By Jesse Holland
Season six of The Ultimate Fighter is underway as the cameras pick up right where the commercials left off. Unfortunately it's the same footage as the commercials so the episode really begins at 10:05.
Serra strolls in doing the Long Island shuffle and yuks it up with Dana about the upcoming season. Despite a menacing camera angle Pastor Hughes make a less than dramatic entrance. After a handshake that was about as sincere as the one between Rabin and Arafat on the Whitehouse lawn, Serra tells Hughes what a pompous jerk he is.
Not since Boy George asked "Do you really want to hurt me?" have so many Americans nodded in unison.
Hughes gets the first laugh of the night as he explains how his children are not allowed to watch Matt Serra on television because of his salty language. Boy what I wouldn't pay for a quick glimpse of the Hughes family Tivo.
Outside the gym the van of inequity rolls up and as the contestants file out one of them actually shouts "Whoot! Whoot!". For the first of what I'm sure will be many times this season, I clutch the remote and briefly consider jumping ship.
Dana welcomes the fresh meat and drops the requisite F-bomb. After some quick introductions Dana informs the fighters they'll begin evaluations effective immediately. He then smiles and wishes them luck and gets a round of applause that was so forced it actually created a Doppler Effect.
The evaluations begin and Hughes drops a few names but doesn't seem overly impressed. Serra eyes up a student from his school named Joe who (strategy be damned) gets the nod after Serra wins the coin toss and elects for first pick.
Hughes has a good laugh over Serra's #1 pick and as grapplers remarks how they're so much alike. Then Hughes picks Dan Berrera who openly admits he had a vision from God that saw him joining Team Hughes. You know what they say about glass houses.
After the remaining contestants are divided up, we learn that Roman from Team Serra was injured during evaluations. As such, he's sent to the doctor to get checked out.
The doctor informs him that his elbow is broken and that he cannot fight. In one of the more unsettling sequences from The Ultimate Fighter, Roman gets into a staredown with the doctor and proceeds to call him an idiot.
He then storms the waiting room and assaults an innocent garbage can all the while screaming about how he's not a pussy. Sorry Roman, but you broke your elbow during evaluations. Being labeled with the P-word is a foregone conclusion.
Roman ends the segment by questioning the doctor's competence. His big argument is that the Doc is only 5"²4"² (like no one over six feet has ever been guilty of malpractice). He also says the doctor is out of his mind. Talk about the pot and the kettle.
Back at the gym Roman gets accolades from Dana and company who laud his desire to keep fighting. Personally I didn't buy it. It's easy to say you want to fight when you know they won't let you. Haven't we all seen that guy at the bar who doesn't have a thing to say until a couple of bouncers are holding him back?
Despite the time wasted on Roman it was almost worth it just to hear Dana shit on Eli from Season 2 and Noah from Season 3 (cameraphobic and missing genitals, respectively).
Over at Team Hughes, Matt discusses his strategy for the first fight (which he picks) and as expected, he opts to stick a dagger in Serra. He figures a quick elimination of Joe will hurt the most and he pairs him with the more experienced Mac Danzig.
Danzig hopes to become the first Vegan champion in UFC history. He also hopes to get through the season without having his sleep or his meals interrupted. I think you may go 0-3 with those goals Mac.
During the commercial break I find myself nostalgic about the Amp'd mobile replay. Then I come down to earth with the movie preview of "The Kingdom". I'm not sure why anyone would pay to see a movie about kidnapping and murder in the Middle East when all they have to do is turn on CNN and watch it for free.
Plus it stars Jamie Foxx. If they really want to make it worthwhile, they should leave the script the way it is except have Jamie read his lines like Wanda from "In Living Color". Now that I would pay to see.
Anyway, we get back to the show and Serra may be a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but he's a lowly white belt in confidence building. He actually tells a nervous Joe about his upcoming fight with Mac: "Don't worry about it, they put Humpty Dumpty back together again".
We don't get a weigh-in so Mac has to make up for his missed opportunity by taking cheap shots at Serra. Regarding his chances of losing to Joe he says "I guess I could slip on a banana peel and get caught with an overhand right".
Mac's climb to the top of Mt. Ego reminds me of Ed Herman from Season 3 only with less charm. If your first thought was "But Herman was an asshole on the show" then you understand my point.
The premiere is nearly over and the fight hasn't started so I'm not expecting any surprises. Joe timidly enters the Octagon as if it was Thunderdome, closes his eyes and rushes Mac to open the round.
Mac answers with a knee and a takedown. He strikes sporadically as a bewildered Joe just stares at him. They roll around a few times but Mac maintains mount. Joe seems to be having issues with his breathing as his mouthpiece is getting more airtime than Dana White.
Mac tries to stand it up and Joe sneaks in a takedown. Mac does a good job of tying him up and Joe seems content to just flop around for a while. Mac slaps on a triangle choke with such ease it could have been mistaken for a demonstration.
Serra screams at him to hang on until the end of the round but with just seconds left Joe figures he has a way out and taps. Mac wins by submission. Serra loses by attrition.
It's difficult to rate a premiere episode because it has only a finite amount of time for exposition and as for the fight, it's what we've come to expect from the first few episodes of each season.
Stay tuned next week as Team Hughes gets fired up, Joe wants to go home, and Hughes gloats over the fact that he's Matt Hughes and we aren't.
See you then!