The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18 gets underway on FOX Sports 1 with a moving montage from a handful of select fighters who all discuss their motivations for joining the mixed martial arts (MMA) reality show.
Welcome to TUF ... and it's co-ed.
32 bantamweight fighters will slug it out to determine who moves into the TUF house and when all is said and done, there will be eight men and eight women on each team, coached by UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey and division number one contender
Cat Zingano Miesha Tate.
This is the part where "Rowdy" goes apeshit after learning that "Alpha" was bounced by a bum knee.
After UFC President Dana White calms everyone down, the contestants are brought in for consideration. White calls the female fighters "legit," despite 13 years of being snubbed. The winner earns a "six-figure contract" and a brand new Harley Davidson custom motorcycle.
Product placement FTW!
Now it's time for the elimination fights and the coaches blather on about winning and losing before we cut to a hotel room where former Invicta FC standout Jessamyn Duke is towering over her mom. She's up first and Laura Howarth will oppose her. Or not. Duke wraps her up like a spider and taps her out in the first round.
Duke def. Howarth via submission (triangle choke)
Up next is Danny Martinez out of Alliance Training Center, who has a wife and baby cheering him on. So too, does David Grant, so this is more about wins and losses for these dads. Just as things get underway, Grant drills him with a 12-6 elbow right to the spine. Ouch. Then in round two, he uncorks a knee him to the dome while his foe in on all fours. This guy is like "Pig Pen" ... because he's fighting dirty! No matter, he locks up an arm and secures the tap.
Grant def. Martinez via submission (armbar)
Jessica Rakoczy takes the stage and gets a little weepy over being apart from her son. She might want to save some of that emotion for Revelina Berto, who comes from a decorated fighting family. Rakoczy is a former pro boxer and has a suspect ground game. Berto, not surprisingly, takes her right to the ground and locks up an arm but can't produce the tap. Instead, it's Berto who surrenders after an ugly-ass armlock.
Rakoczy def. Berto via submission (Omoplata)
Michael Wootten is apparently a big deal in the UK but his bout opposite Emile Hartsner was "not a great fight," according to Dana, who used the words "boring" and "sucked." Not a good look when you're trying to impress the UFC brass. Expect the winner to be picked last.
Wootten def. Hartsner via decision
Peggy Morgan is a teacher and completely schools Bethany Marshall.
Morgan def. Marshall via technical knockout
Our beloved Roxanne Modafferi, who cut her teeth in Japan before doing work in Strikeforce, takes on Valerie Letourneau, one of George St. Pierre's gals. Roxy uses her experience and grappling to lock up the rear naked choke and I am happy.
Modafferi def. Letourneau via submission (rear naked choke)
Longtime wrestler Tim Gorman runs to the cage like a maniac and looks very intense. Fellow Midwesterner Lee Sandmeier has a pair of bum ears, a la Matt Hamill, and wants to use his history of getting bullied to excel in MMA. Unfortunately, he'll have to do it somewhere other than UFC after getting pounded out.
Gorman def. Sandmeier via technical knockout
Raquel Pennington of Invicta FC fame tries to bring her A-game against storied veteran Tonya Evinger. Mission accomplished. Two rounds of action and Evinger runs out of gas ... and breath.
Pennington def. Evinger via submission (guillotine choke)
Chris Beal says he's "The Real Deal" after surviving cancer in his leg. He also survives a very tough three-round fight against Sirwan Kakai, who gets a moral victory for getting crushed in the opening frame but hanging on to make it a fight.
Beal def. Kakai via decision
Grappling stud Josh Hill takes on Irish import Patrick Holohan. Hill picks up the win, but also picks up some serious criticism from Dana White and Miesha Tate, who both pan his boring, wrestling-based offense. He joins Wootten in Dudsville.
Hill def. Holohan via decision
Colleen Schneider has a physics degree and talks like a braniac. She also has a hot tattoo on her leg. Unfortunately, submission specialist and "Queen of Spades," Shayna Baszler, is not impressed. Add another sub to her long list of taps.
Baszler def. Schneider via submission
Louis Fisette gets a visit from his dad, who tells the world his son doesn't hold a good job or pay rent because he's too busy being a fighter. Ringing endorsement! Fisette claims he likes to beat people up and cash checks. Oh boy. Chris Holdsworth fights out of Team Alpha Male and has combat sports in his DNA and hopes to honor his late brother. He gets it done by way of superior grappling. Louis is going to have some explaining to do when he gets home (or at least some check writing).
Holdsworth def. Fisette via submission (arm-triangle choke)
Gina Mazany has given up figure skating and gymnastics to pursue MMA. She's going to find out if it was the right choice against self-described "Kentucky Derby Horse," Julianna Pena. Mazany gets lit up for both rounds and Pena cruises on the scorecards.
Pena def. Mazany via decision
Next up is high school dropout Matt Munsey, who fights Anthony Gutierrez. Throw another log on the "boring" pile as there was not much to break down on either side. Rousey called it a "battle for position."
Gutierrez def. Munsey via decision
One of the more grizzled veterans, Tara LaRosa, doesn't even make it into the TUF house after getting worked by Sarah Moras. LaRosa had no answer for her opponent's relentless ground game. Must have been the tee shirt. Huge upset.
Moras def. LaRosa via decision
Brazilian prospect Rafael De Freitas has to care for his ailing mother and plans to do it at the expense of Cody Bollinger, who is already telling his wife to prepare for his six-week absence. Bollinger spends most of the first round stuck in submissions but doesn't tap. Good thing, too, because he came back in round two and beat up Freitas after the grappling guru gassed.
Bollinger def. Freitas via technical knockout
Now it's time to pick the fighters and Rousey wins the coin toss so she opts to go with first fight, giving Tate first pick. She takes Julianna Pena and "Rowdy" counters with Shanya Baszler.
Here's where the rest of the contestants ended up.
Rousey picks the first fight and it's Shayna Baszler vs. Julianna Pena. Wow. No. 1 pick vs. No. 1 pick. "Going straight for the jugular to demoralize Team Tate," is Rousey's reasoning. More highlights for the upcoming season and all I care about is finding out who gets kicked off the show for tearing up a lottery ticket.
See you in seven!