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The TUF 20 Checklist, Episode 1: A Loaded Bracket, An Early Upset, And the Coin That REFUSED TO DIE


(Here’s what the TUF 20 bracket looks like after episode 1; click image for full size version. Team Pettis is in green, Team Melendez is in purple. Props: Reddit MMA)

Last night’s premiere episode of The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned ended with Invicta FC standout Tecia Torres losing in a major upset, when she dropped a three-round decision to the relatively unheralded Randa Markos. If you think that’s a “spoiler” because you haven’t watched the episode yet, well, now you know how the rest of us feel. Due to some epic screw-ups by the UFC production team, the Torres/Markos result was briefly revealed on the broadcast before the fight had even aired, and UFC.com posted an episode recap while the show was still going on. Those are spoilers, my friends.

But all that weirdness aside, TUF 20 episode 1 was a highly satisfying two hours — and not just because the CagePotato logo appeared on the broadcast several times (!) in footage from Rose Namajunas’s Invicta fights. In an interesting change of format, the 16 strawweight competitors were given seeding-numbers based on their rank in the division, and placed into a bracket; #1-ranked Carla Esparza will fight #16-ranked Angela Hill, #2-ranked Joanne Calderwood will fight #15-ranked Emily Kagan, and so on. Coaches Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez still got to pick their teams based on which fighters they liked best after an evaluation session — and they’ll still decide the order of the fights — but they weren’t given the seed-numbers beforehand. It worked out like this…

Instead of giving you a scene-by-scene rundown of everything that happened on the show, we’d like to debut the TUF 20 Checklist, which will hopefully hit the major themes that you’ll be seeing each week. Here we go…

Did the “ladies bring it” in the episode’s fight?: Yeah, they absolutely did. Tecia Torres dominated the first round against Randa Markos, battering the Iraqi-Canadian with her trademark side-kick and some painful-looking oblique kicks. (Torres was also aided by Herb Dean’s less-than-stellar officiating.) When Markos tried to take the fight to the ground, Torres wouldn’t let her. But Markos came alive in the second frame, eventually dragging Torres to the mat and smashing her with ground-and-pound. It was clear that both women were fading during the sudden victory round, but once again, Markos managed to score a takedown late in the round, and held Torres on her back until the final horn, which was enough to earn her the nod from all three judges. It was a truly gutsy performance from Markos, who we figured didn’t have a chance in this one.

Most absurd Dana White exaggeration (tie):
- “It’s the most important season we’ve ever done.” I think he meant “with the obvious exception of season 1.”
- “One of these girls is literally gonna become one of the biggest stars in the world.” Oh man. Demetrious Johnson is ten pounds heavier and has a penis, and he still can’t get over with fans.

Best tease of a scene from a future episode: At some point in the season, Dana White will have to console a crying “Rowdy” Bec Rawlings in a back room at the TUF gym. That usually means “injury,” but we’ll see. Poor Rowdy Bec. Also, one of the women passes out during a weight cut at one point.

Scariest quote: “Those women are my food.” — Angela Magana. Holy shit. Take this thing back to Baltimore! Thug Rose gets an honorable mention for her speech about how she enjoys hurting people.

Variations of “I’m not here to make friends“: One, from Torres.

Gratuitous Felice Herrig ass-shots: Two. One during her get-to-know-you profile in the beginning of the show, and one where she’s just hanging out at the house.

Best non-dramatic moment played up for drama:

#TheStruggle alert: My God, Angela Hill’s phone. Can we set up a Kickstarter for her or something?

Next week’s fight: Joanne Calderwood vs. Emily Kagan.

Longshot prediction: Calling it now — TUF 20 is the season where they bring back the Scarecrow Challenge.

-BG

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