The TUF Diaries: Season 7

One of the least well-remembered seasons I'd say mainly because not many of the fighters who were featured went on to do much in the UFC. Still, it surprised me on a rewatch as you'll see...

TUF 7: This was the first season with qualifying matches to get into the house, which meant the biggest tournament yet in terms of numbers as you had 32 Middleweights whittled down to 16 into the house. Interesting gimmick at the time as obviously it weeded out guys like Bowman, Weems, Thacker, et al that we'd had before, but I mean, you have to ask why those guys got through in the first place? Spike producers choosing them I'd guess. Anyway, coaches were Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson and Forrest Griffin, building to their fight at UFC 86 for the LHW Title. At the time this sounded like a really cool dynamic between two of the roster's more charismatic fighters, but admittedly TUF was beginning to flag a little too.

Episode 1 - I remember at the time this seemed awful just because it felt like they were rushing through fights, but on a rewatch it isn't that bad, we get some funny commentating from Rampage, Forrest and Dana and only four fights in full with the other four shown in highlight form. First observation - they were still trying to make Rampage out as the nice, comical guy here rather than the bully they portrayed him to be on TUF 10. I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle. It's quite crazy looking back to see the shock from the fighters as they realize there's 32 of them and they need to fight to get into the house, but these guys don't fuck around and all make weight. First fight has Mike Dolce of the Dolce Diet fame knocking out a dude brutally. TOTALLY forgot Dolce was a TUF veteran and it's wild how he's perhaps the most famous guy from this cast bar like, CB Dollaway, Amir Sadollah and Matt Brown these days. Best fight here is Amir hitting an armbar on US Marine Steve Byrnes, while Rampage's buddy Dave Roberts also gets tapped by Jeremy May, who they sort-of tease as being a bit of a dick but nothing too major. All fights are (or look) entertaining outside of the crap Paul Bradley one that Dana compares to "two turtles fucking". A decent beginning, looking back.

Episode 2 - Where Episode 1 got off to a slow start as everything had to be explained, this one gets right into it with one of the most vicious KOs in TUF history, and in fact I'd say only Uriah Hall's hook kick tops it. Matt Riddle knocks out a dude called Dan Simmler and breaks his jaw in two spots, but the scariest bit is poor Simmler literally groaning in agony for AGES afterwards. He's still unconscious while doing it too and he cannot remember a thing upon waking. Scary shit. Best fight here looks like Dan Cramer vs. Jeremiah Riggs, who I believe went onto fame on WWE Tough Enough. Cramer wins a tight decision after taking a shit-ton of illegal upkicks as Riggs didn't appear to know what he was doing and was literally just street fighting. Comical moment? Jesse Taylor fighting some dude called Nick Rossborough, who Dana, Forrest and Quinton label "the Slim Shady of MMA" despite him looking nothing like Eminem. The joke is so fucking funny though as they play it up literally all the way through the fight. Forrest is blown away by his Eminemness (!). "Dude needs to go back to Eight Mile" says Rampage when he loses. He looks NOTHING LIKE MARSHALL. Awesome.

Episode 3 - Teams are picked with no Penn-ish drama this time. CB Dollaway is Rampage's top guy so Forrest has first fight pick. First bit of SEASON DRAMA as Paul Bradley apparently has herpes on his face. Fuck, I thought that was an STD, not something you get on your face. I never claimed to be a doctor though. Or an expert in herpes. Regardless, Bradley's gotta go. Rampage is called in to choose a replacement and attempts to pick someone who's already in the house from a bunch of photos. This is hilarious. In the end he settles on Patrick Schultz, who didn't exactly look stellar in his prelim bout. Don't know why he didn't go for Steve Byrnes or Jeremiah Riggs who to me looked much better. Blah. Schultz has a haircut like DJ Paulie D from Jersey Shore which pisses me off right away. Fight is Jesse Taylor vs. Mike Dolce and well, it's easier to understand why Dolce became a diet guru rather than a UFC fighter as Jesse dominates him and chokes him out in the 2nd. There have been worse fighters on TUF than Mike of course, but I'll bet he's making more money as Mr Diet than he would've as a "UFC veteran" on the smaller circuit. Good for him.

