In last night’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter, teams were picked, hearts were broken, underwear was shrink-wrapped, gallons of alcohol were consumed, and the first light-heavyweight got knocked out of contention. Let’s get to it…
The show starts and Junie is drinking already. We get the first (ever?) glimpse of the TUF liquor closet, where quality is made up for with quantity. K-Sos, despite his intimidating appearance, is presented as one of the good guys of the house — a steak-sharer, not a street-fighter.
Brian McLaughlin and Karn Grigoryan, who sustained nose-fractures in their elimination matches, are slapped with 180-day suspensions from the NSAC and are ordered to go home. They hang around the gym in shock until Dana breaks the silence with “Go ‘head guys, you gotta walk out the door there.” Kyle Kingsbury, who looked sharp in his opening-round loss to Ryan Bader, is brought back to replace Grigoryan. Brian will be replaced by a mystery lightweight who flew home before he could be called back again.
Frank Mir wins the coin toss, and opts for first fighter pick. The picks shake out like this…
Mir: K-Sos, Vinny Magalhaes, Eliot Marshall, Tom Lawlor, Junie Browning, Shane Nelson, Dave Kaplan, George Roop
Nog: Ryan Bader, Shane Primm, Kyle Kingsbury, Jules Bruchez, Phillipe Nover, Efrain Escudero, John “Huggy Bear” Polakowski, Mr. X
We are introduced to Mir’s assistant coaches, Ken Hahn (striking) and Robert Drysdale (jiu-jitsu).
Alcoholism-wise, Junie Browning is like Chris Leben + Jesse Taylor x Arthur Bach. The night after the picks are made, he gets drunk and belligerent, threatening to jump off a balcony, ordering his teammates to whip him (“Call me Kunta Kinte!”), and already trashing the house. Inevitably, he passes out outside and starts crying. Previews for the next episode show that the situation is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better.
After much speculation, Roli Delgado shows up to replace Brian M. We are introduced to Team Nog’s assistant coaches, jiu-jitsu instructor Daniel Valverde, and Al “Stankie” Stankiewicz, an eccentric 67-year-old boxing coach with a knack for motivational speaking. (Prediction: Stankie will suffer a heart-attack during the show, leading to a “very special episode” of The Ultimate Fighter where Team Nog gathers around his hospital bed, and Stankie, his breath labored, tells the guys that they had what it takes to be Ultimate Fighters all along, and implores them to never stop chasing their dreams. The heart-rate monitor flatlines and Team Nog vows that from now on, they’ll “do it for Stankie.”)
Anyway, Nogueira has the first fight-pick, and selects his top gun Ryan Bader to take out Tom Lawlor.
K-Sos draws first blood in the TUF 8 prank wars. He orders an assload of shrink wrap and Team Mir goes about wrapping all of Bader’s stuff to the underside of his bed, and all of Team Nog’s underwear to the diving board outside. Wisely, he denies involvement when Bader starts asking questions.
The night before the fight, Nogueira and his coaches show up at the house to eat with their fighters. Nog shows great respect for their cooking: “If they won’t be a fighter, they can open a Hestaurant!” What is it with these goddamned Brazilians and their mispronunciation of R’s? Junie is clearly jealous of Team Nogueira’s family dynamic: “They’re gay as hell.”
Speaking of gay as hell, Tom Lawlor repeatedly disses Ryan Bader’s pretty, shiny hair. This from a guy who looks like a half-homo Heath Herring.
So it’s fight time. Lawlor looks good at first, easily stuffing two of Bader’s shots. But Bader eventually gets the takedown and works him for a bit in half-guard. Lawlor escapes, Bader almost sets up a guillotine, and they’re back on their feet. After an exchange of knees in the clinch, Bader gets another takedown and lands some punches from Lawlor’s guard. Lawlor puts his feet on Bader’s hips and pushes off, which allows Bader to get some distance and throw down a huge punch that knocks Lawlor out cold. Boom — Team Nog is up 1-0, and Stankie is fired up.
In scenes from the next episode, we see Shane Nelson try to bait Efrain Escudero into a fight, and Junie try to bait everyone into a fight. Dana White shows up to lay down the law: “You guys probably watched every season, go look at these idiots. Now you’re those fucking idiots.”