Following his shocking upset loss to Kelvin Gastelum last week, Bubba McDaniel emerged a much humbler man in the opening moments of yesterday’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Jones vs. Sonnen. With Team Sonnen now back in control of the fight selections, this week’s matchup pitted highly-touted Swede Tor Troeng against Team Jones’ #2 pick and self-appointed captain Josh Samman. Was Samman able to overcome his nagging injuries and regain control for Team Jones, or did Troeng notch “another win for the bad guys?” Check out the entirety of last night’s episode above and join us after the jump for a full recap to find out.
- The episode kicks off with Jimmy Quinlan constructing a hammer for Tor (pronounced Thor. GET IT?). Although the prototype is laughably undersized, Quinlan showcases some MacGuyver-esque resourcefulness when building Troeng a life-sized model. If Josh Samman turns out to be less a human fighter and more a mole in need of whacking, he is pretty much screwed now.
- Speaking of Samman, say what you want about the arrogant, grating, “Dad”-like member of Team Jones, but there’s no denying that he has earned his place in the TUF house. Shortly before joining the cast, Samman underwent a surgery to remove a massive blood clot in his quadriceps that could have cost him his right leg. It’s a pretty harrowing story if you don’t happen to be Kyle Maynard (or Frank Mir, who is all “Yeah bro, cool story” upon hearing it). Samman also mentions something about violence being a taboo subject in his home as a child and credits his single mother and God-given physical gifts for putting him where he is today.
- On the opposite end of the spectrum, despite being a goddamn killing machine inside the ring, it turns out that Uriah Hall is kind of a headcase outside of it. First, he goes a little too hard when sparring with teammate Luke Barnatt. Then, he calls out Luke — again, a member of his own team — after Gilbert Smith asks him who he’d like to fight next. Then, in an almost shot-by-shot reenactment of his “professional cooker” spat with Samman in episode 4, Hall proceeds to get offended by another innocent comment during a fireside pow wow, this time from Adam Cella, and responds by attacking Cella’s girlfriend, Collin Hart’s “lay-n-pray” offense, and finally Josh Samman. Hall chalks up his sensitivity to the fact that he was bullied as a kid, but fails to realize that he is alienating pretty much everyone in the house by being such a defensive little bitch all the time.
- On the opposite opposite spectrum, no one seems to know a thing about Tor, mainly because he only speaks when spoken to and is too much of a gentleman to really push anyone’s buttons. The dude is basically a Glorious Sweater of Absolute Victory away from the finals is what we’re saying. Anyway, he informs us later that he has been training MMA in the Swedish countryside since he was 16 and now works part-time at a university. Moving on…
- The house is taken out for a night of bowling, and Sonnen uses the occasion to rope Jones into an unofficial coaches challenge of sorts: 3 frames, with the loser being forced to wear the winner’s team jersey to one of their own training sessions. Jones rocks a fancy skull bowling ball and Sonnen appears to select a five-pound ball from the kids racks. In perhaps the most intentionally funny moment of his career, Jones loses to Sonnen by two pins after rolling a 7-10 split (complete with a Brandi Chastain slide of greatness at the end), then immediately runs out of the room like a rejected middle school girl at a semi-formal. Or Scott Evil.
- After the weigh-ins, it’s fight time baby! In the locker room, Sonnen admits that he’d like to see at least one of Troeng’s holes exposed in the fight for the sole purpose of helping Tor improve upon it. Foreshadowing? Methinks so.
Herb Dean gets things started. After slipping on his opening kick, Samman bull-rushes forward and presses Troeng into the fence, only to be immediately reversed by the Swede. The two jockey for position against the cage for the next couple of minutes, with Tor landing a few knees to the body and Samman reversing position, before Samman botches a judo throw and winds up with Tor in his full guard. Troeng lands a couple decent shots before Samman is able to get back to his feet, where he lands a flurry of strikes of his own in the scramble. A couple good knees to the body in the clinch from Samman force Troeng to reverse the position.
Tor spins out of the clinch and as he does, Samman charges forward with a 1-2 combination that puts Tor’s lights out. A brutal finish for sure, and just one of many to already happen on the TUF 17 set. If the flashy production and lack of pretty much everything that plagued the last two seasons of TUF failed to get you into this season, then the fights surely have by this point.
With control back in his corner, Jones announces that next week’s matchup will be between his #1 pick, Clint Hester, and aforementioned hammer-builder Jimmy Quinlan. Sonnen immediately ponders why the hell Jones would throw Hester, a decorated boxer with a somewhat subpar ground game, against as decorated a wrestler as Quinlan. Based on Jones’ previous pairing, it’s safe to assume that maybe the champ isn’t quite a master strategist when his little Yoda isn’t around.
Tune in next week to find out whether Jones has shot himself in the foot again. Also on tap: a trip to the hospital for Josh Samman and a night of debauchery/shirt-tearing at a local Hooters establishment.
Luke Barnatt – quarterfinalist, defeated Gilbert Smith
Uriah Hall – quarterfinalist, defeated Adam Cella
Kelvin Gastelum – quarterfinalist, defeated Robert “Bubba” McDaniel
Josh Samman — quarterfinalist, defeated Tor Troeng
Robert “Bubba” McDaniel
Collin Hart – quarterfinalist, defeated Kevin Casey