After a first episode filled with elimination fights, we have our first episode of "The Ultimate Fighter" that is filled with training, flapping gums and some of familiar sights and sounds for reality TV fans.
To start this episode, the fighters engage in the reality television ritual of checking out their sweet digs. An interesting addition to the house's decor this year is a wall-sized collage with the pictures of every previous "Ultimate Fighter" cast member as well as the legendary Dana White quote, "Do you wanna be a [expletive] fighter?"
At a gathering of all the fighters and coaches, Dana White announces that the first fight and fighters will be chosen by the toss of a coin between the two coaches. Tito Ortiz wins, so he's allowed to pick the first fighter or the first fight. From then on, match-ups will be decided by the winning team. Ortiz goes with the first fight pick and chooses Nick Ring. From there, the teams are picked as so:
Team Punishment (Ortiz's team):Ring, Kyacey Uscola, Kris McCray, Jamie Yager, James Hammortree, Clayton McKinney and Chris Camozzi
Team Liddell: Kyle Noke, Rich Attonito, Charles Blanchard, Josh Bryant, Brad Tavares, Court McGee and Joe Henle
Chuck Liddell will now decide the first bout. Ortiz questioned Liddell's picks because many of Chuck's fighters are undersized. Dana White tells Ortiz, "Chuck's a strategy guy, but not today." White points out that Ortiz has every guy who won in the first round from the elimination bouts.
Liddell's longtime coach John Hackleman, American Top Team boxing coach Howard Davis, WEC fighter Antonio Banuelos and Strikeforce champ Jake Shields help Chuck coach his team. Ortiz has striking coach Saul Soliz, jiu-jitsu coach Cleber Luciano and former WEC champ Rob McCullough working with him.
Team Punishment fighters McKinney and Camozzi are both banged up heading into the fight announcement, which may be a problem, since McKinney is picked to face Noke.
The house shenanigans start early as McCray, Tavares and Yagr decide to wake up their housemates with airhorns at 3 a.m. McKinney, who has a fight ahead of him, is reasonably pissed, but he can't stay angry for too long as he finds out there this isn't any lasting damage to the shoulder he knocked around in his elimination bout. (Later, when complaining about Yager, McKinney says, "I'm not here for that crap," and comes within inches of one the greatest reality TV cliches of all reality-TV-time. "I'm not here to make friends.")
Set-up shot alert! Tavares asked Liddell why he's looking forward to fighting Tito again. Liddell said that he was looking at the Tito bout as a tune-up fight, but then he heard that Tito was saying that Liddell was an alcoholic who needed an intervention from Dana White. Liddell's still angry about that, and thinks that there is a chance that Liddell might drop Ortiz here. "And Tito's such a [expletive] that he'd probably press charges," Liddell added
At Team Punishment's practice, Ortiz rewarded hard work with a celebration of his birthday. He gave the team cupcakes and a shot at a dollar-bill-filled pinata in the shape of Chuck. With that game, all the fighters win!.
Finally! A fight between McKinney and his hurt shoulder and Noke and his Australian accent and Greg Jackson's training.
Noke (Team Liddell) vs. McKinney (Team Punishment)
Round One: After two minutes of tentative stand-up, McKinney gets Noke down to the ground, but then McKinney seemed unsure of what to do when he gets Noke down. Before long, Noke locked in a triangle choke causing McKinney to tap.
Ortiz insisted on making the loss an instant teaching moment, teaching McKinney how to get out of the triangle choke right after the fight. Perhaps the better time to teach him that would have been before the fight. On the other side of the training center, this first Team Liddell win means that their team retains choice on fights and gives the team a shot of confidence.