From conversations I’ve had with people who watch the show, Miesha Tate is winning folks over. Ronda Rousey has never been the most warm and fuzzy personality, but as the "face of women’s MMA" (ugh) she was the most popular female fighter by default. The first two episodes have made Tate seem like that cool chick you wouldn’t mind having over for a few drinks, while Rousey is coming across like a vindictive hellcat that will melt your vinyl record collection if you cross her. Especially that LP of Rumours you had signed by Stevie Nicks.
As if beating Shayna Baszler wasn’t enough, Julianna Peña is rewarded with a well-deserved butterfat milkshake. When Tate brings it to the house, her winning fighter reacts like a 12 year old at a (insert current pop phenomenon here) concert. Her voice goes up a whole octave, it’s frightening. Tate plays the role of Miss Congeniality to a tee, also getting a chocolate cake for Baszler.
Tate: (to Baszler) I love you girl. I know it’s not your fault you had to be on Team Rousey. (laughs) I’m just kidding.
She’s not just kidding.
Even though Baszler is cool with Tate, she still defends Rousey explaining that the champ’s support after the loss meant a lot to her. Baszler has a cool descriptor: Submission Artist. Another good one is Chris Holdsworth with Currently Undefeated. I just want to remind everyone that Louis Fisette got LIVES WITH PARENTS.
It’s not all fun and games for Peña who is facing some Uriah Hall level scrutiny and dealing with it in much the same way he did, saying "to hell with" anyone in the house who doesn’t like her. Anthony Gutierrez says Peña is the only girl that bugs him, but it’s okay because she’s good looking. He’s got the right attitude. However, her insistence on speaking in a British accent is enough to push him over the edge and he rallies the others to convince her to quit it. This is the kind of conflict that makes you miss the days of the "upper decker".
Back in the gym, Rousey’s on fire! She breaks out the C-word (confident!) and makes a spirited effort to convince Chris Beal that Tate picking him because of his injury shows a lack of conviction on Tate’s part. That’s not entirely accurate, but it’s spirited nonetheless.
Over on the Tate side, there’s a budding mole storyline. Cody Bollinger tells the others that Team Rousey somehow caught wind of all the female fights that Tate was lining up.
Bryan Caraway’s shorts are taking away from the dramatic impact of this conversation.
On the ride home, Bollinger goes right at Peña, as he and Fisette are convinced that she doesn’t care about who fights who anymore since she’s already advanced and she spends so much time with the other team. Other than that, they have no real evidence that she’s done anything wrong. Peña is so taken aback that all she can do is deflect the accusation to the always unassuming Roxanne Modafferi. YOU LEAVE ROXY OUT OF THIS!
Then again, nobody ever suspects the butterfly.
The only one who can settle things down is the man of the house, the white Richard Roundtree, hot tub enthusiast Chris Holdsworth.
Holdsworth: How ‘bout we just...all just chill out until we get to the house and I don’t have to hear this s**t ‘cause (expletives).
Be cool, my babies.
The coach feud might bring in the viewers, but it’s Holdsworth who takes over this episode. After a massage, Holdsworth and Modafferi have an awkward, monotone exchange that I think is supposed to be...romantic? I don’t know. I’m openly "shipping" Chris/Roxy at this point.
Unfortunately, the show runners are pushing a Chris/Juli relationship and they set them up with a nice poolside sequence. When Peña asks Holdsworth what his longest relationship has been, his response is a bleeped out swear word. He then goes on to say how much he likes "friends with benefits", accompanied by his soon to be world famous dorky chuckle. The guy is a star.
The mole drama ends as quickly as it began. Jessamyn Duke had actually started the whole thing and she was apparently just stirring up s**t because nobody actually told her anything. When you think about it, after that first match there were only six girls left and the probability field was greatly reduced so it wouldn’t be difficult to guess the remaining fights. On an unrelated note, I’m a sucker for Duke’s Kentucky accent.
There’s also a nice moment where Peña admits she was completely in the wrong for accusing Modafferi. DAMN RIGHT YOU WERE WRONG!
The show continues to aim for the Twilight demographic, giving us a watershed scene where Holdsworth gets a letter from Peña and decides to share it with the boys. Some highlights:
- When Gutierrez notes that Peña underlines the word "primal", Holdsworth replies (in classic Holdsworthian fashion) She wants me to get primal, I guess.
- She knows I got that cardio.
- The letter is signed "V.V" (Venezuelan Vixen), to which Holdsworth brilliantly remarks She wants that "pee-pee", that’s what she meant. Ah ha ha ha ha ha. (that wasn’t a punctuation error, he laughs without exclamation)
- I’m trying to stay on her good side and maybe she’ll make me some more enchiladas...or the whole enchilada, you never know. (dorky laugh)
- I’ll give her the best two minutes of her life. Okay, that was legitimately funny.
Smooth...no, wait. Creepy.
The obligatory Rousey/Tate scuffle involves a trip to the Red Rock Casino to catch a UFC show (UFC on Fuel TV: Nogueira vs. Werdum, I believe) and once the alcohol starts flowin’ so does the high school cafeteria trash talk. Rousey makes some wisecracks about Caraway who is just minding his own business and Tate steps in to defend him. A smart move since Caraway’s feud with Rousey a year ago made him look like a complete ass. Rousey calls her striking coach (Edmond Tarverdyan) over to back her up and he threatens to beat up Tate’s boyfriend some day when there are less cameras watching. Poor Caraway is trapped in the middle of it all and can only fake a smile. I’ll bet he didn’t move from his bar stool the whole night.
Unlike last week, this week’s match-up is a tale of similarities, not contrasts. Beal and Holdsworth are both young, undefeated prospects. They share the same tragic story of brothers lost to gun violence and how it inspired them to better their lives. Holdsworth’s brother was presented with
a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt an American freestyle kickboxing black belt at his funeral, which pushed him to reach that same level in martial arts. Beal saw what happened to his own brother and vowed to stay off the path that led to the grisly incident. He fights to be a good example for his son.
Dana White hypes the fight as classic "striker vs. grappler", but Holdsworth decides to flip the script. He’s a tall guy and he does exactly what he’s supposed to do, keeping distance and poking away. Beal is having problems connecting, though he does land a clean shot when Holdsworth stays too upright. Holdsworth is a big target and he needs to work on that head movement. Still, he has the biggest hit of the early moments, a straight right that has Beal blinking.
Holdsworth almost gets a takedown, but Beal uses the cage to spring back up. He actually ends up on top momentarily until the threat of an arm bar brings the action back to the feet. Holdsworth lands another straight right that dizzies Beal and follows up quickly with a guillotine choke that ends the fight.
Good work, kid. Now go get some enchiladas.
This episode was a 10-8 round for Tate, who came off as super sweet at the start of the episode and she got to end it with a big smile on her face again. She also has Holdsworth on her team and he might be the next Forrest Griffin for all we know. Rousey, on the other hand, still seems overly emotional, deathly serious and downright mean at times. I still like her, but she’s not making it easy.
I’ll let Tate’s assistant coach Eric Triliegi have the final words.
That’s what you get for eating biscuits for breakfast!
Next week: The last women picked on each team face off! It’s Jessica Rakoczy versus Roxanne Modafferi. Also, Caraway and Holdsworth get their own sitcom where they have to balance running a gym together while romancing their fighter girlfriends. I can dream, can’t I?