The Ultimate Fighter 17, Episode 12: Award time!

Wow, this is a long Harley-Davidson ad. Oh, wait, the show started. Yeah, one of the fighters gets a motorcycle. Whee.

Chael Sonnen jokes with Kelvin Gastelum that the semifinalist fighter has upgraded his diet from Krispy Kreme to brownies. Man, I miss my 20something metabolism.

Anyway, Gastelum and Josh Sannan both want to win. That’s a relief. Looks like nothing at all happened in the house after the first week or two.

Herb Dean is our ref. We start, we trade, we clinch, and Kelvin gets him down. Josh shows off his active guard, legs fluttering around Kelvin’s torso like wounded butterflies.

Kelvin’s second takedown finds him in better position, and he’s able to land some strikes. Josh scrambles but gives up his back. Kelvin grabs his neck with stunning ease. And so Josh, for all his bluster about being better than just about everyone here, taps out to a rear naked choke in the first round.

Josh is stunned. Kelvin is incoherent.

Next up: Dylan Andrews vs. Uriah Hall. Will Dylan and set up a battle of the last two draft picks? Or Uriah win and make it an all-Sonnen final?

Before the fight, we get more Sonnen hype of Uriah Hall. Uriah Hall can beat anyone in the weight class. Kids will grow up wanting to be Uriah Hall. Dana White will rewrite his will to leave his share of the UFC to Uriah Hall. North Korea will disarm just so Kim Jong-un can get floor seats to see Uriah Hall fight.

Dylan Andrews, meanwhile, is an underdog. He works hard. He wants to win.

Jon Jones builds up Andrews: “This is the finals match. We both know it.” Yeah, let’s keep overlooking Kelvin. That’s worked so well so far.

Fight time, and it’s clear Uriah isn’t overlooking Dylan. The overwhelming favorite is showing the soft-spoken Australian a lot of respect. He tries a couple of spinning kicks but seems a little tentative. Dylan lands a couple of half-decent shots. Neither guy seems the least bit interested in going to the mat, and they both seem intent on matching Rashad Evans’s unofficial record for most feints in one round. Dylan gets through Round 1, though the judges would likely give it to Uriah.

Jones isn’t happy with Dylan. “You threw like five punches that whole round. I don’t know why.”

Round 2: Hall slowly pecks away at Dylan, bloodying his face. Dylan finally decides to get aggressive, swinging with a wild combo and then taking Hall down. Hall passes the ground-game test, grabbing an armlock that looks dangerous. But it doesn’t fluster Dylan too much, and he keeps pounding away at Hall’s ribs. Sonnen keeps yelling, “You got it!” He don’t got it.

But Hall changes position and sets up guard. And he … somehow hits Dylan hard enough that Dylan gives up position and turtles. Hall pounces on Dylan’s back and pounds his ears a bit, but even Steve Mazzagatti is stopping this one.

“From the bottom? From the bottom!” yells Dana White, who says he hasn’t seen that in 13 years.

Hall is emotional. Dylan says his heart hurts more than his face. His face might beg to differ. That, or he needs to see a cardiologist tout suite.

Jones and Sonnen cap off a season of surprising sportsmanship and lead some handshakes between the teams.

Then Sonnen says the most improbable thing in show history. He says Gastelum and Hall were even in practice. OK.

The finalists face off and basically smile at each other. Dana White has to egg them into a true staredown, but they still clown around a bit.

Dana’s very happy and looks forward to seeing most of these guys in the UFC.

So that’s it, and let’s give some awards for a season that has already seen two guys fight in the UFC and will see 11 more in the finale, with Zak Cummings apparently just waiting for an injury to heal:

The Cristiano Marcello Invisibility Cloak Award: Tor Troeng. Seemed to be one of the most intriguing guys coming into the show. Can’t recall seeing him on camera any time other than his fight.

The Tom Lawlor Award for Post-Knockout Humor: Adam Cella, knocked out with such force that the rest of the house that the rest of the house treated Uriah Hall like Ron Decline from that point forward. (Yes, that’s Sen. Al Franken in that clip.) Yet Cella came back to have the funniest conversation ever recorded in a TUF bathroom, and he was a frequent confessional subject the rest of the way.

The Junie Browning House Lunatic Award: No award this season. These guys didn’t fight in the house about much of anything except occasional misunderstandings with Hall.

The Mac Danzig “What Am I Doing Here With Such Lesser Talents?” Award: Josh Samman. But unlike Danzig, he didn’t win.

The Colin Fletcher Quipmaster Award: Gilbert Smith, who got Kevin Casey to throw down in a rap battle.

The Michael Bisping Award for International Arrogance: Luke Barnatt apparently had an opinion on everything.

The Chael Sonnen Positive Coaching Award: Debut award given to its namesake, Chael Sonnen. Who would’ve guessed he’d be the John Wooden of TUF coaches, only with funnier quotes? Can he just retire from fighting and be a permanent coach?

The Danny Downes Recap Award: Also given to its namesake, @dannyboydownes.

See you Saturday for the finale. I have a bad feeling that Miesha Tate might be looking past Cat Zingano, who would be easily be the least experienced coach in TUF history if she should win. (OK, OK — Brock Lesnar, but at least he had won a UFC belt.)

The Ultimate Fighter 17, Episode 11: Bubba bounced

Last week … a couple of quarterfinals, and Ronda Rousey turned up for some grappleflirting. I was out of town, so check with Danny Downes.

This week … Uriah Hall finally fights again? That’s so exciting, I could swear Dana blinked more than usual in the opening credits.

Bubba McDaniel is worn down. Three fights and a lot of training in a short time will do that to you. Clint Hester starts getting his weight down just in case Bubba can’t go.

Also with Team Jones, Josh Samman, is pretty sure Jimmy Quinlan isn’t going to stand with him. “Jimmy’s going to shoot all the way from the other side of the cage.”

His teammates aren’t as confident, in part because Jimmy can hold people down and in part because Josh keeps getting hurt.

It’s a Frank Mir sighting! Anyone catch what he said?

Back to the ailing Bubba. “I don’t want to quit,” Bubba says. Jones says he had been waiting to hear that. “I don’t want to quit,” he says again. OK, good. “I don’t want to quit.” OK, we got it. “I lift things up and put them down.”

(Has anyone seen the techno mix of that ad? It’s not great, but it’s worth a quick peek. Here goes:)

We go to Team Sonnen briefly to hear Mr. Positive Chael tell Jimmy he’s fighting a lot better than he was a few weeks … oh, sorry, we’re back to Bubba. He goes for a blood test.

Fight day, but it’s Samman-Quinlan. So unless they reveal the blood test results between rounds, we’ll put the Bubba saga on hold briefly.

