By Elias Cepeda
The first episode of The Ultimate Fighter season 18 begins with Ronda Rousey finding out that she will be coaching against Meisha Tate instead of Cat Zingano. She isn’t very happy. In fact, she loses her shit, storms around the TUF gym after Meisha walks in and surprises her, looking for Dana White so he can explain.
When he does, Rousey looks relieved. For some reason, she thought that seeing Tate there meant that she herself was being kicked off as a coach. Not sure why she’d assume that, but it just reaffirms that Rousey’s mind is a dark, scary place built to use everything it encounters as anger-inducing motivation. She’s a terrifying, awesome chick.
The reality sets in — Ronda will coach against Mr. and Mrs. Tate on TUF and will rematch Meisha when it’s all over. Rousey seems cool with it, finally, talking of destiny and broken limbs. This season, of course, will feature both men and women bantamweights vying for a UFC contract.
Thirty-two fighters, sixteen of each gender, have been invited to Vegas and will fight their way into the TUF house. First up, is the obligatory former female model turned fighter Jessamyn Duke out of Kentucky winning by triangle choke. The Invicta vet is 5’11 and somehow makes 135 pounds. Nuts.
Next up, David Grant from Britain faces Dominick Cruz’s teammate Danny Martinez. Martinez is desperate for the take down from the get-go. While defending a takedown against the fence, Grant throws a downward elbow to Martinez’ spine and has a point deducted.
Martinez finally gets a takedown near the end of the round but Grant immediately works a triangle choke. Time runs out and Martinez is saved by the bell. The second round starts and Martinez looks gassed.
Grant knocks Martinez down with a punch, then transitions to his back and, as Martinez gets up, Grant knees him to what he believes is the shoulder but what referee Herb Dean calls as an illegal knee to the head. Another point is deducted.