You’d think that Jon Jones would understand the importance of having a tremendous reach advantage, considering it’s one of the key elements of his own success in the UFC. But I’ve already said too much. Read on for our quick breakdown of the best and worst moments from last night’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter 17: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen, which produced the season’s first middleweight quarterfinalist.
- The sheer glee on the faces of the castmembers as they enter the TUF mansion for the first time, especially the ones who are used to living a much more humble lifestyle. Not a single one of them goes straight to the booze closet and starts breaking shit. Luke Barnatt is just thankful for six weeks of free food. The house is “astronomically extraordinary,” according to Gilbert Smith. Enjoy it guys, because that beautiful house will soon become…YOUR PRISON.
- Sonnen wearing wind-pants to every appearance in the gym — gotta love it — and the familiar faces among the assistant coaching staff, including Frank Mir (Team Jones), Vinny Magalhaes (Team Sonnen) and Mike Dolce (Team Sonnen).
- Uriah Hall telling Sonnen he wants to fight the best guys in the house, after Sonnen makes it known that he’d like Hall to get an easy road to the finals. Hall’s attitude is a refreshing contrast to Bubba McDaniel, who is fixated on getting the matchups that would give him the best chance of advancing in the tournament, and spends the first half of the episode lamenting how the Smith vs. Barnatt selection puts Team Jones at risk for losing control of the picks.
- The fight between Gilbert Smith and Luke Barnatt, which Barnatt wins by knockout (flying knee to the head) in round 2. Up until the stoppage, it was a closely-pitched battle, with both men showing off their skills in wrestling and transitions. Unfortunately, Smith’s cardio became a liability later in the fight.
- The general lack of support that Gilbert Smith got from his teammates and coaches before the fight, which filled Smith with self-doubt, which led to McDaniel and others calling him out as mentally weak behind his back, then “ambushing” him with their concerns in the locker room. So much for team spirit.
- Jon Jones’s pissed-off reaction to the fight’s result, and his criticism of Smith’s performance, particularly his cardio — as if Jones didn’t have the option to pick a guy who was in better shape and could have better dealt with Barnatt’s length. Look dude, you picked the damn matchup. It would have been nice to hear Jones take some of the responsibility. And hey, reach wins fights. What a concept.
- The nine-inch height difference between Smith and Barnatt during the face-off. Jee. Zuss.
- Bubba McDaniel starting shit with Kevin Casey after the fight, in a desperate (and failed) attempt to influence the next matchup. Sonnen instead selects his #2 pick Uriah Hall to go up against Team Jones’s #6 pick Adam Cella.
As we see in the promo for the next episode, Hall vs. Cella results in one of the most violent knockouts in TUF history.
Luke Barnatt – quarterfinalist, defeated Gilbert Smith
Robert “Bubba” McDaniel