Round 1 — Jimmy does indeed virtually shoot from across the cage. Josh fights him off briefly, but Jimmy gets underneath and picks him for a slam. Josh tilts his weight, though, so Jimmy doesn’t get good control right away. Josh lands a few good elbows from the bottom, and Jimmy drips blood. Then Josh works a submission game from his guard. Then some simultaneous ear punches. It’s rare these days to see the fighter on the bottom dominating the fight, but that’s just what Josh is doing.

I see London, I see France, I see Jimmy Quinlan’s underpants. He should pull up his shorts so that he’ll at least be doing SOMETHING from top control.

Josh finally stands up and lands three big knees to the head. Jimmy crumples and turtles. Josh lands more double ear punches, this time atop Jimmy’s back. Jimmy taps to strikes, which is somewhat unusual unless Steve Mazzagatti is reffing. Which he is.

So now we’re back to Team Jones and Bubba. The blood tests are fine. Bubba may have a pulled muscle, but he’s got some adrenaline now that he knows he’s not having kidney failure or something.

Over to Team Sonnen, Chael thinks Uriah Hall is the greatest talent in the history of talent in any sport on any planet in any universe. But he sometimes lacks confidence. Chael takes Hall aside to do a Sonnen Mind Meld.

Summing up the next segment: They make weight. Uriah’s confident. Bubba isn’t. It’s about the closest you’ll ever come to seeing a guy say “I have no chance” in pre-fight hype.

Fight starts, Herb Dean is the … it’s over. Bubba’s on the mat, asking why his eye is messed up. Sonnen tells Hall he’s a contender. Replay shows a knee to the body, a straight right to Bubba’s eye, then a couple of punches on the ground before Herb Dean wisely stepped in.

Dana White on Hall’s KOs: “You don’t even wanna clap. You feel bad clapping. … This guy is the nastiest guy in Ultimate Fighter history.”

The remaining fighters: Each team’s No. 2 pick (Samman, Hall) and … each team’s last pick (Dylan Andrews, Kelvin Gastelum). So the fairest thing would be Samman-Gastelum and Hall-Andrews. Right?

The guys come in. Samman says everyone knows the final is made for him and Hall. He wants to beat Gastelum and set up the “biggest finale in TUF history.” Andrews says nothing. Hall can’t stand Josh and wants to fight him, but he knows that’s just an emotional thing. Gastelum wants Andrews because he thinks he can beat him. When the other options are Samman and Hall, that makes sense.

But the coaches want to see their top guys fight right away. Will Dana go with his coaches or his promotional instincts telling him a Samman-Hall finale could be huge?

The answer is … promotional instincts. It’s Josh vs. Kelvin. Then Uriah vs. Dylan. That’s why Dana makes the big bucks.

He explains: “My educated guess – Josh and Uriah are probably the best. Now we’re going to find out if I’m right or I’m wrong.”

Scenes from the next episode: Only four battle-tested competitors … does anything happen in the house in the last couple of weeks?

The Ultimate Fighter 17, Episode 9: Pores of a champion

The recap: Bubba wanted to fight Kevin, but Kevin fought Collin instead. And he stunk. But he’s happy to get another chance. The stitches in his forehead are frowning.

Bubba has a tearful confessional about wanting to see his daughter more. Then Team Jones’s coaches pump him up, saying he’s one of the best fighters in the house. The bad news: Bubba looks nervous. To drill that home, we get another confessional with an EXTREME CLOSEUP! SEE INSIDE BUBBA’S PORES! HE HAS THE PORES OF A CHAMPION!

The housemates recalled that Bubba’s callout of Kevin was the only callout of the season. Josh Samman can’t cede the spotlight that easily, so he calls out Jimmy Quinlan, mostly on the grounds that he’s … in the room.

But in practice, Uriah wants to fight Josh. And Jimmy, who tends to grapple people rather than knock them unconscious, says he wants to see Uriah beat the piss out of him.

Chael Sonnen then continues his transformation from trash-talking court-maneuvering bad boy to the Guru of Positive Coaching. “If his opponent is better, we can live with that. But we’ve got to see the real Kevin Casey.”

Casey has been practicing with a mask on to protect his cut. It looks like he’s auditioning for an MMA-themed remake of Silence of the Lambs.

Now it’s Thanksgiving dinner, and Sonnen proves himself the toastmaster. “Jon, it is a sheer disappointment, finding out what a nice gentleman you are.”

Some people are griping about not getting enough food. Bubba is cutting weight. Bubba angry. Bubba smash. Someone’s saving some food for after the fight, right?

But after another wholly unnecessary EXTREME CLOSEUP of Josh, Bubba steps up and makes weight. Kevin, on the other hand, needs to drop his drawers and step behind the Towel of Shame. He has trouble putting his pants back on. “I just don’t know what to do right now,” Sonnen says. He thinks maybe he should help, but …

Is it too late to have Chael replace Charlie Sheen on Anger Management? I’d watch that.

Dylan Andrews is afraid that Bubba might go crazy if he loses. Me too. Especially after the third “I should be able to smash this guy” confessional from Bubba in this episode.

Bubba and Kevin talk more. And more. And some ads. And Dana tells us it’s the wild-card fight. Finally, Steve Mazzagatti gets us started.

Kevin immediately gives up a takedown. I’d say he pulled guard, but he didn’t seem happy there, and he wall-walks his way up and out. Then he gets a takedown of his own, bending Bubba in all sorts of uncomfortable ways. Through 2:30 of the fight, it’s hard to recall a single strike.

Bubba eventually stands. Kevin holds him against the fence, but Bubba still manages to land some knees. Unfortunately, Kevin trips him down in the last 30 seconds, and Bubba just looks irritated for the rest of the round.

The second round finds Bubba again unable to remain at optimum kickboxing distance. He’s effective at dirty boxing, though, and he takes down Kevin in side control. Then he remembers the “pound” part of “ground and pound,” which Kevin doesn’t seem to enjoy.

An elbow sends Kevin’s mouthpiece flying, leading to some unusual corner advice: “You want that mouthpiece! Go get it!” Kevin works his way closer to it, but Bubba is effectively beating him up with good fists and elbows. The Sonnen staff is reduced to the Rampage-style corner advice of “Get up!”

So did the judges give a 10-8 in the second round? Of course not. We’re going to a third round. Kevin has to be helped to his corner.

We were promised a big finish, and we don’t have much time for much else. In fact, we have NO time, because Kevin can’t get up off his stool.

Bubba yells to Dana White, “Does that count as a finish?” Dana, smiling: “Good question! Yeah, we’ll give it to you.”

