Episode one of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 10 is finally underway and coaches Rashad Evans and Quinton Jackson are already bickering over who is the bigger loser. Almost immediately the heavyweight contestants start filing in and the coaches start gawking at the sheer size of the new group.
"Rampage" refers to Marcus Jones as an Ogre and is one bad cliche away from asking him how the weather is up there. Fortunately UFC President Dana White comes in to break up the jibber-jabber between Jackson and Evans and whoops! There's only 15 fighters.
By George, we have a surprise contestant! Who could it be? Kimbo Slice in da howse! Alleged ex-NFL'er Brendan Schaub is not impressed by Kimbo's beard, which strangely resembles the bush Peter Griffin was sporting when he gave home to that endangered bird on Family Guy.
The ego of former IFL champ Roy Nelson takes a major hit following the announcement since "Big Country" thought he was the big announcement.
Kimbo takes a minute in the confessional to remind us that he's street certified. Apparently that's good enough for Coach Jackson, who thinks Slice is downright dreamy. Coach Evans laughs it off and is glad to be free of the potential burden.
During the break we catch a glimpse of the direct-to-torrent release of "Blood and Bone," starring a bunch of actors who can't fight and a bunch of fighters who can't act.
Back at the gym it's evaluation time and Coach Evans brought Greg Jackson along for the ride. Team Evans just went up about 100 points right out of the gate.
Coach Rampage counters with Tiki Ghosn -- and by having some of the guys beat on each other. He assigns flattering nicknames to most of the contestants like Darill Schoonover, who he refers to as "titties." That Rampage, always with the positive reinforcement.
Kimbo hits the stage and anyone who was in a coma for the last year will be shocked to learn that Slice is apparently lacking in the ground game.
Evaluations are over and it's time for the coin toss, which I followed with the cookie toss since Rampage actually picked Kimbo first. That allowed Evans, who had first pick, to nab both Schaub and James McSweeney, two of his teammates back at Greg Jackson's camp.
He also gets Roy Nelson while Jackson stacks his team with an increasingly unstable Wes Sims and the unproven Marcus Jones. Zak Jensen gets picked last -- just over a nearby camera man -- and naturally ends up with Rampage.
Following the festivities, the gang heads back to the TUF mansion to decide which fighter is going to get the dubious honor of knocking Kimbo out of the house first. Slice is smart enough to know he's got a bullseye on his back but plays it cool.
Team Evans gets to the gym for some training and Rashad reflects on his journey from a TUF 2 contestant to TUF 10 coach. Rampage is not impressed and promptly boots him from the gym.
He starts with a cardio test and Marcus Jones starts clutching his heart like Fred Sanford when he got a one-way ticket to Elizabeth.
Since Evans picked first fighter, Jackson gets to pick first fight. He chooses John Madsen vs. Abe Wagner and Rashad is elated, thinking Jackson made a dumb pick. Considering all the hype and expectations around this season, a collective yawn could be heard across the nation following the match up.
Madsen gets busy in the gym and during the segment, Coach Evans makes first mention of his fight with Rampage in December. I sigh accordingly.
Jackson, obviously working on some revolutionary form of fight preparation, preps Wagner in the gym by asking him basic multiplication. Abe responds by puking into a bucket.
Heavyweight elimination fight #1: John Madsen (1-0) vs. Abe Wagner (6-1)
Round 1: Wagner offers to touch gloves and Madsen ignores him. Madsen immediately shoots and takes him down hard. Up against the fence, Wagner is in all kinds of trouble, eating elbows and taking punishment. He tries to push off but Madsen is all up in his grill. Action quickly stalls as we get a bizarre picture-in-a-picture of Rampage frozen in a catatonic trance, occasionally shouting incoherent instructions. We switch to a magic box of Evans, who repeatedly shouts "posture up and punish him" like he's stuck on a loop ala Rousseau's annoying French message from Lost. Several elbows later and we have a bloodbath on our hands as Wagner is hemorrhaging badly from perhaps the goriest cut in TUF history. Round over.
Round 2: More glove-touching shenanigans and Madsen once again shoots and puts Wagner right on his butt. Referee Steve Mazzagatti has seen enough of the man-hugs and stands them up. Madsen defies him with another takedown and I look at my watch. Not exactly an electric start to season ten. Mazz puts them back on their feet and (surprise) Madsen drags it right back down. If not for the blood there would be nothing to look at. Mazz brings them back up (again) and Maddy takes him down (again). The bell sounds and Madsen lets out a WHOO! like he just put on the performance of a lifetime.
John Madsen defeats Abe Wagner via unanimous decision.
And here I thought Kimbo Slice was the worst fighter in the house.
Stay tuned next week as Rampage gives Kimbo a crash course in all things MMA, Rashad reprimands Roy Nelson for his obnoxious behavior and another heavyweight battle unfolds.
See you in seven!