By Jesse Holland
Special to UFCmania
Well we're off to the races with season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter underway. As usual the cast arrives at the kind of sprawling estate that most up-and-coming UFC fighters live in. What immediately catches my attention is the flagpole named Corey who at 6'4" is this season's Kendall Grove. He can only hope to perform as well.
The cast strolls in to the palace with mouths agape and Gabe decides now would be a good time to declare himself the resident A-hole for the season. He runs around pushing and shoving, sitting in people's laps, and grinning that kind of insecure grin that blatantly screams "I need attention".
We cut to Chief Sitting Bald, Dana White, who promises a very "nutty" season (which marks the second use of the word "nutty" in ten minutes). Unofficially I have the fight scored Nutty 2, F-bomb 0. Either Dana is losing his touch or this week's episode is sponsored by Planters.
After the Dana segment we get a quick history on the Penn/Pulver feud with Jens explaining that in their first fight he beat BJ fair and square and I quote "Pissed on his Wheaties". Something tells me after that visual that Jens can forget about showing up on a cereal box anytime soon.
It's time for fighter evaluations and Jens gets first dibs. He puts them through a battery of exercises and keeps his distance observing from afar. He keeps them busy for quite a while and by the time BJ rolls in for his crack at the fighters they're flat-out bushed.
BJ cries foul and blames Jens for wearing the guys out for no other reason than to make it hard for him to make a fair assessment. He decides there's no point in evaluating tired fighters and calls it a day about halfway through. The strategy must have worked because the van ride home has a lot of guys professing their love for the Hawaiian Lion.
The next day is team selections and Lil' Evil wins the coin toss. He gets his choice of picks: first fighter or first fight. He wisely goes with first fight and a scorned BJ decides it's punking time. He asks for a show of hands on who wants to pledge their allegiance to Team Penn and ignore Team Pulver. 10 of 16 hands go up and Pulver scowls.
The inmates start running the asylum as Dana instructs BJ to make his first pick and Jens (in a moment of wounded defiance) tells the guys that rose their hands to keep them up so they can all align themselves with BJ. Dana says no and tells them to put there hands down. BJ says put them back up so they can all join him. Dana says put them down because it doesn't work that way. More bickering ensues. Hands go up and down so many times all that was missing was a funky beat and someone yelling "raise da' roof".
Dana blows his stack, the F-word flies (finally) and the coaches eventually make their selections. The entire segment makes Ken/Tito look like Kasparov/Deep Blue. Tribalism rears its ugly head as guys don their new jerseys and the house turns into Lord of the Flies. Corey starts calling out the world and runs around barking and snarling. Funny what some people will do when they know the camera's watching.
Team Penn looks like they may have second thoughts as they're rousted at 6am for a day of hard training. Pulver takes a more conservative approach and labels himself more of a representative than a coach. Way to disassociate yourself from the group Jens. Don't worry, it's only episode one, they're not a reflection on you as of yet.
Suddenly we go from Ultimate Fighter to Montel Williams as Gabe finds weight to be his biggest enemy. Roughly twenty pounds overweight, he mopes about wondering aloud why he can't lose weight. BJ implies that Gabe may have to sever his own head because twenty pounds weighs as much as a human head. Apparently BJ doesn't own a mirror.
In any case, Gabe wanders off by himself and starts crying about his weight (yes, crying as in tears). He finds comfort in the arms of a Team Penn trainer and the guys exit the gym to see them embrace. The pile into the van and the best BJ can say to comfort him is that Gabe is giving 100%. A fellow cast member remarks that maybe Gabe should stop giving 100% in the kitchen. Moments like this really have me longing for the return of Matt Hughes.
It's time for the fight picks and Team Pulver sends Cole Miller into action. I think they miss a real opportunity here as they pass over a bloated and watery-eyed Gabe to get to Allen Berube, the fighting restaurateur who wants publicity for his eatery. After the announcement the chosen combatants slam their heads together like two rams trying to impress a doeling.
We learn that Allen is originally from Maine, so we can forgive his silly phrases like "I hit hotter than anyone else". What we cannot forgive, is the fact that he calls himself the Crustacean Sensation. As someone who has roots in Maine, I can attest that in fact this is considered acceptable behavior in Vacationland. There is nothing to do in Maine except shovel snow and eat lobsters. It can do things to your brain. But I digress.
I start to get excited as the fighters enter the cage. I go for the volume on my remote but inadvertently hit "info" which alerts me to the time: 10:54. Ugh, six minutes left in the show and they haven't started fighting. Looks like this one is ending early.
They get it on and things move as expected. Some striking, some grappling, and BJ being the good coach that he is keeps screaming to Allen MATZOH! MATZOH! in honor of Passover. Or is that monster? I must have missed that part of the show where they label him as one or the other.
Allen makes a mistake and gets caught in a triangle. It's over early and Jens looks satisfied after drawing first blood. Allen's post-fight interview finds him in good spirits. He explains that he didn't really lose he just got submitted. I guess in his mind only a (T)KO is a loss. In the famous words of George Costanza: It's not a lie if you believe it.
Corey Miller refuses to be upstaged in the Octagon or in the post-fight interview. He looks directly at the camera and sends the viewers a message: He isn't cocky, he just says what he's going to do and does it. Well I have a message for you Mr. Miller: You beat a 2-1 lobster chef, try not to pull a muscle patting yourself on the back.
Week 1 is in the books and while it was mildly entertaining, I'm not ready to call it a home run just yet. Only time will tell. Next week we're promised a surprise mystery guest, a shirtless Nate Diaz, and a lot of mental breakdowns. See you then!