Fight recap: Chael is pleased that Kevin turned it into a grappling match rather than a fight in the first round. Then one of Chael’s team yelled into the cage that Bubba was breaking. Bubba angry. Bubba smash — for real this time. Afterwards, Bubba yelled not to tell him he’s breaking. Point taken.

Kevin’s departure puzzles Chael. “This was new to me,” the coach/philosopher says. Kevin says he once had kidney failure in a fight. He leaves in an ambulance. So we’re supposed to infer that he had kidney failure again?

Quarterfinal time. Dana says he usually brings in the fighters to get their preferences. This time … he also will do that. OK then.

One person (Collin?) actually calls out Uriah. But Uriah calls out Josh. They ask Josh about that, and he says Uriah is ducking Collin. Right.

As with Lesnar and dos Santos, the coaches surprisingly agree on everything. Dylan and Luke called each other out, so that’s easy.

But Dana has final say:

– Collin vs. Kelvin
– Dylan vs. Luke (New Zealand vs. UK)
– Josh vs. Jimmy
– Uriah vs. Bubba

Aw, come on. That’s not fair. Uriah: We all had this Scooby-Doo look on our faces. He does a good sound effect to illustrate — ah, the limitations of print render it impossible for me to replicate it.

So Josh and Jimmy get the fight that one of them really wanted and one sort of wanted. Dylan and Luke get their Battle of the Accents. The other four are going back to the house wondering what they did to piss off Dana.

On the next episode, we get an overhead shot of Brittney Palmer’s cleavage. Then two fights. And Ronda Rousey visits. Never say the producers don’t understand their demographic.

The Ultimate Fighter 17, Episode 8: Much more Mr. Nice Guy

Previously on The Ultimate Fighter: Nothing of interest. Not in the mini-recap, anyway. We’re quickly on to what passes for the theme music this season, a couple of French horn notes while Dana White squints.

Adam Cella thinks no one deserves a contract more than Bubba, based on his sacrifices and work ethic. I think he deserves because he stumbles over his cliches and ends up with something like “ducks in a basket with eggs in a hat.”

Jon Jones touts his last pick, Dylan Andrews, in advance of his fight against Zak Cummings. Of Cummings, Jones says he thinks he’s right-handed. Great scouting.

Andrews grew up with his brothers’ marijuana plants surrounding his bed. While many MMA fans seem to think that’s a cool thing, those brothers have apparently wasted their talents, while he was lucky enough to wander into a gym.

Uriah Hall bonds with Andrews over their fears of fighting. We only know that from Hall’s confessional. In their actual conversation, Hall looks like he’s staring daggers at Andrews. But we have to remind ourselves:

Next we hear that Cummings thinks Andrews is a really nice guy.

Coaches’ challenge time! Each guy is supposed to use heavy equipment to fill a dumpster, move tires and other stuff.

Dana White says this is the first time they’ve had a challenge that wasn’t some sort of sports challenge. Apparently, the Faber-Cruz “take large weapons and blow stuff up” challenge was sports-related.

“My father-in-law owns an excavation company,” Sonnen says. If he had known this would be the challenge, he would have called him.

But we get a thrilling back-and-forth battle. Jones gets the first scoop of dirt, then loses the hang of it. Sonnen races out to a big lead but has trouble with the third tire. Jones reclaims the lead and comes within one bad bounce of winning, leaving the door open for Sonnen.

Everything is going Sonnen’s way this season. Everything. The best we can say for Jones is that he’s taking it well.

Weigh-in goes smoothly. Dylan talks about his family. Sonnen generously says this looks like an even matchup because Dylan may not have stood out in the prelims, but Zak’s KO was a bit of a fluke. Let’s go back and check the draft — Zak Cummings was Sonnen’s third pick.

Herb Dean is the ref. He starts the fight. My closed-captioning tells me Sonnen says, “Need water.” We get 30 seconds of the anticipated strike duel before Zak presses for a takedown. Dylan defends that, but then Zak drops him. Dylan covers up. Zak gets in Dylan’s half-guard and lands elbows. Zak moves to mount but, to the shock of everyone, Dylan sweeps. Dylan gets in Zak’s guard and drips blood on him, but he also gets space for a good ground-and-pound assault.

Zak looks uncomfortable, but he does make things a little tricky by snaking his legs up. Dylan shrugs that off and advances to half-guard, raining elbows while Zak’s face shows the wear and tear of a tough first round. The horn sounds too soon for Dylan.

Round 2: Zak goes for an acrobatic spinning back kick, bringing a smile to Dylan’s face. Zak smiles back, and they touch gloves. A few seconds later, Zak touches his left glove to Zak’s face in a little less friendly manner. He chases a reeling Dylan across the cage, but Dylan recovers to dump him down. Dylan once again has a great position in Zak’s half-guard, with his corner yelling at him not to pass. Zak is trapped against the cage and can do little but defend and try to get Herb Dean to stand them up. Dean issues a couple of warnings, which encourages Zak to tie up Dylan tightly. But Dylan improves his position just a bit and gets some punches in there.

While this is going on, I have a great idea for a workout app. Call it “Herb Dean: Personal Trainer.” It’s a heart monitor. When your heart rate drops below a certain point, Herb says, “Work. Need some work.” When someone designs this, please send me a little portion of the royalties.

Anyway, Zak never figures out a way to get away from the cage. The horn sounds, Zak and Dylan hug, and Dylan raises his arms … in victory? We’ll have to see. Round 2 is definitely his. But Round 1?

Ad break builds the suspense, and …

We come back to see both fighters prepping for a third round. But no! Keith Kizer says that’s it.

Dylan admits he was close to tapping in Round 1 but somehow found another gear. “I went to another place, I don’t know what it is.”

It’s officially a majority decision. Cummings, like everyone else, hopes for a wild-card slot.

Ah, the ever-contentious wild-card discussion. Dana decides to leave it up to the coaches. He says two guys from each side are eligible: Team Sonnen’s Kevin Casey and Zak Cummings, Team Jones’s Clint Hester and Bubba McDaniel.

Sonnen says he’s an easier spot because Kevin clearly deserves it. And he empathizes with Jones having a tough call.

Remember when we all thought Sonnen and Jones were going to have nasty trash-talking sessions? Didn’t happen.

It’s all laughter in Jones’s dressing room as he jokes about being Bubba’s teammate but having a cool dude in Hester. “And he’s black!”

Ultimately, Jones decides to go with the guy who has put in more years. That’s not a bad criterion. Bubba gets the spot, and Hester immediately hugs him.

So it’s Bubba vs. the King. They wanted this fight all along. They’ve got it. The staredown is intense.

Next week: It’s a Thanksgiving dinner. And “one of the most shocking finishes in TUF history.” So the cage is electrified now?

