practices.
The word “jaded” can mean “worn out or worried, as by overwork or overuse,” but the team has griped all season over a lack of practice time, so that can’t be it. Another meaning: “dulled or satiated by overindulgence.” Is that some sort of crack about Roy’s belly?
Rivera also complains that there was no synergy. OK, now we’re in a Dilbert cartoon. Maybe Roy should’ve proactively enabled his team to feel empowered to streamline operations into a client-based operation. Bingo!
Of course, we don’t get much of a discussion of Nelson’s assistant coaches, one of whom is fighting for the UFC lightweight championship Saturday night. Well, maybe a passing reference to the Skrap Pack.
Then we go straight to the fights. Colton Smith fights in the second-tightest shorts ever seen in the Octagon without losing a bet (tightest: Mike Easton) and wears down Jon Manley in the 12th fight out of 13 this season to go the distance. And just as the Knockout of the Season bonus is about to go unclaimed, Mike Ricci knocks Neil Magny cold with an elbow. Magny awakes and starts grappling with referee Steve Mazzagatti, thinking he’s still in a fight.
Ricci says he choked up a bit afterward because he hurt a friend of his. Somewhere in Canada, Michael Hill is throwing a shoe at a TV screen, remembering the days when HE was Ricci’s BFF.
So the final features the ultrasmug Ricci, who threw fellow Canadian Hill under the bus, against Smith, who won his prelim after he faked the traditional touch of gloves at the beginning. In fairness, Smith seemed to be a good guy in the house, but the “liberal tree-huggers” among my neighbors would like a word with him.
The top talent of the season is clearly Danny Downes. No, he wasn’t on the show, but the fighter is a terrific episode recapper.
Someone might surprise us. Smith and Ricci could mature. Magny is one to watch, even if Dana White has followed through on his threat to keep all these guys off the finale. Manley and Sam Alvey have a bit of potential.
But this fall’s TUF experience raises a big question: If the UFC is running a good solid version of The Ultimate Fighter somewhere else on the planet, why do an inferior version at “home”?