After an almost unbearable two week absence, The Ultimate Fighter returns! And we’re really getting down to it, with the last two matches of the quarter-final round coming right up. So many of our most pressing questions will soon be answered. Will Matt Mitrione stay in the competition and face James McSweeney despite possible brain trauma and definite shenanigans? Will Kimbo Slice overcome a bum knee to make his long awaited return? Will Marcus Jones use his newly revealed jiu-jitsu prowess to secure some type of incapacitating titty twister or purple nurple on the much maligned Darrill Schoonover? Will the winner of either match have anything to offer the more accomplished and obviously way, way better Roy Nelson and Brandon Schaub in the semi-finals? We’ll have to wait a minute on that last one, I guess. But everything else, we find out now.
Dana White is a reasonable man. He understands that not everyone wants to be a f—cking fighter, to use his own term. What confuses and frustrates him, however, is that a small few of the really very many people who don’t want to be f—cking fighters keep showing up on The Ultimate Fighter, and that’s inconvenient. At this point, you’ve really got to look at this as a casting issue, though, don’t you? It’s got to be shame on Tufguy Productions at some point, right? Regardless, Dana is displeased, and he has decided that rather than bottling those feelings up, he’s going to just let them all out, which is probably healthier in the long run. Dana makes it clear that there could very well be a spot opening up in the quarter-finals if Mitrione is unwilling or unable to fight, but, to his disappointment, nobody steps and says they want that fight. So Dana decides to talk to Kimbo.
“My thing is fighting on my toes,” Kimbo begins somewhat apprehensively. “I haven’t been on my toes. I can’t fight on my toes. I get into there, and I feel like I won’t perform like I want to perform. And that’s how I’m feeling, know what I’m saying? I don’t want another loss on my belt, man, to be honest with you. I just can’t stomach that.” Kimbo, as revealed last episode, has arthritis in his knee, and absolutely no interest in taking a cortisone shot to get back out there. Dana obviously isn’t going to force the man to fight if he doesn’t want to fight, and so it ends for Kimbo Slice on The Ultimate Fighter, not with a bang but a whimper. Some might go so far as to say not with a whimper but a dick tuck, but I will not be among those who say such shameful things. Because Kimbo is awesome, and he’s absolutely right that it wouldn’t be smart thing to fight a kickboxer when his mobility is badly reduced. “It wouldn’t be fair to my peoples. It wouldn’t be fair to my family. It wouldn’t be fair to me. That might demise me a little.” Just as the golden-piped voiceover guy suggested during the opening, Kimbo’s knee has proven to be his Achilles’ heel (dipped in the river Styx by Icy Mike, or so the bards sing).
It doesn’t matter anyway, since Mitrione has decided that his brain isn’t bleeding all that badly after all and he’s probably OK to fight. The doctor agrees – in fact, we have no evidence he ever disagreed – and the match is set. Mitrione reveals to the camera that he was exaggerating his injury all along in some kind of strange and misguided psy-ops. “I was kind of just literally messing with James.” Outstanding!
In a profoundly unfortunate turn of events, we learn that Scott Junk’s fighting career could be over due to two small tears on his retina that required immediate laser surgery. Junk, you’ll recall, was accidentally poked in the eye early in the first round of his match with Mitrione back in episode seven. Nobody is happy to hear this, obviously, but the sensitive and emotional Marcus Jones losing himself completely and angrily confronts Mitrione, shaking and on the verge of tears. Also on the verge of, like, murder. This is senseless and legitimately crazy. Everyone but Marcus sees that, and fortunately everything cools out, but wow. It’s probably good that Marcus didn’t embarrass himself any further, because as it turns out Junk is going to be alright.
To the weigh-ins, then, where McSweeney gets in Mitrione’s face and shoves him, which is unremarkable except for Mitrione’s response, which is to lick the first two fingers of each hand and grab his crotch before Rashad rushes in to split them up. This is a baffling and yet strangely raw maneuver. It is also far more raw than anything Mitrione manages in the fight itself, which ends in a McSweeney guillotine choke after three and a half minutes. Both men landed a few good shots early, but Mitrione looked pretty shaky on the ground and got caught sticking his neck out while attempting to regain his feet. He didn’t exactly fight that choke, either. Mitrione didn’t look so hot here, and McSweeney did what he needed to do. Mitrione is mad at himself for tapping “like a bitch,” which should actually rank pretty low on his list of things to work on coming out of this fight. Remember that, kids: “bitches” tap out, “bitches” like Matt Hughes, Dan Henderson, Georges St. Pierre, Quinton Jackson, Randy Couture, “bitches” that a clown like Mitrione should obviously be way, way tougher than. I honestly don’t know where these guys come up with some of this stuff, but it’s disgraceful.
Fortunately we’ve got the last fight of the quarter-final round to help us get the nasty taste of Meathead out of our mouths (pause). Both Schoonover and Jones seem like genuinely nice guys (setting aside for a moment Big Baby’s murderous rage) but they look serious as hell coming to the cage. Seconds into the match, Jones clinches and takes Schoonover down with a thunderous outside trip. He immediately looks for the nurple, but with the nurple well-defended, Jones contents himself to throw punches from a step-over triangle position out of a scarf-hold, which is absolutely as nifty as it sounds, and completely dominant. Jones gets a hold of an arm and thinks about an entangled arm lock, an Americana, but Schoonover escapes, turtles, and then rolls through to the safer guard position. This is all very nice! Soon thereafter, though, Jones holds Schoonover’s head in place with his left hand and lands a couple of solid rights that end the fight. It’s not that Schoonover did poorly here so much as Marcus looked like an absolute beast in this one. A beast! Big Baby!
Dana White ends this great episode – maybe the best all season, in fact – by announcing the semi-finals. It’s going to be tournament favourite (and Dana’s least favourite) Roy Nelson against a fired-up James McSweeney in the first semi, and the cool and dangerous Brendan Schaub against the greatest grappler of this or any era, Marcus “The Darkness” Jones in the second. As if the promise of those matches weren’t enough, we get some pretty solid jawing back and forth between Rampage and Rashad, too, with Rampage promising to beat the brakes off Rashad. That’s a classic, right there. We can only hope that fight actually happens someday. But in the meantime we can be sure of Nelson/McSweeney and Schaub/Jones, which are happening pretty much right away.