It’s only the second week and already The Ultimate Fighter has the MMA world buzzing. Dana White dropped the Kimbo bomb, Roy Nelson is working out his pitch for The Roy Show, and Team Rashad’s synergy in the cage doesn’t necessarily equal gumdrops and rainbows after the bell.
We get plenty of Kimbo right off the bat in episode two. We actually get a pretty nice window into what his training looks like, which is not something we always get on The Ultimate Fighter. There were a couple things that stood out to me here. First was the way he moves. It’s one of the things you can’t teach; you either have it or you don’t. He was actually very fluent, his balance looked good, and he seemed to keep his hips in pretty good position. These are all things that I haven’t seen from him in past fights, so it’s a promising sign that he’s coming along as a fighter.
He also seemed to be soaking everything up. There are a lot of rumors out there that he’s not very coachable, but this is definitely what he displayed. He looked attentive, thoughtful, and legitimately interested in learning new things. Of course, practice and live fights are two very different things so let’s see if this translates into success for him.
On the other hand, there’s Roy Nelson, who will of course be fighting Kimbo next week.
We know that Roy is a great fighter, but he was definitely not as willing to take instruction as his counterpart. It’s no big surprise though, that it took Roy about .3 seconds to rub his coaches the wrong way (and visa versa). He’s not your average cast member. A lot of MMA insiders consider him one of the top 10 heavyweights in the world, as he’s headlined his own cards and held some pretty illustrious titles. He’s a guy who’s used to teaching his own classes, and he’s developed his own methods that work.
Dropping him into an environment where he’s cast as an underclassman is naturally going to put him on the defensive and he’s going to feel pressure to standout as a leader. Granted, he showed some immaturity with his unwillingness to listen, but it’s easy to see where he’s coming from.
Imagine a professional racecar driver who gets pulled over for speeding and then has to sit through a defensive driving class, practicing three-point turns with a bunch of pimply teenagers all day. It’s not going to be a comfortable situation for anyone. Okay, fine, the 15 other cast members aren’t exactly the MMA equivalent of pimply teenagers, but you get the point.
It’s also worthy noting that Roy took some time to explain that the altercation may have seemed a little more significant than it actually was. He described it as more of a misunderstanding than anything else, and eventually he was able to find a mutual respect between himself and his coaches.
Read between the lines in this episode and you’ll see a story of two professional fighters who are getting ready for one of the biggest matches of their respective careers.
But first, there is the little matter of James McSweeney vs. Wes Shivers. This matchup was a nice example of what happens to the human body when it gets packed to the brim with giant muscles and generic flame tattoos –it gets tired. Rashad and Rampage were both clearly disappointed with the lack of conditioning their fighters showed. It was a very close decision and if either man had a little more gas in the tank, they could have pretty easily put sealed up a victory. I hope to see a more prepared McSweeney in the semi-finals, but nonetheless Team Rashad is sitting pretty at 2-0 with control of the match-ups.
Perhaps smelling a sweep, the yellow team is starting to realize that they’ll soon be forced to turn on themselves in pursuit of the finals. Spike.com’s extended scenes caught some of the dissension when Darrill Shoonover had a few words that rubbed Wes Shivers the wrong way: