mma

The Ultimate Fighter 17, episode 2: We believe in you … maybe

What we learned from episode 2 of The Ultimate Redesigned Fighting Show …

– The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ cover of Higher Ground, which replaced the original TUF theme as the show’s intro music, has been replaced by … pretty much nothing. No montage of the fighters smiling and grimacing for the cameras. Just quick pictures of Jon Jones, Chael Sonnen and Dana White, in case you forgot what they look like.

– Josh Samman worried that coach Jon Jones made a really questionable fight pick, sending Gilbert Smith against the much taller No. 1 Sonnen pick Luke Barnatt.

– The darker, more cinematic photographer makes the TUF house look bleaker than usual.

– Bubba McDaniels (not a pro wrestler, as far as we know) worried that coach Jon Jones made a really questionable fight pick, sending Gilbert Smith against the much taller No. 1 Sonnen pick Luke Barnatt.

– Gilbert Smith misses his family and weeps in the backyard, staring at the flag of his home state, Colorado.

– Other fighters on Team Jones worried that coach Jon Jones made a really questionable fight pick, sending Gilbert Smith against the much taller No. 1 Sonnen pick Luke Barnatt.

– Chael Sonnen’s coaching staff includes TUF vet/grappling ace Vinny Magalhaes and diet guru Mike Dolce. Jones’ staff include former TUF coach Frank Mir, who says little on camera even when cornered, and John Woods, who talks a lot more.

– Jones’ coaching staff worried that coach Jon Jones made a really questionable fight pick, sending Gilbert Smith against the much taller No. 1 Sonnen pick Luke Barnatt.

– Sonnen’s training seems to be going well, and he’s going to go through it with them so he knows how it feels.

– Sonnen visits the house to tell Uriah Hall he’s the best, and that the coach just wants to make sure he gets through to the next round and avoids a difficult matchup in the first round. It looks a bit like Marmalard oozing elitist slimeball talk to Kevin Bacon at the Omega rush. But Hall insists he wants to fight tough opposition.

– Gilbert Smith worried that coach Jon Jones made a really questionable fight pick, sending Gilbert Smith against the much taller No. 1 Sonnen pick Luke Barnatt. At the very least, he’d like some positive reinforcement.

– Team Jones, in a fighters-only dressing room meeting, confronted Smith about his lack of mental and cardio readiness for the fight. Smith: “If that’s not an ambush, please somebody describe what an ambush is.”

– Jones listened through the door as if eavesdropping on people in the next hotel room, then entered the room to reassure Smith. “As I believe in you, you’ve got nothing to worry about. … Controversy is nothing.”

– Smith strikes a bodybuilder pose at the weigh-in, even turning to show off his rippling back muscles.

– Barnatt has a nine-inch height advantage but only a 3.5-inch reach advantage. Still, he has to reach down to touch gloves.

– Smith buried his head in Barnatt’s torso through much of the fight, occasionally getting a takedown and even flirting with an improbable slam at one point.

– With the new cinematography, we can’t see fighters in the background. Everything outside the cage is dark.

– In the second round, Smith shot for a takedown and ran straight into a flying knee. KO.

– Dana White worried that coach Jon Jones made a really questionable fight pick, sending Gilbert Smith against the much taller No. 1 Sonnen pick Luke Barnatt.

– McDaniels, who worried about Team Jones losing control, tried to goad Kevin Casey into fighting next, figuring that was one way to get some input into the next fight pick.

– Instead, the next fight pick is the fearsome-looking Uriah Hall against Adam Cella. And this is the fight that sends a fighter to an ambulance. You’d think Cella would be the victim, but is that Chael Sonnen running to the cage with a look of concern on his face?

– Coach Jon Jones realizes he made a really questionable fight pick, sending Gilbert Smith against the much taller No. 1 Sonnen pick Luke Barnatt.

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