Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was back on cable television last night (Fri., March 16, 2012) with episode two of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 15 on FX.
No, it wasn't the season premiere but it felt far more like the season debut with the 16 winning fighters moving into the house, picking their beds and figuring out how to pass the time over the next few months.
The early verdict? Beer. As usual.
This season's coaches, UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz and his arch rival and number one contender to the 135-pound title, Urijah Faber, chose their respective teams. The first point of contention of the season came here with Cruz drafting Chris Tickle, a guy who wanted to be on Faber's team and was virtually promised as much.
Too bad, so sad.
Shortly after teams were chosen, we were treated to the first official argument of the season between the two coaches, as "The California Kid" brought to light issues he had with recent comments made by "The Dominator" in a magazine interview.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
This new season of TUF, the fifteenth of its kind, was heavily promoted on the promise of something fresh and different. That's centered mostly around the fact that the fights are live for each episode but the week leading up to the fight is filmed, cut, produced and edited to be shown in a 45 minute block before the live fight.
To that end, nothing's really changed at all.
Petty bickering between coaches? Check. Constant training montages with voiceovers to introduce who's who? Check. A new wrinkle in the house to cause some form of emotional attachment? Check.
This week it was Michael Chiesa tugging at our heart strings as he was informed his father had passed away after a two year battle to keep going. He didn't die, however, without getting the chance to watch his son win a fight on television on his way to realizing his dream.
It was just as emotional as UFC President Dana White promised.
Again, though, without the visceral emotion brought forth by Chiesa and his very real life issues felt whilst living in house with 15 other fighters locked away in Las Vegas, the episode was short on anything of actual substance.
There are only so many changes that can be made to the format to spice things up. As long as they throw a group of guys into a house and strip them of even the most basic of amenities, all we're left with is a group of testosterone-laden TUF guys trying to find something to do to entertain themselves in between training sessions.
The break from such things comes when the coaches can't help but get at each other's throats but if last night's argument between Cruz and Faber was any indication of what we can expect throughout this season, it's going to be a long,
strange boring trip.
Thankfully, the live fights format works like a freaking charm.
On top of the live fight we were treated to last night, the UFC also offered a live streaming video of the gym in the time leading up to the bout itself. Not exactly groundbreaking originality, but a nice new wrinkle, nonetheless.
For complete results and the running live blog of last night's TUF 15, episode two click here.