Pranks and shenanigans were not only the norm in previous seasons, they often were the basis of many episodes and feuds. No matter how vulgar, no matter how personal the digs, it was always expected to be settled either in the cage or with an equally juvenile retort. This year, Dana White is doing everything in his power to make sure that the pranks don’t go too far. You can say he’s preserving the integrity of mixed martial arts or combating the stereotype that his athletes are overgrown frat boys, but I see it for what it is: Women be crazy and even he knows that the most minor slight could escalate into a full blown war.
Yo, Jessamyn Duke is f**ed up!
She still kinda hot though.
Duke and Raquel Pennington put on a hell of a fight last week and everyone is happy to have been a part of it. White gives Pennington a pep talk telling her that with her punching power she could win the whole show. Julianna Peña is listening from behind the bleachers watching them from the van and she gets all jelly. How dare he become invested in more than one contestant? Like, OMFG.
It’s Father’s Day and Ronda Rousey shows up at the house with gifts, including a shaving kit for Cody Bollinger, who isn’t even on her team. This should go a long way rehabilitating the poor image she’s constructed for herself on the show, though she does snub Plato and that’s just wrong.
Playing hard to get, I see...
A clean shaven Bollinger has an emotional moment, recounting the struggles and what he’s fighting for and how much he misses his kids and...you know what, it’s getting dusty in here. Can you help us out, Ronda?
Okay, I’ll admit it: That’s adorable.
Moving on to one of this week’s competitors, we discover that Josh Hill got his nickname from his granduncle, "Gentleman" Jerry Valiant, who along with Johnny Valiant held the then WWWF (now the WWE) tag team titles for 370 days. This is not to be confused with the current WWE tag team titles, which were created in 2002. You know, in case you were wondering.
Hill has got to be winning over the female fans with his tales of male modeling and humble attitude. I’ll just say it: he and Duke would make beautiful babies together. He came into the competition with no amateur fights and he’s gone undefeated as a pro. His segment ends with a shout-out to Hamilton, Ontario, so what’s not to like?
For one thing, both he and Michael Wootten were criticized for playing it safe in their elimination fights and doing just enough to get into the house. You wouldn’t be blamed for forgetting that Wootten exists since he’s barely been featured on the show. He’s the other British guy.
We’ll get back to Wootten later. First, there’s a silly prank and the incredibly awkward analogy that follows it. Miesha Tate and her team were watching DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story and the character of Fran (Missi Pyle) immediately made them consider a possible Ronda Rousey/Edmond Tarverdyan love child. They put up pictures of Fran all over the gym and White is forced to go and take them all down.
There’s no way Dana went to get this one.
Anthony Gutierrez finds one in the sauna and I’m sure the producers were dreadfully upset that it made its way to Team Rousey. It’s bad enough that Tarverdyan goes off to sulk, but Rousey loses her damn mind and deems the prank to be racist. The absurdity reaches new heights as she reaches for an analogy to slam Tate and promptly embarrasses herself. Poor Chris Beal is caught up in the crossfire when Rousey says the posters are akin to comparing Beal to Ashy Larry.
The f**k did you just say?
My two cents? It’s not racist and Tarverdyan just has terrible eyebrows.
Thankfully, Rousey redeems herself with her unique ground training. This particular session is dedicated to "scrunchies", which involves moving on the ground while keeping your arms and legs free to defend against attacks. It requires serious core strength and Rousey makes it look easy even as her charges struggle to keep up with her. I’m fairly certain that she does these things just to provide more animated gif and sex joke material for the internet. If that’s the case, mission accomplished. Rousey is making a comeback this week.
Her fighter, Wootten, finally gets his TV time and he makes the most of it with some solid quotes. He calls Rousey a "judo wizard or wizard-ess" and explains how he made it to where he is today.
Wootten: I got into MMA just by choice and then, you know, the next thing it spirals out of control and you’re on "The Ultimate Fighter".
Oh yeah, we’ve all been there, buddy. Rousey thinks Wootten is a cutey pie. She actually blushes when she’s talking about him, which is unnerving. Later, we get an artsy shot of Wootten being bothered by a fly as he’s sweating off some pounds.
Now he knows how Walter White feels.
Predictably, Wootten and his fellow Brit David Grant are friends from before the show. That almost seems like an unfair advantage, doesn’t it? They should make camp teammates fight each other in the elimination round. Not only would it guarantee that there’s none of this despicable collusion, but I’d thoroughly enjoy two close friends fighting to crush the other man’s dream because I’m sick like that.
Wootten is a big 135er, though someone remarks that he looks emaciated at the weigh-in. He’s 5’10", the same height as Georges St-Pierre and Daniel Cormier. That’s 4 inches taller than Hill. He needs a towel to step on the scale and we have our first nude of the season. Considering the circumstances, that is extremely disappointing. The towel is allowed to drop, much to the amusement of everyone in the gym. Wootten is quick to add that Rousey just saw his "weight cut penis", which I imagine is not unlike a frightened turtle.
In case you didn’t know, Hill is a wrestler. He goes for a takedown right off the bat and White can’t be happy. Seeing Wootten get picked up and walked over to Hill’s corner for a big slam might change his mind. As advertised, Hill’s top game is highly effective and he advances nicely. Wootten is calm, avoiding any significant damage and fighting out of a choke attempt. He can’t shake Hill. Say what you want about wrestling, but the Canadian dominates and takes the first round 10-9.
Tarverdyan tells Wootten that the last 10 seconds were good. That’s what we call emphasizing the positives. It must have worked, because Wootten looks sharp to start the second. Hill telegraphs a takedown and eats a knee. Wootten dives on top of him and does a lot of damage working from guard and half guard. This is a reverse of the first round as Wootten is in complete control. This is definitely getting another five minutes. Even Brittney Palmer knows it and White has to stop her from grabbing the final round card prematurely.
In the extra frame, the first takedown could be the difference. Hill drives hard and gets snuffed. Wootten fights off of the cage and somehow pulls Hill down. The cameras can’t get a great view, but it looks like Hill is getting away with some blatant fence grabbing. He’s clearly gassed and as the round winds down, he’s behind on the scorecards.
Knowing he has to land something big, Hill ends up giving us a new candidate for worst spinning back fist! He whiffs badly and gets planted right on his butt with a double leg. That seals the victory for Wootten, who gets the decision and a kiss from Ronda!
On a personal note, I’m sad to see that Canada is 0-2 so far. For a lot of fighters, this show is where they take their first career loss and even though it doesn’t count on their professional records, it has to come as somewhat of a shock to the system. Not only that, you’re surrounded by cameras that are there to record your every action and reaction. Even losers on PPV get to retreat to the locker room. Fall short on The Ultimate Fighter and you immediately have to answer to a million people.
Then again, win and who knows what could happen.