The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) returned to FOX Sports 1 (FS1) last night (Weds., May 30, 2018) for episode seven of its first-ever “Undefeated” season. Coaching the cast of 16 mixed martial arts (MMA) hopefuls — split between the featherweight and lightweight divisions — are UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and UFC 205-pound kingpin Daniel Cormier.
“DC” is jumping up in weight to challenge Miocic at UFC 226 in July.
The show opens by making a big deal out of Team Cormier’s lead over Team Miocic, which at the beginning of the episode, is 5-1. Ricky Steele returns from the hospital after last week’s win and fortunately he suffered no broken bones in his foot. That hasn’t stopped him from complaining about the pain, as well as his “concussion-like symptoms.”
He’s experiencing light and sound sensitivity and has to eat breakfast in bed, courtesy of Bryce Mitchell. Coach Cormier doesn’t like what he sees and “forces” Steele to see a doctor. A comprehensive exam reveals normal brain activity but the lingering after-effects force the physician to ban him from competing.
We start to focus on this week’s lightweight scrap between Allan Zuniga and Richie Smullen, the latter of which got headlines for being a training partner of former UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. Zuniga gets work in with Coach Miocic but the language barrier (Spanish) makes their conversation awkward.
Zuniga is from Costa Rica and likes to play with reptiles in his spare time.
According to his teammates, Smullen is a “silent killer” and an early favorite to win the show. There is some concern that Zuniga could get caught in a heel hook and refuse to tap, which of course would lead to serious injury, straight-up Rousimar Palhares style.
Smullen promises to be a “different kind of grappler” and won’t take his opponent down and “hump him.” Coach Cormier doesn’t want him to waste time throwing hands and prefers to have this fight hit the ground as soon as possible. They bump heads at the official weigh ins and have to be separated before the benches clear. As you might expect, “DC” was egging them on and being troublesome.
Right before the fight, Richie gets severe leg cramps and has to be benched. They call in the doctor — who cleared him to compete an hour prior to the bizarre issue — and the general consensus is that nerves have manifested into a physical impairment. He’s allowed 30 minutes to get his shit together and Team Cormier works overtime to try to alleviate the pain. UFC President Dana White comes down to the locker room and calls it a “weird day.”
Time expires and Smullen can’t answer the call so Zuniga wins by forfeit. Zuniga starts freaking out in the locker room (to the point of tears) because he’s broke and lost the chance to get a knockout bonus. White comes onto the scene and awards him the extra cash anyway. The official ruling is medical disqualification.
Here’s where we stand after episode seven:
Suman Mokhtarian Jay Cucciniello Kyler Phillips
Joe Martinez John Gunther
Richie Smullen Thailand Clark
Smullen does his own crying in the locker room because he lost his chance to represent Straight Blast Gym and now has to return to Ireland and look his teammates in the face — including McGregor — while trying to explain why he came up lame in the big spot.
There’s only one fight left so featherweight trash talker Dulani Perry from Team Miocic will compete against No. 1-pick Tyler Diamond. Perry has a watery eye during the staredown and Coach Cormier mercilessly teases him for it.
See you in seven!