The tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter kicked off last night after UFC Fight Night 19, and thank God there are no members of the Browning family involved this time. We won’t bother recapping the first few minutes of the show, which you’ve already seen. Suffice it to say that the trash-talk between coaches Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans comes early and often. Fighter evaluations begin, with Greg Jackson helping Rashad determine who the mentally toughest fighters are by watching them hit heavy bags. James McSweeney and Brendan Schaub are actually teammates of Evans back in Albuquerque, and Rashad wants them on his TUF squad.
Rampage’s right-hand man during the show is Tiki Ghosn, who you may have seen in Danavlogs giving/receiving surprise slaps to the balls. Rampage thinks the guys need to spar and wrestle with each other to get an accurate sense of their skills. His verdict? "Roy Nelson has a big-ass belly. We checked him out, and he’s fat." Also, he starts calling Darrill Schoonover "titties." "Let’s see whatchu got, titties," he says. "Don’t bounce like that, you’ll distract me with them titties." Come on, man, gynecomastia is no laughing matter.
Interestingly, Kimbo Slice seems to handle Roy Nelson fairly easily in their sparring sessions, though Rampage notices that Kimbo’s ground skills are sub-par. Still, his takedown defense might make up for it.
After the workouts, Greg Jackson runs through the guys he likes, but Rashad already has his mind made up: He’s taking McSweeney first. "Alright, you’re the boss," says Greg, with a note of annoyance in his voice. (Doesn’t feel good to be the one taking orders, does it?) Rashad wins the coin toss and opts for first fighter-pick. The team selections go down like this:
Team Rashad: James McSweeney, Brendan Shaub, Justin Wren, Jon Madsen, Roy Nelson, Darrill "Titties" Schoonover, Matt Mitrione, Mike Wessel
Team Rampage: Kimbo Slice, Abe Wagner, Demico Rogers, Wes Sims, Scott Junk, Wes Shivers, Marcus Jones, Zak Jensen
Notes on the selections: Roy Nelson gets picked ninth overall? These guys must not have been IFL fans. It’s also a suprise that Marcus Jones, who’s by far the most physically imposing member of the cast, is picked 14th — though judging from his near-death during a cardio workout later in the show, that seems about right. Rampage tried to pick the cameraman before Zak Jensen. Wes Sims tells us: "I was the only man to defeat Frank Mir on two separate occasions. And I never let truth get in the way of a good story." Justin Wren wants to take out the "street king," Kimbo Slice. Matt Mitrione wants Marcus because his enormous head provides a big target.
With control of the first matchup, Rampage chooses his second pick, Abe Wagner, to go against Rashad’s fourth pick, Jon Madsen. It seems like Quinton is trying to exploit the size difference. Wagner towers over Madsen, who probably shouldn’t be competing at heavyweight. But Rashad approves of the choice: "You put my #1 wrestler against someone who doesn’t have any ground game at all. Thank you."
Madsen works out at H.I.T. with Robbie Lawler and Matt Hughes, but doesn’t have a lot of heavyweights to train with over there. His gameplan is to take Wagner down and work his ground-and-pound. Wagner is the director of finance and operations at "a fairly large company," so fighting’s not his whole life. He was a mechanical engineering major in college. To prove his intelligence, Rampage asks him what 10 times 2 is, and Wagner nails it. Wagner is also a nervous vomiter, something he does before every fight, including the one against Madsen.
And it’s time to throw down. From across the cage, Wagner asks Madsen if he wants to touch gloves when they come out, and Madsen doesn’t respond. "Touch his face with your fist," Rampage says. They touch gloves anyway.
Round 1: Madsen scores with a left hook and shoots for a takedown. The GnP starts immediately, with Wagner pressed against the fence. Wagner tries to lock Madsen’s body down, and Madsen gets in some shots to body. Wagner tries to set up a triangle choke from from the bottom, but Madsen escapes. Madsen starts landing bigger shots, and Wagner is bloodied. Madsen drops some elbows. The scene turns gory as a pool of blood accumulates under Wagner, pumping out of a nasty gash on his head. The bell finally saves him, and the Octagon looks like a crime scene.
Round 2: Madsen shoots and gets the takedown, but doesn’t do anything with his position so Steve Mazzagatti quickly stands them up. Madsen takes Wagner down again, and pretty much just rests on him. Wagner kicks him off, but Madsen gets right back on top. Another standup. Wagner lands a right hand, and yet another takedown. He swings weakly from the top, gassed. Mazzagatti stands ‘em. Madsen with another takedown, and he lays on top until the final horn. The scores are 20-16, 20-17, 20-17, all for Jon Madsen, who wins, but doesn’t look that impressive. Rashad disagrees: "You looked beautiful." Rampage doesn’t want to see his guys touch gloves with anybody from now on. 1-0, Team Rashad.
On the next episode: Kimbo tries to shore up his ground game, and Rashad chews out Big Country for screwing around.