The Ultimate Fighter 17, Episode 7: Bones does not know

We recap, and then Josh Samman, still in a towel in his post-victory whatever, starts planning matchups. What was Jon Jones saying about him coaching too much?

The gang goes to Hooters, and while I don’t make moral judgments, I refuse to acknowledge anything that takes place at a chain restaurant that encourages men to treat women as objects.

Actually, I may have gained some respect for Uriah Hall, who refused to join the gang for a photo with Hooters women.

Then it gets serious. Samman, who had a major problem with a blood clot, has pain in his leg. He gets it checked out. Nothing serious. But he gets to chill in a hospital bed for a bit.

Jimmy Quinlan, tonight’s underdog fighter, talks about going through the police academy after college. But like Forrest Griffin, he decided to go for the fighting thing first. (Unlike Forrest, as far as we know, he has a job waiting for him if the fighting thing doesn’t work out.)

Chael Sonnen goes through the fight plan, which we already knew. Quinlan is great on the ground. Clint Hester, his opponent and much-heralded top pick, comes from a boxing background. So Quinlan isn’t going to have much interest in standing toe to toe with him.

We meet Clint Hester, from my home state of Georgia. He used to hang out with smaller kids and threaten the guys who bullied them. For some reason, I have visions of him beating up Matt Hughes.

Quinlan, on the other hand, is no bully. He jokes that Hester used a bowl reserved for him, so now they’re going to have to fight today. Hester plays along: “OK, 4 o’clock by the monkey bars.”

These guys are almost as fun as the TUF Smashes cast. Probably better fighters.

Fight time. Quinlan shoots for the takedown right away. After some effort, he picks up Hester for a slam. Hester slowly works his way back up. Another slam. Hester gets up again and gets stuck in a clinch with Quinlan. But he’s able to creat some space for his knees, then his fists. The strikes are clearly bothering Quinlan, but he manages to get another takedown. Then another slam. And yet, Quinlan doesn’t seem to have landed a single strike. Hester strikes a few times for the bottom. Quinlan responds by moving down to Hester’s legs, as if to say, “Yeah, I took you down, and you’re still down, but I’m going to take you down AGAIN!”

So it’s a scoring dilemma. Do you favor Quinlan’s takedowns, as Luke “The Mouth of England” Barnatt seems to think?

Round 2, another takedown. And everyone yells at Hester to keep his hand on Quinlan’s head. He doesn’t. Quinlan gets mount. Hester decides to give up his back instead. Quinlan gets the choke, and we have another upset.

“That was a good fight,” says an unidentified voice. No, it wasn’t. It was a wrestler who has no other discernible fighting skills beating a guy who has no idea how to avoid being slammed by a wrestler. And it’s more proof that Jon Jones should just quit making fight matchups and flip a coin.

In fact — you know that bit about the fighters being better than those in TUF Smashes? I take it back. And I take back the bit about Hester beating up Matt Hughes.

Sonnen, as usual, offers up sound analysis. He was impressed with Hester’s striking from odd angles and less impressed with Quinlan’s takedowns. He leans toward Hester in Round 1.

Sonnen and Jones have some good-natured banter about their bowling bet from last week’s episode, and we’re on to the fight announcement. It’s Dylan Andrews vs. Zak Cummings because they’re the only two fighters left. And yet, it’s still probably Jones’s fault.

The closed captioning (yes, I need to keep the volume down) tells us Jones paid tribute to Dylan’s (speaks indistinctly). That’s promising.

Next week, Dana White gives the coaches construction equipment for the coaches’ challenge. This cannot go well.

The Ultimate Fighter 17, Episode 6: Oh, you mean this is EDITED?!

Before we begin, we’re reminded of a couple of minor issues from the season so far:

1. Josh might be speaking up a bit too much within Team Jones.

2. Uriah Hall was upset that someone corrected his word choice — cooker? Chef?

3. Dana White is blinking a lot in his closeup.

Chael Sonnen stops by to reassure Bubba McDaniel. Again, when did Sonnen become such a nice guy?

Moving ahead to the next fight, Sonnen is once again building up the other guy. He would’ve loved to have Josh on his team, but Tor Troeng is a sleeper.

No one seems to know anything about him other than he’s from Sweden and his teammates are making him a hammer. Because he’s “Thor,” right? Several roles of tape later, the hammer starts to look pretty good.

But we have discord on Team Sonnen. Hall is holding his hands low in sparring, so Luke Barnatt peppers him with a few light jabs. Hall responds by throwing hard. In confessional, Barnatt says Hall isn’t a team player, has an attitude, is an ego-driven machine, etc.

Maybe that’s what Hall means with this tweet:

Then Barnatt segues to a discussion of Americans always overlooking Europeans like Tor. The MMA scene is huge in Sweden. Also, Spinal Tap is big in Japan.

We meet Tor. He does math. He trains. Umm … can anyone say anything about him?

Sonnen to the rescue! He knows more about martial arts than anyone on Team Sonnen, but he’s unassuming and says little.

Out of nowhere, Tor lays a philosophical gem on us: “Speaking is silver and silence is gold.” Now I feel guilty about continuing this recap. Ah well — no one’s going to click on a blank blog.

After a break, we see Team Jones shadowboxing. At night. In the backyard of the house. Huh?

“Josh … thinks he’s coach,” says Dylan Andrews. Funny how each team has a complaining Englishman.

Adam Cella: “Josh is the guy I call ‘dad’ here.” We see him lecturing people on their diets. And the proper way to cut onions. Dude, everyone has a different way of cutting onions. I had a relative once tell me my girlfriend was doing it wrong.

Josh recounts his first tryout for TUF. He wound up with a blood clot and went in for surgery. Right before getting the anesthetic, the doctor tells him when he wakes up, he might feel a little dizzy. No, wait — they tell Josh might have only one leg. That’s a little more serious.

More about Josh: He was academically gifted and not allowed to do anything violent (football, playing with guns, etc.).

Oh wait, we’re not done with Hall and Barnatt. Gilbert Smith asks people who they want to fight, and Hall says “Biggs.” That’s apparently Barnatt, not the guy from Tatooine who died in the attack on the Death Star. Barnatt wonders who would say he’s ready to fight a teammate before the prelims are even done. Kevin Casey doesn’t like that.

Maybe that’s what Hall means with this tweet:

So Hall goes and hangs out with Team Jones. Smith starts recruiting him for the team, then badgering him about calling out Barnatt. Hall says he was joking. But it was the truth. But he shouldn’t have said it. Now Hall wants to talk about something else. Someone offers up a little comment about an upcoming field trip to a casino.