Episode 4 - We're really low on house drama and stuff early on in this season as the only thing worth mentioning is that Matt Riddle who is super-young here (just turned 22) keeps clashing with Dante Rivera, who is a lot older, for some reason. I guess Dante thinks Riddle's cocky or something. Anyway Rivera outright tells Riddle he'd retire if he ever lost to him, which funnily enough happened on the Finale and of course he didn't retire. Blah. Fight though is outstanding as Riddle goes to war with Team Forrest's Tim Credeur, and it's a real back-and-forth deal before Riddle's inexperience shows through and he takes the BJJ black belt down when he has him in trouble standing, and Credeur reverses and armbars him. In a nice show of respect though Credeur tells Riddle he'll buy him an X-Box 360 with some of his winnings. What a guy.

Episode 5 - First bit of issues in the house as Jeremy May puts lime juice in Matt Brown's tobacco juice thing. Now personally I think the dude was doing Brown a favour as it's fucking 2013 (well, 2008 here but the point still stands...) so what the fuck is a pro athlete doing chewing that stuff in the first place? Brown though is PISSED. Fight gets controversial too as Dante Rivera takes a decision over Rampage's Brandon Sene, pissing off both Rampage and Fucking Dana White who thought Brandon should've won as he did more damage while Dante got takedowns. Watching here I agreed with Dana but what can you do? Fight fucking stunk anyway thanks to Rivera's stifling tactics.

Episode 6 - So we REALLY see how much of a prick Jeremy May is here. Basically he's matched with Matt Brown, no surprise there. The rest of Team Forrest are terrified of Brown, in an ironic sort-of way, basically making Chuck Norris Facts jokes about him. May then decides to con them into thinking he's drinking heavily pre-fight by pouring a bottle of booze away and then filling it with water, and taking shots of water. That's quite clever, but what isn't clever is faking a knee injury (which he freely admits on camera) to avoid doing cardio because he thinks he'll burn himself out. Fight comes and May actually dominates Brown early with some decent punches and even mounts him, but inevitably he runs out of gas and Brown KOs him with a BRUTAL HEAD KICK that Dana says is one of the coolest KOs in TUF history. He's right. Second fight on this episode is Dan Cramer of Team Rampage vs. Team Forrest's Luke Zachrich. These guys go to fucking WAR. Sloppy as hell but insanely entertaining; one of the best TUF fights ever I'd say. Cramer eventually manages to dish out more than Zachrich can take and puts him away in the 2nd, giving Rampage his first win. Bravo.

Episode 7 - Two more fights here. The house stuff is really low-key on this season thus far but the fights have been shit-hot. First one is no exception as Rampage matches Gerald Harris with Amir Sadollah. Everyone figures Gerald's going to beat the shit out of Amir who is a kickboxer with no pro MMA experience. Forrest promises to shave his head if Amir can pull out the win somehow. Fight comes and Gerald fucking SLAMS THE SHIT out of Amir, throwing him around all over the place in the first round and generally dominating him. Second round comes....and Amir pulls out a hail mary knee for the KO. Rampage is just broken by this, almost as much as Gerald himself. Second fight is Cale Yarbrough of Team Forrest against Pat Schultz, he of the shitty haircut. Schultz gets a couple of knockdowns and wins the first, but then gets taken down and SMASHED in the second, leading to a 10-8 round for Cale on two scorecards and a majority decision in favour of Cale. Rampage is furious as I guess he figured it was one round apiece (which it was, I guess) and storms off....but it's FORREST who really loses it and smashes up the door of his locker room as Schultz tells him to get back into his corner or something. Solid episode all-round with two decent fights.

Episode 8 - First off, the lamest prank in TUF history as Forrest shoots Rampage with a net gun. Just, why? Then it's time for the final first round match; CB Dollaway vs. Nick Klein. Dollaway at this point was already known as one of the top prospects outside of the UFC and coming into this he was the favourite to win the whole tournament. This episode shows him tapping Rampage in training with a Peruvian necktie, which is cool. Fight is AWESOME as Klein is also one of the better, more underrated guys in the house (which makes me wonder why he never fought again after this...) and filled with tons of great scrambles before CB taps Klein in the second with a guillotine. Show ends with the Quarter-Finals being made, and the only guy to really call someone out is CB, who wants Cale because Cale called him a faggot. I think that's fair. He gets his wish.

