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Ultimate Fighter 7: Episode 1 recap and discussion

The Ultimate Fighter 7
Season seven of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) is officially off and running as episode one opens with a promise that "It's all going to change."

The 16 new contestants wander into the gym with an unexpected air of humility.

Then (almost comically) the remaining doors open and more contestants file in like the multiple Smiths from the hallway scene towards the end of The Matrix Reloaded.

It took a few minutes of standing around bewildered but fortunately simple arithmetic prevailed and the guys realized there were now 32 contestants instead of 16.

Dana welcomes the cast and introduces coaches Forrest Griffin and Rampage Jackson. Dana reminisces about season's past and declares his hatred for pussies and posers. I guess that explains his public disdain for the Sherdog forums.

His solution is to have the contestants fight their way onto the show - or Fighters vs. Posers as Dana so affectionately calls it.

Elimination tournament. Eight fights in the first episode. Trial by F'ing fire. I know it's early but damn if this isn't shaping up to be the best opener in TUF history.

Not every contestant is as ecstatic as I am about this new development. Brandon Sene quit his job and sold his cars so that he could be on the show. Hopefully he doesn't get sent home on the first day since he now has no way to get home from the airport.

Rampage wastes no time getting into character following Dana's announcement and swears it smells like someone shit their pants. I suppose it's possible seeing as how Tim Sylvia didn't leave the UFC until last week.

The middleweights weigh-in first and everyone made weight which is surprising considering it was done on such short notice. Kudos to them.

Middleweight Elimination Fight #1: Prince McLean (4-5) vs. Mike Dolce (4-4)

Round 1: McLean eats a punch and they tangle and fall to the mat. McLean reverses but gets slammed back down for his efforts. Dana is amused by Dolce's war face. Rampage is partial to McLean's personality. Soon after McLean crumples in the corner from strikes.

Mike Dolce defeats Prince McLean via TKO (strikes)

McLean breaks down on camera as the producers give us the slow piano music that means we should be sad. Unfortunately the next fight is starting right away so the best we can do is bid adieu and keep it rolling.

Middleweight Elimination Fight #2: Cal Yarbrough (0-0) vs. John Clarke (6-2)

Yarbrough is a friend of Coach Griffin but Forrest isn't high on his chances. Clarke had to cut 17 pounds to make the fight and is getting too old to get drunk and fight in Boston. Knowing Boston's high moral standards, I find that very hard to believe.

Round 1: Yarbrough misses with a high kick. Clarke shoots and scores easily. Forrest calls it garbage. Rib punches by Clarke. Yarbrough scrambles but goes nowhere. Clarke tries for the kimura but lets it go. Clarke gets warned for punches to the back of the head. Clarke rolls. Forrest continues to grimace. Yarbrough escapes and gets to his feet. They go back to the ground and Yarbrough gets top position. Clarke easily reverses and looks for the armbar. Yarbrough escapes and sticks his head into a guillotine but is able to back out and get to his feet. Yarbrough throws some sloppy strikes but Clarke is too exhausted to defend and just covers up until the ref stops it.

Cal Yarbrough defeats John Clarke via TKO (strikes)

The producers must not have been very fond of John Clarke since we don't even get a parting shot with him looking sullen on the bus ride to the airport. Instead we roll right into the third fight of the night. No complaints here.

Middleweight Elimination Fight #3: Steve Byrnes (6-1) vs. Amir Sadollah (0-0)

Round 1: Sadollah lands a front kick. Byrnes shoots and backs him to the cage but gets stuffed and still holds on. Byrnes eventually spins him to the mat into half and then full guard. Byrnes eats some shots from the bottom. A lot of effort for positioning and a lot of energy getting spent. Byrnes sneaks in some elbows. They inadvertently kiss during a transition. Sadollah does a nice roll and reverses position. Dana and Forrest argue whether or not Sadollah is strong. Byrnes locks in an armbar but Sadollah narrowly escapes. Sadollah back on top. Rampage gets submitted by his own spelling. Sadollah stands and gets reversed. Sadollah bleeding from the nose but stays busy from the bottom. Rampage doesn't like Byrnes face so close to Sadollah's yam-bag. Round one ends with Byrnes landing hammer fists.

Round 2: Sadollah with a high kick. Sadollah shoots and drags Byrnes to the floor. Byrnes rolls and gets top briefly but Sadollah keeps the momentum with him and gets back to top position. Byrnes stands up and eats a knee. Byrnes is sucking wind but still gets a takedown. Sadollah looks like he's playing twister and accidentally lands on top of Byrnes. Sadollah lands some heavy blows from the top. Byrnes rolls again and gets trapped in an armbar and is forced to tap. In his excitement Sadollah runs to the side of the cage and jumps on it - only to come crashing right down like a winded Humpty Dumpty. Not satisfied with the embarrassment of falling on his head, Sadollah commences with an on-camera dance. And it's the robot. The largest collection of crickets and tumbleweeds ever assembled make their way across televisions nationwide.

Amir Sadollah defeats Steve Byrnes via submission (armbar)

Prior to the final televised fight of the night, we get highlights (and lowlights) of four fights that took place during the first wave of the middleweight elimination tournament.

CB Dolloway (6-0) defeats David Baggett (4-2) via TKO (strikes)
Dante Rivera (10-2) defeats Jon Wood (6-3) via submission (kimura)
Nick Klein (3-0) defeats David Mewborn (4-0) via submission (arm-triangle choke)
Paul Bradley (5-0) defeats Reggie Orr (5-5-1) via unanimous decision

Middleweight Elimination Fight #8: Dave Roberts (4-5) vs. Jeremy May (6-5)

Roberts is seen training with Rampage before the fight much to the dismay of Jeremy May. Rampage tells May to mind his own business.

Round 1: Roberts with a low kick. May returns the favor. Glancing haymaker by May. Roberts keeps his hands low. May rushes in with a combo that backs Roberts into the cage. May smothering him with punches. Roberts grabs a leg in desperation and they fall to the mat. Roberts looks lost and gets caught in an armbar. Rampage looks disgusted. May gets a wee bit cocky after the fight.

Jeremy May defeats Dave Roberts via submission (armbar)

Episode one is officially in the books and I couldn't be more pleased with the way this season has started. Fans have long been clamoring for more action and less drama and episodes one and two look to deliver on that demand.

My only question is: How will they be able to sustain this kind of action-packed pace for the remainder of the season? Only time will tell.

Stay tuned next week as they crank out eight more fights to determine the remaining middleweight contestants for this season including one of the most brutal knockouts in the history of the show - complete with ambulance!

See you then!

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