Then suddenly (at least according to the edit monster), Hall asks Cella if his girlfriend is a bitch like him. That requires some explaining.

Maybe that’s what Hall means with this tweet:

The next morning, Hall is reliving the conversation for Bubba McDaniel. He wants to get away from it, so he goes jogging through some leaves on a beautiful fall landscape, passing by a gazebo … wait, where the hell is he?!

Everyone goes bowling at the Red Rock. Fights are on big screens. Everyone’s having fun. Jones starts giving the usual interview about relaxing when Sonnen videobombs him, jumping into the camera frame. He challenges Jones to a three-frame bowling match in which the loser has to wear the winner’s shirt through a training session.

Sonnen: “I am not a bowler but I know HOW to bowl. … This isn’t rocket science.”

It’s far more entertaining than the Hughes-Serra coaches’ challenge, which took place at the same venue. But Jones still runs off a la Hughes after a close loss.

Fight day, and someone has drawn a “Thor Smash!” cartoon, reminding us all to pay tribute to the “Tour day schmalz,” the excellent Tour de France recaps at

Sonnen tells Tor that he’d be thrilled if this fight exposes some holes in the Swede’s game. Then they could work on them and get him back in the wild card. Um … thanks, coach?

Josh said his experience was the reason he gravitated toward a leadership role. The tale of the tape tells us Tor has 20 fights to Josh’s 11.

It’s not a bad fight. Josh, wearing shorts not quite as tight as Colton Smith’s but in the neighborhood, trades positions with Tor several times. Tor ends up on top on the ground, but with Frank Mir yelling instructions, Josh scrambles out and lands several punches while they’re at an awkward angle. They stand, and Josh lands a massive knee to the body. After another exchange, Tor starts backpedaling across the cage. Josh lands a good body kick, Tor drops his hands, and Josh lands a massive 1-2 combo to the head. Tor falls instantly, and Herb Dean races in to pull Josh away. Might be KO of the season if not for Hall’s stunner.

Jones gets to pick. His last two fighters are top pick Clint Hester and last pick Dylan Andrews. He sends out Hester vs. Jimmy Quinlan. Sonnen is surprised, hailing Quinlan’s grappling skills against Hester’s boxing.

That only leaves two more fighters. They don’t say so, but the last match of this round, barring injury, has to be Andrews vs. Zak Cummings.

Scenes from next week: Josh Sannan’s leg acts up and sends him to the hospital, and the guys get a night on the town. At Hooters. Seriously? What, they spend all the production money on the new cameras?

The Ultimate Fighter 17, Episode 4: Rap, rap, rippety rap …

Maybe we shouldn’t pick on Kevin Casey, the fighter/rapper who finagles an easy matchup in which he’ll take no damage and then proceeds to spend most of the fight on his back doing nothing of interest. He’s clearly quick-witted and thoughtful. He easily wins the rap battle in the house, and his video isn’t that bad:

But if you keep chanting “Never surrender, no retreat, God, way of life, etc.” in your video, shouldn’t you … back it up? With something?

Here’s how the episode unfolded …

Adam Cella returns from his KO in a hospital gown and seeks out Uriah Hall. The fact that he’s in the shower doesn’t keep him from stepping in to mess around with Hall, who seems relieved and genuinely happy that Cella’s up and joking around. Though maybe a little nervous to be standing naked behind a shower curtain.

Moving ahead: Kevin Casey rationalizes his decision to take Collin Hart instead of Bubba or someone else, saying he came in with an eye injury and wants to avoid taking more damage. Meanwhile, Bubba pumps up Collin with some confident talk.

Hart’s backstory is typical: Fought a lot in elementary school, got suspended a lot. If we improve public education in the USA, will our pool of MMA fighters decline?

Casey apparently has rap videos online. See above.

Gilbert Smith throws it down, and we have a rap battle in the house. It’s not bad. More rappers need a sense of humor like this. The housemates enjoy it, too.

Before you start to think Casey is just a funny rap dude ducking Bubba, we get his backstory. Casey studied with some Gracies and vowed to keep going in MMA after Rockson Gracie’s death.

Now a TUF first: The power went out! But all the camera crews still have power, so we get a little toilet paper prank from Team Sonnen. It doesn’t go well, by Team Sonnen’s admission. Hart is still angry because they had set a rule of not messing with each other’s sleep. Hart’s weight cut may also be making him a bit irritable.

Josh Samman says he would bet his house on Hart. Then Hart flips off Casey at the weigh-in. Hall: “Nobody saw that coming.”

Back at the house, Collin struggles at first to explain the middle finger. He then pegs it to his interrupted sleep. Casey gives a little bit of a lecture on professionalism, saying older fighters (Casey’s 31) sometimes need to remind younger fighters (Hart’s 22) of their responsibilities. Hart doesn’t reply, except in confessional, where he’s still mad about his interrupted sleep.

Fight time: Hart immediately rushes Casey and takes him down, landing in half-guard. Casey improves to full guard and ties him up. Casey stands and clinches, and the fighters demonstrate why the IOC got bored with Greco-Roman wrestling. Yell “knees” all you want — this is still boring as hell.

Round 2: Casey comes out swinging. Hard. Hart clinches, and somehow, Casey’s face starts spurting blood. Head butt? After a struggle, Hart takes him down in half-guard, then briefly gets side control. Then nothing. What does a guy have to do to get Herb Dean to stand ’em up?

Decision time: Hart wins unanimously.

Jones says the fight went perfectly. Sonnen says Casey settled into a position and waited for a mistake that never came. Dana White noticed that Casey did very little after his two offensive flurries, like “he didn’t even try to win this fight.” Sonnen is blunt, too: “Kevin Casey never showed up.”

Hart apologizes to Sonnen for the finger, saying he meant no disrespect. Sonnen doesn’t really care.

Then Hart gets on a treadmill. They weren’t kidding about his cardio. Dude’s a serious athlete.

Fight announcement. Jones has regained control. Will he blunder again, as he did in Episode 1?

He picks Bubba, as hinted earlier, against Kelvin. Who? Has this dude been on camera at any point this season? Let’s check the Episode 1 recap … he didn’t even say much in that one.

Ah … Sonnen reminds us he’s the youngest fighter in the history of the tournament. Sonnen says Bubba’s the favorite but that Kelvin can push the pace. Let’s hope so.

The Ultimate Fighter 17, Episode 3: Second-biggest KO in TUF history

Given all the hype about the knockout we know will take place at the end of the episode, it’ll be a challenge to keep us interested for the first 45 minutes.

Frank Mir somehow thinks Sonnen blundered by picking Team Jones’s Adam Cella to take on wonderstud Uriah Hall.