Episode 9 - Jesse Taylor fucking abuses himself with junk food and cuts weight playing ping pong before pissing himself by the side of the Jacuzzi to lose a little more water weight. Gabe Ruediger he is not. Pity his fight with Dante Rivera FUCKING SUCKS though as Jesse just takes him down and holds him there for a decision. Blah. Second fight though makes up for it as Amir and Matt Brown fucking WAR causing Fucking Dana White to likely orgasm at cageside. Seriously awesome fight, holy shit. Amir wins with a triangle in the second round but both guys go through HELL. I totally, totally forgot how great the fights were on this season. Thank fuck for OCD because I never would've rewatched this shit otherwise.

Episode 10 - Jeremy May decides to go all-out prick again and busts out ANTI-SEMITISM to taunt Jesse Taylor hopefully into hitting him and getting kicked out. This guy is a fucking scumbag. Thankfully about seven other guys hold Jesse back and things calm down. And then Dan Cramer SAVES US ALL by fucking swinging for the fences in his fight with Tim Credeur. This guy does not give a fuck, honestly. Just swinging wildly like his name's Leonard Garcia, but better looking - as Credeur keeps telling us, making me wonder if he's hiding something. Anyway Tim somehow weathers the storm and heel hooks him for a painful-looking tapout. Another great fight, seriously. Sloppy as hell thanks to Cramer but I mean, I'd bring him back to the UFC RIGHT NOW assuming he still fights this way. Dude was 1-1 in UFC after this series, how the fuck did they ever cut the poor guy? Second fight sees CB absolutely fucking dominate Cale with a first-round TKO. I guess revenge is served. Forrest does not like this one bit as he thinks CB's cocky, and he wants Jesse to lay-and-pray on CB in the semis to get rid of him. Also in this episode the fighters randomly smash up the house, which has me shaking my head. It's a fucking great house, why would they do that? And the semis are made and much to Forrest's disappointment it's Jesse vs. Tim and Amir vs. CB. I cannot get enough of this show.

Episode 11 - It's coaches challenge time and this time Forrest absolutely destroys Quinton at basketball, surprising given which dude is white and who is black. Not that I'm a stereotyper or anything. Then the night before his fight with Tim Credeur in the semi-final, Jesse Taylor decides to drink himself stupid and piss himself AGAIN, this time straight onto the carpet in the house. This guy is a fucking idiot. Good fighter though as he grinds out a three-round decision over Tim before puking into a bucket. Fight is nothing special however.

Episode 12 - The opening piece sells this as "the most shocking ending in TUF history" and obviously it delivers. First up - CB Dollaway vs. Amir Sadollah. And what a fucking fight this is. CB absolutely takes it to Amir and beats the hell out of him for two rounds, save for a couple of escapes from Amir. Big cut too so there's a lot of blood. And then fucking Amir somehow pulls it out in the final round with a hail mary armbar. So it's Amir vs. Jesse in the finals. But of course this doesn't happen as the shocking twist is Jesse getting hammered again (that's a surprise?!) but this time he GOES ON THE RAMPAGE IN VEGAS, kicking through a limo window before HARRASSING WOMEN. Dana is fuming and Jesse is OUT (and off to AA too) and so CB and Tim come back to have another fucking good fight. This time CB just about takes it, despite being knocked down in the first round. Not many times that the TUF voiceover actually delivers, but this time IT DID.

This was a good season looking back. I always saw it as a low-drama one where little happened which is semi-true outside of the ending and Jeremy May's bullshit, but the fights outside of like two or three were the BOMB, and in terms of sheer toughness of the tournament you cannot fuck with this one based purely on the wild schedule. Sadollah ended up winning FIVE tough fights to win it while fucking Dollaway had to fight five to reach the finals alone! If you like your TUF without the house bullshit and with great fights this is the season for you.

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