Time for one of the more maligned seasons, as only two fighters are left standing now although I'd argue Ramsey Nijem should never have been cut. We're back in 2011 here towards the end of the Spike Era as Zuffa threw their biggest name onto TUF in Brock Lesnar, and to be honest it didn't really work.
TUF 13 - This was of course the Lesnar vs. JDS series which didn't do half as well as UFC were hoping it would. Premise was that the coaches would fight at UFC 131 after the season had ended, with the winner gaining a HW title shot against Cain Velasquez. Weight class this season was Welterweight, always an easy choice as there's so much talent out there. None of the names going in were really big prospects from what I remember though nor was there a Kyle Noke/Mac Danzig/Jonathan Brookins type veteran either.
Episode 1 - Fighters enter the gym and it's the Wild Card gimmick again, but this time they don't have to fight to get into the house. No clue why that is as it isn't like they were a great crop of talent on paper or anything. My guess? Lesnar was difficult to get to the gym and so they rushed through the season faster and didn't have time to have the prelim matches. Even the fighter picks segment isn't the usual as both Brock and JDS watch the fighters training, put them through their paces, and then just pick with Fucking Dana White who then tells the fighters which teams they're on. Again I'm guessing this is a Lesnar-related issue. First issue - Team Lesnar's Myles Jury has some knee issues. Turns out it's actually a COMPLETELY FUCKED KNEE as his ACL is gone and his MCL is busted up too. So he's gone and Chuck O'Neil is in as an alternate. And then for the first fight, JDS matches his first pick Shamar Bailey against Brock's last pick, German Nordin Asrah. And this is literally the worst opening fight in TUF history as Shamar lay-n-prays a win over Nordin. Awful beginning.
Episode 2 - With Myles gone from Team Lesnar, something bad's gotta happen to even things up and sure enough Keon Caldwell pulls an Eli Joslin and decides he can't cope with the cameras and he's missing his family and yada yada, you get the picture. So he's gone and Justin Edwards comes in as an alternate. Fight is announced as JDS's Javier Torres vs. Lesnar's Chris Cope. Interesting spot as JDS's wrestling coach Lew Polley absolutely tears into Cope (not to his face) saying they train together away from TUF and Chris basically has no skills and stinks. Can't believe he'd say that about a training partner, but then it's the beginning of a story arc which we'll get to later. To be fair though the fight DOES fucking stink. Cope does a little more than Torres and manages to land the better shots to take a three-round decision, but I mean, SO MUCH CLINCHING ON THE FENCE. Awful fight and a largely awful episode. Comical moment post-fight where Lesnar is like, "we're getting by with what we've got, turning chicken shit into chicken salad!". More on that in the next episode.
Episode 3 - Obviously Brock's guys are all pissed about the chicken shit comment. Lesnar covers himself by saying the fighters became chicken salad when they made it onto the show, but he's clearly covering his back and backing up here as I mean, guys like Blake Bowman made the show and that didn't really make them chicken salad, no offense. Then we get more of Lew Polley, who comes off as an absolute scumbag, talking over JDS constantly and contradicting JDS despite JDS being a top three fighter and Polley being largely a nobody. Lew ends up running this brutal training session that sees Shamar Bailey get cut. JDS talks to the guy about it but he STILL won't have any of it. Dude is a fucking prick and you wonder why the hell JDS brought him in to begin with! He does at least have weight-cutting skills as he takes Ryan McGillivray from 180lbs to 170lbs in 45 minutes for his fight with Lesnar's Len Bentley. Other story arc - the fact that Team Lesnar suspect Chris Cope is a mole for Team JDS. Hey now, the TUF Mole is a classic gimmick so I don't mind this. Pretty comical stuff given how paranoid Lesnar's guys get. Fight turns out to be a good one as Bentley and McGillivray leave it all in the cage. Personally I had it a round each, but the judges give it to McGillivray via majority decision. Bentley is quite rightly pissed but Dana at least congratulates him on the best fight thus far. Not that that was hard, but still.
Episode 4 - Lesnar returns from his random absence (he wasn't there for Len Bentley's fight) and congratulates Len as he's heard it was a good fight. Matt Hughes then comes in as a guest coach for Brock but doesn't really do anything of note as at this point he was on his way out anyway and I guess there wasn't any point in putting him over as a heel. Fight is announced as Lesnar's Charlie Rader, a training partner of Dollaway, Bader et al, against Ramsey Nijem of Team JDS, who is put over as a guy who isn't exactly serious. Then he gets the gimmick of STRIPPER RAMSEY!~! which is pretty fucking hilarious. Dude is a fountain of charisma. Lesnar thinks Charlie's going to run through him, but it doesn't happen that way and Ramsey totally outfights him en route to a second-round rear naked choke finish. Lesnar is so pissed off about this that he launches a stool into the cage post-fight. Then he totally goes off on his team, saying they've all looked like shit outside of Chris Cope. Well, that's bullshit as Bentley fought well and Brock wasn't even there to see it! Sure enough Len feels the same and storms out of the locker room. Dude has a point and Brock came off like a total prick here.
Episode 5 - Lesnar continues to scold his team which is such bullshit, honestly, as really only Rader fought a truly bad fight as such. Then we get more bullshit from Lew Polley as he decides to step in during a boxing session and explain different techniques to the ones JDS is teaching. What the fuck is with this guy?! Funny stuff follows as someone writes 'CHRIS COPE: DOUBLE AGENT' in this sand box thing and Team Lesnar get paranoid. Cope accuses Tony Ferguson and we get the first flash of Tony's temper as he threatens Chris a bit and sounds like he'd probably kill him as soon as look at him. Turns out it was Team JDS's Mick Bowman who wrote it, as all of Team JDS think Chris is shady too. Guy can't catch a break! Fight is between Bowman and Lesnar's Clay Harvison. It's a tough fight but Harvison comes out on top, dislocating his finger in the process with a sick visual of some bone sticking out. Surprisingly enough he's cleared to continue in the competition. Episode was decent I guess.