Team Sonnen is still ticked that Bubba McDaniel tried to call out Kevin “The King” Casey. Looks like Casey has some sort of cut, so they think it’s weak to try to get the injured guy to fight right away.

But a little later in the episode, in an uncomfortable van ride, Kevin admits to the rest of Team Sonnen that he doesn’t want to fight Bubba right away. Jimmy Quinlan thinks that’s a little wimpy. Casey, as he did in arguing with Bubba, keeps smiling but firmly refutes that notion.

Then we have the most innocuous trigger of a feud in TUF history. Even Uriah Hall, the only person actively feuding, seems to realize it’s silly.

Hall mentioned that someone was a “professional cooker.” Josh Samman said, “You mean chef?” Hall somehow ties it back to being bullied after moving to the USA with a thick Jamaican accent. This is a dude who’s going to have to lose a few chips on his shoulder before he gets married.

Over to Sonnen, who says Hall’s the best. Most talented, hardest worker, etc. But he could always beat himself up. He wants to win every competition in training. When Kevin Casey gets him in an armbar, he wants to roll with Casey again, right away.

Back to Cella, who refreshingly gives the opposite of the “I have to win to feed my family and avoid jail” speech, saying he can always go back to work for his parents’ heating and cooling company. Later, Hall indirectly answers him, saying he also has nothing to lose.

Jones warns Cella that Hall has broken an arm with kicks before, so if Hall starts throwing kicks, get him down and throw elbows. Jones say he has thrown so many elbows that he knows the human skull in vivid detail. He also knows not to throw 12-to-6 elbows, which led to a DQ and his only “loss” so far.

Back to Sonnen’s training: It’s offense, offense, offense.

Then comes one of the remarkable coaching conversations ever seen on TUF. Hall tells Sonnen he has some confidence issues in the past. Sonnen smugly says he could anticipate everything Hall was about to say, then opens up about his past problems, including his uncanny ability to lose by submission in the second round. He treated it “like an alcoholic” by confessing that he had a problem and seeking help from a sports psychologist and from Randy Couture. What he learned is that you can never get rid of that doubt, but you have to plow through it. “I can’t kill this off. I’ve gotta compete with it.”

Sonnen pontificates further: “Failure is always there, and it’s OK to recognize that.” If Sonnen hadn’t pleaded guilty to money laundering and stretched the truth about so many things in his fighting career, he’d be the best source of advice in the UFC.

Jon Jones and his dog stop by the house to visit with the team. They chat about what it would mean to make it in the UFC. Adam wants to prove something to those who thought fighting was a silly thing for him to do. Bubba wants to set an example for his kids. Dylan, the New Zealander, wants to do it for his brothers, a talented rugby player and talented musician who sank their careers with drugs. The last story gets to Jones, whose brothers have been remarkably successful.

On to the fight. We’ve been promised a stunning knockout, and it’s clear it would be a colossal upset if Cella did it.

For all the talk of Team Sonnen pushing the attack, Cella is the one initiating the early action, getting inside and setting up an active guard. Hall looks strong but whiffs with a wild spinning kick, and he doesn’t respond when Sonnen implores him to jab. Someone yells “Your second knockdown” when Cella falls from a Hall kick, but it’s really just a loss of balance. Hall looks strong and dangerous, but Cella is pushing the fight forward and more than holding his …


You’ve probably seen it by now. With less than 10 seconds in the round, Hall spins and lands his foot cleanly on Cella’s head. Hall celebrates for a second or two at most before realizing the whole gym is quiet. He looks down at the glassy-eyed, loud-breathing Cella with a look of shock and concern. “I’m sorry, Adam,” he says while the medical crew attends to Cella. Sonnen calls him over to the side. Dana White, whose reaction and bleeps were captured right away, has already paced partway around the cage and looks frightened.

After the ad break, Cella sits up. Applause. He answers a couple of questions. Applause. He stands. Applause. He recognizes Uriah but says he doesn’t remember anything.

Is it indeed the most brutal, shocking knockout in UFC history, let alone TUF history?

Instant one-kick knockouts aren’t that rare. Anderson Silva did it to Vitor Belfort. Gabriel Gonzaga did it to Mirko Cro Cop. Going back a ways, Shonie Carter’s spinning back fist took out Matt Serra. Brodie Farber fell harder from Rory Markham’s kick.

The TUF gym and cameras can capture more of the impact of a knockout. There’s no crowd to cover up the conversations between fighter and doctors. The other fighters in the gym go quiet when they realize someone is actually hurt.

So we can’t have this conversation without remembering Matt Riddle’s KO of Dan Simmler on the TUF 7 prelims. Simmler made an eerie moaning noise for a while. When he went back to the dressing room, he had no idea what happened, where he was or pretty much anything about his current circumstances. He was surprised to see coach Rampage Jackson. And he had a broken jaw.

By comparison, Cella recovered quickly and seemed to know everything except the circumstances of the knockout, which isn’t unusual.

Given that, we’d have to say Riddle’s knockout is still the most devastating in TUF history. But I don’t think anyone’s rooting for anything worse. Hall’s knockout is about as close as we’d want to see.

Fight announcement time, and Jones is absent, at the hospital with Cella. Sonnen picks … Kevin Casey! And he’s fighting … Collin Hart? Who?

Sonnen says Bubba was considered, and that he thinks that fight will happen, just not yet. Given that the only way that could happen would be for Bubba and Kevin to win their fights (or be wild cards), let the record show that Sonnen has predicted a win for Team Jones.

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.

The Ultimate Fighter 17, episode 1: Sonnen-chanted evening …

Funny: I Googled “sonnen chanted” to see if anyone else had used that, and Google asked me if I meant “sonnen cheated.”

Yes, it’s The Ultimate Fighter‘s 17th season, in which we’ll see if a move to Tuesday nights can re-invigorate the ratings.

First, let’s clear up one misconception: Season 16 was not the worst season of the show. Last season’s fighters were interesting, at least until they got into the cage. Season 13 is still the worst by far — boring fights, boring fighters, boring coaches.

So this season, they’ve re-branded. The intro talks about the tough tournament (Bellator execs surely aren’t amused — they somehow wrangled ad time near the end of this two-hour show and tossed out their “toughest tournament in sports” mantra) and the atmosphere, as if re-introducing the series to viewers. The photography is more cinematic in nature, like a 30-for-30 documentary rather than TUF. The graphics, aside from the TUF logo itself, are redesigned, bold and spare. Dana White looks like he’s speaking into the camera from The Blair Witch Project.

