The eleventh season of TUF began like many others: With a bunch of tatted-up aspiring fighters checking out the gym, comparing their wild hairstyles, waiting for Dana. But there’s a twist, and it’s a big one. A sudden explosion by the Airdyne bikes interrupts the small-talk, and a banner rolls down the wall. It does not say The Ultimate Fighter. It says Tool Academy. Most of the guys understand what that means, and they’re pissed.
"I’m not a fucking tool, bro," says Nick Ring. "I’m a fighter. I have so much extra testosterone that I have to hole-out bar-skanks at least twice a week. I’m actually doing it for Tammy’s benefit, because if she was the only outlet for my passion, she would literally die, bro." We learn that Tammy is the mother of Ring’s twin daughters.
"When I find my girlfriend, I’m going to strangle that bitch," says Brad Tavares. "Uh, I mean I’m going to do whatever I can to rebuild the trust in our relationship."
Okay, so the real twist isn’t that shocking. Basically, instead of 32 fighters battling for 16 spots, it’s 28 fighting for 14; two eliminated fighters will be chosen by the coaches to fight for a final spot in the quarterfinals, after the round-of-14 is completed. DW shows up and implores the fighters to not leave their fights in the hands of the shitheaded judges. He’s pissed off just talking about it. "Don’t be that fuckin’ guy tomorrow." And then it’s just fights and fights and Chuck screwing with Tito and more fights.
Jamie Yager vs. Ben Stark
Yager is cocky, reps Pasadena, and has a huge afro. Stark is the guy who was “a practitioner of the Orthodox Jewish religion until the age of 6.” Yager’s kicks are nasty. He knocks Stark out with head kicks through Stark’s gloves. One would be tempted to describe Yager as "athletic and explosive."
Jordan Smith vs. Brad Tavares
Smith considers himself a wildman, a crazy person trying to act normal, yet he looks as soft as the lead singer of Vampire Weekend. Hawaiian Brad Tavares comes out strong and puts him out with a knee/right hook combo.
Cleburn Walker vs. Kris McCray
McCray ends the fight quickly with a judo toss that seems to dislocate Walker’s shoulder. McCray backflips off the cage in celebration. Savage, all day, gettin’ it in.
Norman Paraisy vs. James "The Sledge" Hammortree
When you have a last name as badass as "Hammortree," you really don’t need a cheesy pun-based nickname. But whatever. Paraisy is an ATT product and vows to change people’s outlook about French people. Obviously, he surrenders after the first round. John Hackleman and Howard Davis beg him to keep going, but whaddya gonna do, he’s French. Hammortree is so happy with the win that he hugs Herb Dean. The coaches are stunned. “That’s embarrassing,” says Chuck. “It’s amazing to me that a guy would do something like that. It’s like tapping to strikes — wait, I think Tito did that once.” Chuck needles Tito about it, but Tito doesn’t bite. Trash talk score: Chuck 1, Tito 0.
During an "Inside the Octagon" segment, Dana White claims that if Anderson Silva beats Demian Maia next week, he will have cleaned out the middleweight division except for Vitor Belfort. (Sorry, Chael.) Also, the winner of Quinton Jackson vs. Rashad Evans is next in line for a shot at the light-heavyweight belt.
The fights come faster now…
Nick "The Promise" Ring picks apart Woody Weatherby and finishes him by TKO. An impressive start for the man with the gayest nickname in MMA history.
Kyle Noke‘s elbows from the top open a gusher on Warren Thompson. It’s a bloody one-sided beating and Noke takes it via unanimous decision.
Court McGee comes out on top of a slugfest with Seth Baczynski. The fight goes to a sudden victory round after the first two end in a draw; McGee steals the final frame with his wrestling.
Chris Camozzi picks up a decision win over Victor O’Donnell in another three-rounder. O’Donnell leaves the gym on a stretcher with broken orbital.
Kyacey Uscola quickly drops Brent Cooper and finishes him on the ground.
Joseph "Leonidas" Henle pulls off a late armbar against Constantinos Philippou after getting beaten up for most of the fight.
Rich Attonito grinds out a unanimous decision against Lyle Steffens.
Josh Bryant edges out Greg Rebello via majority decision.
Charles Blanchard punches Jacen Flynn in the back of the head so many times that he goes temporarily blind. Could have been a DQ, but Blanchard is in the house.
Clayton McKinney defeats Charley Lynch via cartoonishly broken nose.
The coaches, Dana, and the fighters themselves are all impressed with the level of talent in the house. Scenes from future episodes show that the set’s cardboard doors have it particularly rough this year. What did you guys think? Any early favorites?