Finally, a season worth talking about. So last night was the premier of The Ultimate Fighter - Rousey vs. Tate. I think they stopped numbering these things once they had more than one in a year's time. No matter, let’s get on to the good stuff. First, if you don’t know Ronda Rousey, Current UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion and the first American woman to medal in Judo (at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China) is undefeated and one of this year's coaches. A woman after my own heart (who loves food, men and violence) is the seed of a world champion Judoka momma who woke her every morning attempting to put her into an arm bar. The arm bar coincidentally is how she wins all her matches, normally in the first round. She makes it look effortless, and trust me it isn’t.
Her coaching counterpart is non-other than Miesha Tate. Now I don’t know a whole lot about Miesha except that she and Ronda hate each other on a personal level and that her record consists of some pretty telling losses in her Strikeforce days. One to Rousey of course where she was defeated by first round armbar which dislocated Tate's elbow and Rousey became the Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Champion. Another recent loss to Cat Zingano (who is also undefeated and was initially supposed to be the other coach but had to bow out due to injury) and two others a few years back. However, with a pool of professional women’s fighters that small, they have fought basically the same women in their careers. Enough of all that, let’s get to the tea.
So, Ronda walks in to survey the gym and here comes Tate. Ronda is VISIBLY pissed off and goes looking for Dana to clear up what the hell is going on. Dana explains the whole Zingano debacle and coincidentally looks like he is enjoying having these two boost ratings a little too much. If it weren’t for the fact that they could prove that Zingano was injured I would swear he did this on purpose. Honestly, I can hear the cash register in the background. So once Ronda comes to terms with this little surprise, they are off and running.
They introduce the first fighters and Miesha is just a running damn commentary at the desk with Dana. Cosign Tate is her new name. Ronda doesn’t even engage in conversation…yet. So first up is Jessamyn Duke a really thin, really tall Kentucky girl who apparently did some modeling prior to answering her calling to MMA. This little country chick is scrappy, and her legs are crazy long. In fact, I had never seen someone use their legs to deepen their hold (other when going for a triangle) on the ground. I immediately dub her Pennsyltucky. She defeats the British Laura Howarth by triangle choke (you are shocked, I know) in the first round.
Next up, David Grant and Danny Martinez. Grant can’t seem to keep from engaging in illegal strikes and Martinez can’t seem to stay upright. Grant wins by armbar in the second round.
Moving on, they profile Revelina Berto (of the fighting Berto’s apparently) who comes from a long line of fighting brothers sisters, dad, aunts, uncles and family pets. My first thought (I hope she wins cause if not this is gonna be embarrassing). She is up against Jessica Rakoczy who is no spring chicken and is attempting to get whoever is keeping her little biracial son to put him on the phone. No dice, kid isn’t interested. She looks like she wants to cry every time she mentions the kid. Could be fuel, could be a problem. They get in the ring and Rakoczy gets out of several really decent submission attempts and goes on to put Berto in the oddest and probably most painful omoplata. Rakoczy wins
Then there was a three round fight that went to decision with two guys where my best friend said “Send them both home”. Michael Wootten and Emil Hartsner poked, slapped at and generally danced each other around the octagon for 9 damn minutes. Dana looked like “how did these two clowns get in here”. Wootten won (if you can call it that) but I still maintain that 135 is super small for a man and they were doing zero damage to each other being that both were so comically inept and light in the ass. Hell I think 135 is small for a woman, but what do I know.
There was Peggy Morgan who defeated Bethany Marshall by TKO in the first round. Somehow I don’t really recall this fight. I could have still been in REM sleep from the previous bout, but nothing stood out to me as memorable this morning when I saw that Peggy had been picked by Team Rousey.
Another scrappy wtf moment came from nerd extraordinaire Roxanne Modafferi. Doofy super spazz that she is, she is still more go hard than those two dudes I mentioned earlier and she went on to beat Valerie Letourneau (any relation to Mary Kay?) by rear-naked choke in the first round. Chick was all over the place, but scared she is not.
Raquel Pennington who looks like one of the cautionary broads on Beyond Scared Straight defeated Tonya Evinger. For her part, Tate decided to comment that Evinger had drama going on with her girlfriend, so she didn’t see her winning. She was right, but damn why did everyone need to know that?
Chris Beal who I think I like a whole lot defeated Sirwan Kakai by decision. Something about that guy seems dangerous. That and the fact that he managed to beat leg cancer and get back in the ring in less than a year. I will go on record to say that I think he will win one of Dana’s $25,000 for Knockout of the Season, Submission of the Season and Fight of the Season challenges. Also, he reminds me of Crazy Eyes from Orange is the New Black, so if I refer to him as such, you know why.
Last up before my workout caught up with me was Shayna Baszler. I still don’t know what to think about her. She has a lot of heart, a lot of mouth, and according to Dana folks think that she is the one to beat. She is certainly built Ford tough, but since she is the very first fight of the season this year and she beat Colleen Schneider in a first round armbar, I am really interested to see what happens. That and she has gone on record to brag about her 10 year career and that she is doing this to be able to beat Ronda. I like your spunk chica but good luck with that. Oh and you should dial it back a notch since you are on Ronda’s team.
Then there were some other fights I didn’t care about. Tim Gorman and Lee Sandmeier two Iowa boys duked it out. That one went to Gorman. I passed out before I could catch the others. So, this morning I watched the replay of Rousey and Tate picking their teams.
Tate got current teammate Julianna Pena, Sarah Moras, Raquel Pennington and Roxanne Modafferi as well as Cody Bollinger, Chris Holdsworth, Josh Hill and Tim Gorman. Rousey picked up Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, Peggy Morgan and Jessica Rakoczy in the women’s group and Chris Beal, David Grant, Anthony Gutierrez and Michael Wootten for the men.
Some folks were happy, some less than. That Gorman cat was like “Who is Tate anyway” and he wound up being last pick on her team. So, there’s that already. I can’t wait to see how the season shakes out. I am always fascinated by the juxtaposition of amazing fighters to coaching skill. The two are definitely not correlated as we saw last season with the Jones vs. Sonnen TUF. Just because you kick ass doesn’t mean you can teach others.