And Chael Sonnen is here, figuring he might at least be able to win a war of words with Jon Jones even if he has no chance in his  undeserved title shot. (I still like the idea of having Sonnen coach against and then fight Forrest Griffin, leaving Jones free to fight an actual light heavyweight contender like Dan Henderson, Alexander Gustafsson or pretty much anyone who has actually won a fight at 205 pounds at a level above Gladiator Challenge.)

One more complaint about this season: The 14-man, single-class tournament with a prelim round and a wild-card bout is the dumbest format this show has ever used. It’s far smarter to use a “wild card” to bring back a talented fighter (maybe Costa Philippou, Che Mills or Ryan Jimmo, to name three fighters the show lost) who loses in the prelims. As it stands now, a fighter can win the prelim, lose in the first round, win the wild-card bout, win the quarterfinal and then step in for his fifth fight in a few weeks. Might as well go back to the UFC 1 format and just have these dudes fight three times in one night.

But I’m writing a book about The Ultimate Fighter, I’m a professional, and I still like this show. Like Saturday Night Live, it’s worth sitting through the low points to see the high points. So off we go (bios at Sherdog and the official TUF site) …

We start at Palace Station casino, as if thumbing our noses at UNITE HERE, the labor group that has taken its dispute with the UFC-owning Fertitta brothers to anti-MMA advocacy. Some lawmakers in New York actually seem to think their objections are related to MMA, making them either gullible or dishonest.

Another change: Family members will be there for the eliminations. Before the show is done, we’ll meet many of them. Some will be in the hotel rooms sharing last-minute bits of inspiration. Some will be cheering for their kids like it’s a Little League game, and the kids won’t get ice cream if they lose. Some will get camera time like A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend.

But we still have our pre-fight coaching awkwardness, with Sonnen and Jones left alone in a room. Except for the camera crew. Sonnen yaps. Jones says little. I think we’ve set a tone.

Fortunately, things get moving in a hurry …


Jake Heun (3-2): Lots of friends in his hotel room and the gym. He says on his bio he used to drop Chris Leben in practice.

Adam Cella (4-0): Says he used to be 250 pounds, but then he saw a fight and decided to get in shape. Girlfriend gets screen time.

Heun slips on a kick and looks awkward. He gets Cella down, but Cella grabs the arm and flips to get the armbar. Winner: Adam Cella, armbar, first round


Zak Cummings (15-3): Took Ryan Jimmo to five rounds, which isn’t bad.

Nik Fekete (5-1): Michigan State wrestler, like Gray Maynard and Rashad Evans. Camera crew went to his house, another TUF novelty.

Dana’s excited, the coaches are excited, and we … oh, it’s over. Fekete threw a kick and left his hand down, as Sonnen neatly dissects for us afterwards. Cummings lands one punch, and down goes Fekete. It’s stopped quickly, and Fekete is grappling with invisible opponents as he comes to. Didn’t see an exact count, but it’s less than 10 seconds, easily. Winner: Zak Cummings, TKO, first round


Eldon Sproat (3-1): He’s from Hawaii and does rodeo. Didn’t mention that on his bio, which will provide 10 seconds of dull reading. He never had a silver platter to eat off of. Maybe that should be the bonus instead of a Harley.

Kevin Casey (5-2): Dude has already fought Matt Lindland? Best friend was Rickson Gracie’s son. Mom is emotional.

Another TUF novelty: After 2-3 seconds, we go to some stylized slo-mo highlights. Casey gets cut over his eye, dripping blood all over, but he’s the far superior grappler. Winner: Kevin Casey, rear naked choke, round unknown


Scott Rosa (4-1): Dana’s amused by his prefight show of shadowboxing for every camera on the premises but impressed that he knocked out James Irvin. He also fought Jan. 18, so we’ll guess he doesn’t win here.

Tor Troeng (15-4-1): Swedish academic’s son who looks at MMA as another problem to solve. Fourth fight was a main event against Mamed Khalidov, so some European promoters must think highly of him.

Highlights only — yeah, Troeng solved that problem. Winner: Tor Troeng, rear naked choke, round unknown


Clint Hester (7-3): From Georgia!

Fraser Opie (10-5): Sounds like a 70s sitcom character, doesn’t he? Actually from South Africa.

Hester has a boxing background and lands a hard body blow, then wows the coaches with his grappling, including a big slam. Jones likes him a lot and is already coaching him during the fight. Winner: Clint Hester, unanimous decision

Any thoughts about going to the TUF house, Clint? Yeah, he compares it to federal prison, though he points out he’s never been there.


Ryan Bigler (9-3): Another fighter to make his way from Guam to TUF. He has a buddy in his hotel room reading an inspirational quote and then mangling the name “Churchill.”

Robert “Bubba” McDaniel (20-6): 26 fights? And he fights for Greg Jackson, where he has often been in camp with one Jon Jones. He weeps after a long hug with his sister.

Bubba’s wrestling and Jones’ coaching carry the day. A man with a huge beard is very happy. No, it’s not Roy Nelson. Winner: Bubba McDaniel, TKO, second round


Josh Samman (9-2): Beat Chris Cope. We meet him in his hotel room making out with his girlfriend. Wait, is this Cinemax?

Leo Bercier (7-2-1): Native American, talks about the miserable life on the reservation. Press release says he’s fighting Feb. 15 in Maximum FC, which could bode ill for his chances in the prelims.

Samman takes Bercier down and takes the women’s tennis approach to ground-and-pound, going “Hyuhn!” with every punch. Bercier has no defense whatsoever, and Dana and Jones get a little impatient waiting for Samman to finish it. Winner: Josh Samman, TKO, first round

Sonnen chases after Samman to congratulate him. Jones and Dana smirk, thinking he’s “politicking.” I’m guessing it went like this ..

Hey, great fight. Listen — can you help me with this “pound thing? I have the “ground” part down — I had Anderson Silva on his back for 23 minutes. But then he just submitted me like it was a white-belt grappling contest …


Kito Andrews (9-2): Team Alpha Male fighter. We see him with his kids, of whom he just won custody. They cling to him while he tells them to be good kids while he’s gone. He grew up on food stamps, powdered milk and Spam. Even Danny Downes can’t find a way to be snarky about this. We’re going to have to save the snark-offs for Episode 2, when these guys start acting like idiots in the house. (Well, Dana finds a way, saying Andrews must be used to fighting because he’s divorced.)

Kelvin Gastelum (4-0): He’s a bail bondsman and the youngest fighter in TUF history, Dana tells us, at age 21.

Highlights only: Kito’s son gets some interview time, saying Kito has always wanted to be on the show. Kito lands good body shots, but Kelvin does better in Round 2. Sonnen says it was close, but Kelvin wins. We see Kito’s sons react in disappointment. They go over to tell him they’re still proud of him. What a nice family. Seriously. I’m thinking of starting a business so I can hire this guy and coach his kids in soccer. Winner: Kelvin Gastelum, decision


Jimmy Quinlan (3-0): Wrestler and jiu-jitsu guy.

