This week's episode of "The Ultimate Fighter" focused on a dispute over UFC hats and t-shirts. A light heavyweight was eliminated, a middleweight switched teams, and now everyone hates Sam Hoger.
The show began with a recap of Diego Sanchez easily beating Josh Rafferty. Other fighters surmised that Diego, a submission specialist, decided to pound on Rafferty to send a message to the other middleweight fighters.
The fallout was that Team Liddell was again punished for winning by having to send another fighter to Team Couture. Liddell, after a few bleeped expletives, chose to send Kenny Florian. Florian took the decision in stride. Couture said "I'm not gonna put you on the spot. What the other team is doing doesn't really matter to me." Maybe that's why Couture's fighters keep losing?
Another "mood of the house" segment showed clips of fighters from the two teams laughing together and throwing poker chips at each other. "Seems like everybody's kind of friends", said Alex Schoenauer, "There isn't like the big 'blue team- green team.' Everybody kind of, you know, hangs out together a little bit more. Everybody is getting along fine together it seems like."
So much for building up fights based on personal dislike. The fighters finally realized the team concept was a joke because the winning team loses fighters just as fast as the losing team.
Kenny Florian got to train with his new coach for the first time. Florian was excited about working with Couture, who showed him some takedown techniques. Unfortunately this segment was cut short.
Apparently the producer thinks whatever UFC actually does is pretty boring because he can't wait to get back to his reality-TV-by-numbers formula.
Dana White and the coaches came to the house to watch the UFC PPV with the fighters. This was a good opportunity to show guys sitting around enjoying the action of a UFC PPV. One wonders why the fighters didn't have access to the UFC DVD collection during the show.
This week's challenge involved lugging cases of bottled "UFC" water around a parking structure while the coaches sat perched above dunk tanks. The winning team would get to dunk the losing coach.
Team Liddell won in bizarre fashion when Forrest Griffin, who now had completely shaved his head, noticed a case of water that had apparently been misplaced next to their pile. Randy Couture, who had given a speech about being ambassadors of the sport, slid into the waist high water and landed on both feet, not even getting his shirt wet. So much for the "dunk" tank. Couture's dunk was like Undertaker going over the top rope to the floor and landing on both feet.
Team Liddell got to select the light heavy fight for the week. Forrest Griffin, who has been chomping at the bit for weeks, wanted to fight. He selected Alex Schoenauer, saying "I think he's the weakest link", then strangely added "It's nothing personal."
The show picked up steam after Stephan Bonnar noticed that his supplements were missing. Rather than calling his congressman, Bonnar decided to search through other people's bags. This led to Stephan and Diego discovering that Sam Hoger had a cache of UFC hats, shirts, and rash guards in his bags.
The entire house turned on Sam, blaming him for stealing their UFC gear. Sam responded that he didn't appreciate being called a thief by Josh Koscheck, but El Hijo Del Muraco just shrugged.
The training segments last for just a few minutes while the stolen beanie saga dominated the rest of the show. Sam's story that the office manager had given him permission to take the extra items was proved false. Diego told Chuck that he no longer wanted to train with Sam. Everyone in the house started giving Sam the cold shoulder, but Koscheck mocked both sides.
Camp counselor Nathan Quarry hobbled in to settle the dispute. He told Sam that he "needed to make reparations." Nathan lectured Sam as the rest of the fighters filed past them in silence. Privately, Sam complained "I was already going to do the right thing."
Sam gathered everyone together for an announcement. "You're quitting?" asked Stephan derisively. Sam admitted that he had been wrong to pick up extra stuff, still refusing to admit that he had taken stuff from other fighters. He brought everything down in a bag and offered it to the other fighters. They accepted the gear, but not the apology. Sam Hoger privately said that they were not "men of honor" like he was.
Before the fight, Forrest looked very loose. He was just looking forward to fighting and getting a "primal buzz." Schoenauer looked tight and focused, but not scared. Forrest's comment that Alex was the weakest link seemed to help Alex get motivated for the fight.
Couture had predicted that Forrest would come out swinging wildly and for once he made the right call and had the right fighter to implement his strategy. Alex stayed in control and picked openings for counter punches. Within the first fifteen seconds Alex had opened a huge gash over Forrest's left eye.
Forrest charged in, reeled back, and once appeared to turn and run to create some distance. They tied up several times with Alex showing surprising power, but eventually Forrest caught Alex with a leg grapevine and took him down. Forrest moved quickly from a side mount to a full mount and rained down punches on Schoenauer's face, forcing him to tap out.
If the highly anticipated Leben-Koscheck fight had this much action and brutality, "The Ultimate Fighter" might have been able to continue to draw new viewers, at least for a week or two. Unfortunately for UFC, their ratings have gone down steadily since the disappointing fight between Chris Leben and Josh Koscheck. This episode drew a 1.5 rating, down 30% from the peak a few weeks earlier.
After the fight it was discovered that Forrest's cut was serious enough that he might not be allowed to continue on the show. If the show follows form, Forrest will get to choose his own replacement if he can't continue. He'll probably pick Bobby Southworth, though there would be some justice in naming Schoenauer as his replacement.
The teaser promised a surprising rule change next week which the fighters didn't like. Given the producer's desire to maintain balance between Couture and Liddell, my guess is that the final members of each team have to fight each other, guaranteeing that each team will have one fighter in the final matches without forcing the coaches to trade fighters again.
I keep watching this show in hopes that it gets better and it hasn't. I will watch until the ned just becasue of the time I have invested in it, but it really needs some major reworking to get me interested in season two. First and foremost should be more fighting. Screw the challenges and just have them fight. Each week it is a different weight limit and the coaches pick who they want to fight and the fighter does not knwo who he will face untilt he weigh in. This way we can have some interesting matchups.
My money was on Diego and Forrest, but if Forrest can not go on, I think Sam will shock everyone and walk away with the title.
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