TUF premiered on Wednesday night right after UFC Fight Night 28 and right away the drama started. The big surprise for Ronda Rousey was that Cat Zingano blew her knee and out and Miesha Tate would be stepping in to coach. Ronda is pissed and upset because she thought for some strange reason that Tate was there to replace her as she did not know about Zingano’s injury. Sure, Dana White could have let her know ahead of time what was happening but Dana knows good TV and does not want to waste Ronda’s reaction. She did not disappoint and the show is off and running.
The format for this episode was before each fight we saw each fighters family or friends visit them in their hotel the day before they were to fight. We get a few comments from the individual fighters to the camera as they put up their names and where they are from. The two fighters fight and the winner moves on into the house. Dana, Ronda and Miesha comment and evaluate the fighters during the fights then they picked their teams. The first fight of the season was also set at the end of the episode.
With so many fights to cover they did not show full fights, instead using a lot highlights. It is difficult to evaluate the fighters based on one fight most of which were just clips of said fight. There were some fighters on the women’s side that are well-known to fight fans. The one mistake the UFC made might have been just not having an all-female cast. It is going to be very difficult for the women to not dominate the men from an interest standpoint. After one viewing it was the women that made more of impression so far. This could have been a result of the editing of the show.
One thing this episode did highlight was the power and pull of the UFC for both men and women. The first men’s fight was David Grant versus Danny Martinez. Grant is a natural bantamweight while Martinez competes as a flyweight. Yet because it is the UFC here he is fighting up a weight class from his own to try to get into the UFC. If he did win and get into the UFC he would drop to flyweight immediately. He is exactly what the flyweights need right now in the UFC as it is the least deep division, and by far its most top-heavy. Their fight was at least competitive.
The same could not be said for the Peggy Morgan and Bethany Marshall fight. Again, Marshall is a natural flyweight and Morgan is a big featherweight. When they meet at bantamweight the result is not pretty. Marshall is a small bantamweight at best and Morgan is a giant one. The fight was a beat down as Morgan just came out and overwhelmed Marshall got her to the ground and pounded her out. The fight could have been stopped about ten blows earlier. Miesha noted during the fight that Morgan had an armbar waiting for her anytime but she just kept dropping elbows and fists. Ronda’s description of Peggy included her repeating three different times that “Peggy don’t give a fuck.” That is probably one of the best descriptions of this English Literature teaching, ass kicking mother. It was not her problem that Marshall was undersized, Peggy don’t give a fuck. She just went out and did what she need to do to move on into the house.
Dana and his shit eating grin was loving every tension filled moment. He knows that he has plenty of good TV coming this season. Ronda’s expression when Miesha speaks is usually bouncing between, “just shut the fuck up, bitch,” and “I can’t wait to shut you the fuck up. Again. Bitch.” Miesha, meanwhile, loves pushing Ronda’s buttons and at least half of what she says seems motivated to piss off Ronda. About a quarter of the rest seems to be geared towards pissing someone off. After her “She has no heart comment,” Miesha and Tonya Evinger will not be besties anytime soon. Dana touched on the tension while they were watching the entry fights together. He tried to lighten the mood and get them to talk about the fights and he mentioned Ronda’s laser like focus.
This was one of the differences that stood out as they were evaluating the fights. Miesha actually opened up and talked much more than Ronda throughout this part of the show, while Ronda had very little idle chitchat in her during the fights. She was locked in on the fighters and taking notes, some she wrote down and others she seemed to be taking mentally. When the women were fighting you got the impression that she was evaluating any possible future threats to her title. This illustrates one of the reasons that Ronda is the champ right now, she will not be out-worked. She is like the Terminator locked in on her target and focused on the current task. You can picture her inside of her head assessing a threat level of every of the women fighters. This is what happens when you have been raised by a meaner, nastier version of Yoda to be a world champion. Let’s face it, if Dr. Anna Maria squared off against Yoda he would be doling out wisdom with one less arm.
When it came time to pick teams Ronda won the coin toss and elected to pick the first fight giving Miesha the first pick. She picked Julianna Pena first and this was a tactical mistake. She had trained with her in the past and Ronda would be reluctant to pick her for fear of giving up any little secrets to someone who might then pass them along to Miesha. If she takes Baszler here she can take Pena in the next round. Instead, Pena now has to face Baszler in the very first fight. Dana caught Ronda off-guard telling her she had to pick the first fight pretty much right then. She confers with her coaches and her first thought is number one pick versus number one pick. Her boldness surprises no one. It was also no surprise to see Ronda take Peggy Morgan because Ronda certainly understands the “don’t give a fuck” attitude. She re-enforced that by selecting this first fight between Baszler and Pena.
We will find out next week who made the right choice. The teaser at the end of the show hinted at some amazing fights, someone getting kicked off of the show and Ronda and Miesha’s rivalry getting more intense. It should be one fun exciting season. One thing we know for sure after this one is that Peggy don’t give fuck.
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