Mike Persons (3-0): From Stockton, like the Diazes (not that they’re mentioned), and he works at his friend Steve’s store. Seriously, that’s pretty much all they say about him.

Highlights only: Jimmy is a really good wrestler. So say Jones and Sonnen, and they should know. Like Jones and unlike Sonnen, he also does the “pound” part. This whole bit lasted about as long as an ad. Winner: Jimmy Quinlan, TKO, first round


Uriah Hall (7-2): Only losses are to Chris Weidman and Costa Philippou. That’s serious. From Jamaica via Queens, where he was getting teased a lot and went to a counselor who happened to have a martial arts place next door.

Andy Enz (3-0 — the show claims he’s 6-1): Hey, remember the “nap-jitsu” dude who tried to irritate people in the TUF 16 house? No? Well, anyway, Enz beat him.

They devote a bit more buildup to this one, so we get to see Hall’s pecs bounce in slow-motion. I’m not used to the slo-mo, and I’m not used to seeing the dads and granddads yelling at their kids like hockey parents.

As the fight starts, we cut away to Sonnen, who says he just wants fighters with heart and determination, because then we can find a way to get it done. First, apply to the Nevada commission for a therapeutic use exemption …

Hall lands serious strikes, get him down, gets back up, lands more serious strikes, etc. Enz is showing heart and determination, but he’s also getting his butt kicked. (Well, his head and body, to be more precise.) Hall looks like a middleweight Jon Jones — long-limbed and much quicker than his opponent. Enz manages a reverse into Hall’s guard, at least, and he narrowly slips out of a triangle just when it seemed his eyes were in the back of his head. Round 1 ends, and Sonnen stands to yell “Outstanding!” Yeah, it is.

We see more of Enz’s family yelling at him like he’s a soccer player who won’t get orange slices if he loses, and we’re into Round 2. Hall seems surprised Enz is still standing in front of him, and Hall ends up having to pull himself out of a submission or two. Sonnen likes Enz but says he “ran into a hammer known as Uriah Hall.” Winner: Uriah Hall, decision

Hall waits for Enz to finish hugging his family, then sportingly congratulates him.

See, Dana? This is why you do the wild card after the PRELIMS! You could have both these guys in the house!


Gilbert Smith (5-1): We start in his hotel room, where he tells his family he has resolved not to be afraid of his dreams.

Eric Wahlin (4-2): Lost his first two, won his next four. He says he doesn’t know how he’s been making his child-support payments, and his house is being taken away from him. Can we take up a collection?

Dana thinks Smith looks like Tyson. No, he looks nothing like Tyson Griffin. Oh, the other one? Yeah, maybe. They’re painting Smith as the overwhelming favorite, which often means we’re going in a different direction.

Not this time. Wahlin shows some submission skills, but Smith turns Wahlin’s head purple with an arm triangle. Dana thinks Wahlin may have been punching rather than tapping, but in Wahlin’s state of consciousness, no one really knows or cares. Winner: Gilbert Smith, arm triangle, first round


Nicholas Kohring (3-0): He’s 22. He has braces. He has that Millennial mumble. His fiancee has a Goth vibe. His mom talks a lot.

Luke Barnatt (5-0): Nearly two meters tall. That’s 6-foot-6. Quit a nice job to do MMA and says he’s forgotten what it was like to have money. He’s surprisingly not subtitled even with a thick Andy Ogle-style accent, but the producers must figure that if we can understand Kohring, we’ll understand anyone.

The coaches like Luke’s reach, but Nicholas shows a willingness to get inside and swing. We switch to highlights, and Luke ends the first round flipping Nicholas to the mat. That’s about it — Jones says Luke looks like “top 3.” Nicholas looks like another guy who could’ve deserved another shot. Winner: Luke Barnatt, decision


Dylan Andrews (15-4): Beat Shonie Carter in 2010. High school rugby player from New Zealand via Australia. Dana says he grew up in a “marijuana growhouse.” Again, no Diaz reference?

Tim Williams (7-1): “The South Jersey Strangler”? Dana: “He looks like he strangled a few people before he came here.” He has wild scars and close-cropped hair.

Andrews looks terrified of the Strangler, but as Williams charges, Andrew drops him. Strangler fights through it. Dana says if someone needs to be replaced, he may bring back the loser of this fight. Again, Dana … format!

Chael says it was close and could’ve gone to a third round, but … Winner: Dylan Andrews, decision


Collin Hart (4-1-1): Californian. Nicknamed “The Dick” to Dana’s amusement. All he does is sleep and train. And work. And go to bars.

Mike Jasper (5-0): Quarterback of a semipro football team, Dana says. Lots of green in his tattoos.

The slo-mo replay starts with a missed kick. Jones says it’s an awesome fight and that Collin’s dirty boxing reminds him of Randy Couture. Before you have time to think this is going to be dull, Hart drags Jasper to the ground and gets the tap. Winner: Collin Hart, rear naked choke, first round

And we’re not done. Coin toss, Sonnen wins, picks first fighter … the bloody Luke Barnatt. Sonnen says he picked him based on conditioning.

Jones answers with Clint Hester.

Sonnen: Uriah Hall (says he likes Jones, but things happen for a reason)
Jones: Josh Samman

Sonnen: Zak Cummings
Jones: Bubba McDaniels

Sonnen: Tor Troeng
Jones: Gilbert Smith (he says he was sending a message “Pick me, pick me,” and Jones must’ve picked it up.)

Sonnen: Jimmy Quinlan
Jones: Collin Hart

Sonnen: Kevin Casey
Jones: Adam Cella

Sonnen: Kelvin Gastelum
Jones: Dylan Andrews, who gets the “last pick” ribbing but says he gets to fly under the radar.

We still have eight minutes left in this episode. Fighters on Team Jones, led by Josh, already have an idea of who they want to fight and in which order.

The fight announcement … after a Bellator ad … is Gilbert vs. Luke. What?

Josh isn’t happy. He says Team Jones can’t sweep the fights if they lose the first one. Check out the big brains on Josh.

But Josh is right. That’s a dumb, dumb strategy. You want to boost morale by taking out the other team’s top pick? OK, but when you lose, you give up control. And the other guy had first pick.

Sonnen rhymes for a bit and makes some speech about fists instead of emotions. But the ace card they’re holding is a big-time knockout, which Dana says is one of the nastiest he has seen in the sport. We see someone loaded into an ambulance.

A seriously injured fighter and Chael Sonnen? Don’t show this to the New York legislature. But the rest of us should be intrigued.