Episode 6 - The Lew Polley angle ends here as JDS decides to send him home after discovering he'd visited the fighters house without permission. This guy may well be the biggest idiot in TUF history as he just overstepped the mark over and over and over. Two fights in this episode and they're both good as Tony Ferguson and Justin Edwards go to WAR before Tony KOs him late in the first with a vicious upkick. Awesome fight with the most impressive finish to date. Next it's a grappling war between Team JDS's Zach Davis and Team Lesnar's Chuck O'Neil. Good fight that ends with Davis securing a triangle to tap Chuck out. Two excellent fights. So it's now time for the Wildcard picks, and personally I would've gone with Len Bentley vs. Chuck O'Neil (they mention right away that everyone wanted Justin Edwards, but he's under medical suspension) but somehow Javier Torres gets in instead of Len. No clue why. Len blames Brock which could well be a fair point, but who knows really? They try to portray Len as a whiner, but the guy does have a point if we're honest.
Episode 7 - Len is still whining and the edit monster obviously goes out of it's way to make him look terrible here, probably to save face for Lesnar. He's proven right though as Chuck totally dominates Javier and finishes him with a 2nd round D'Arce choke to head into the Quarters. So it's time for the Quarter-Final announcements and Shamar Bailey gets his wish of facing Chris Cope, who's been pissing him off with his continual Ric Flair-esque WHOOOO!s in the house. Other fights are Ramsey vs. Clay, Tony vs. Ryan and a rematch between Chuck and Zach. Coaches Challenge is also on this episode but it's forgettable as JDS beats Brock in some football drills.
Episode 8 - Not much going on here outside of Brian Stann showing up for a pep talk. Seems like such a great guy. Anyway! Ramsey is the first guy into the semis as he does not fuck around, takes Clay Harvison down and chokes him the fuck out. Took all of two minutes. Second fight is longer and unfortunately dull too as Chris Cope finds he can stuff Shamar Bailey's takedowns, and of course Shamar doesn't have much outside of that. Nor does Cope though so he manages to clip Bailey a few times to take a decision. Dull stuff.
Episode 9 - Starts off relatively low-key. First off, teaser for a story arc later on - Chuck O'Neil is best buddies with Charlie Rader and he says he's going to give the $5k bonus he got for choking out Javier Torres to Charlie in order for Charlie to pay his child support and see his son who he hasn't seen in over a year, which is shitty. Next up Chuck faces Zach in the rematch and indeed, this time it's different as O'Neil largely keeps it standing and outstrikes Zach, really fucking up both of his eyes. This wins Chuck a decision and unfortunately for Zach, he discovers he's torn both retinas and will probably need to retire. Nasty flash of realism in there amongst the reality show stuff. Next fight is frighteningly decisive as Tony Ferguson knocks the FUCK out of Ryan McGillivray in 46 seconds. It's quite clear at this point that Ramsey and Tony are the best guys by a fucking mile. And then the shit hits the fan. Everyone starts drinking in the house and Charlie pours some beer onto Tony for a joke. Tony doesn't like this....so he tackles Charlie over a sofa onto a fucking glass table. If that wasn't bad enough he then taunts the guy about not being able to see his kid! Holy heel turn Batman. How the other fighters manage to hold back Rader here I don't know. I mean Ferguson would likely have killed him, but even so. Total ratfuck comment to make even when you're drunk. So the episode ends with Tony as a pariah and Chuck promising Charlie that he'll fucking end Tony's dreams by beating him in the semi. It's such a pity that this happened so late in a dull season as if people had been watching like they were in the earlier seasons this would've drawn a massive rating I'm sure and Tony would be a Koscheck-level heel easily.
Episode 10 - Weirdly enough this is the last episode. Again I'm guessing Lesnar-related shenanigans caused this. Anyway everyone's furious at Tony, even when he apologises, blaming the drink. Len Bentley comes out with an awesome line here, saying the words of a drunken man are the thoughts of a sober man, which is like, genius-level philosophy. First up though, Ramsey vs. Chris Cope and of course it's largely one-sided as Ramsey works him over for a round before KOing him with a vicious combo in the 2nd. Ramsey's first knockout of the show and it's vicious. Then comes Tony vs. Chuck and unfortunately for Charlie, it's real life rather than the movies and the HEEL WINS after absolutely putting a beatdown on Chuck. Chuck looks like one of the toughest bastards in TUF history as Tony kicks the hell out of his leg and renders it useless, while also busting him up so badly he's near unrecognizable. Knockout comes mercifully in the third round. So it's Tony vs. Ramsey in the finals and basically the whole cast is rooting for Ramsey (again though this isn't the movies and Tony ended up winning). Then the series ends with Dana explaining Brock's got diverticulitis again and so it'll be Carwin vs. JDS at UFC 131.
This was a really, really weak season. Low on drama until the final two episodes, the coaches never got too heated and Brock came off like a guy who deep down didn't want to be there (and in fact wasn't there for a handful of the fights) rather than an antagonist. The talent pool was poor and literally the only plus point was that in my eyes at least, Ferguson and Nijem were a pair of solid prospects that the show managed to unearth. But outside of that, blah. Totally forgettable stuff.