’s Guide to TUF 7

By Scott Holmes Apr 3, 2008
There's been a bit of buzz about "The Ultimate Fighter" going into the seventh season.

Sixteen fighters enter the training area, all ready to become the next TUF champion. As they look around the training facility, their minds race over what's in store for them. The party doesn't last very long, though, when another 16 fighters enter the gym. Instantly the mood goes south as the 32 contestants realize that not all of them will be on the show.

Dana White and coaches Forrest Griffin (Pictures) and Quinton Jackson (Pictures) address the fighters.

"What I get tired of every season, it drives me f---ing crazy, are the pussies and poseurs who come on the show," White says. "Every season it makes me sick."

White explains that his answer this season is to have everyone fight for a place on the show. Some of the faces in the room drop. Jackson describes the mood best: "I think some of them crapped their pants. I smelt it."

And away we go. After the announcement, the fighters are given 48 hours to prepare and make weight, which, surprisingly, they all do.

The assistant coaches corner the fighters while Dana, Jackson and Griffin sit ringside to evaluate. In a brilliant turn, these three have a camera on them along with some hot microphones so that their opinions on the fights and fighters can be captured.

The fighters prepare for the challenge ahead. Brandon Sene admits that he quit his job and sold his car to go out for the show, and everything is on the line. Other fighters don't sweat it.

"They could have given me an hour," says Jeremiah Riggs of his preparedness for battle.

The whole first episode is a very refreshing change of pace -- 19 minutes in and it's already fight day. Prince McLean against Mike Dolce (Pictures) is the first fight. "Don't go home" is Rampage's sage advice as they enter the Octagon.

Dolce drops McLean right off the jump, but he walks into a big up-kick as he rushes in. Dolce stays vicious and dumps his opponent on his back. Back on the feet, he catches McLean on the button with a right hand that collapses him to the canvas at 3:39 in the first round. Dolce, a former IFL fighter, finds himself on the show.

At 21, Cale Yarbrough is the youngest competitor. He faces a much bigger opponent in John Clarke (Pictures), who has to cut 17 pounds to get down to 185.

Clarke takes a shot and puts Yarbrough on the ground. Clarke attempts a kimura, but Yarbrough scrambles out. Once the two get to their feet again, Yarbrough stays active and avoids submissions until his opponent gasses out. Yarbrough then pounds on Clarke until the fight is stopped with 58 seconds left.

Next up is Steve Byrnes (Pictures) against Amir Sadollah. Sadollah begins the match with some crisp front kicks to Byrnes' midsection. Byrnes then tosses Sadollah onto his back. Sadollah throws some tough elbows from the bottom, but Byrnes answers with the same from the top. Byrnes sticks a good armbar, but Sadollah stays patient and works his way back out. The fighters then trade some rough elbows on each other's noggins.

Rampage offers more great advice as the round ends: "Get yo face out of his nuts." Yikes.

Sadollah connects with a high kick in the second round, but Byrnes finds a way to get him back on the ground. Back on the feet again, Sadollah begins to rough up Byrnes with all sorts of punches and elbows until he submits Byrnes with 2:38 left in the second round. Forrest Griffin (Pictures) is impressed.

CB Dollaway (Pictures) quickly puts away David Baggety with strikes, impressing everyone. Nick Klein submits David Mewborn pretty quickly with an arm-triangle.

Dana compares Paul Bradley's plodding victory over Reggie Orr (Pictures) to "watching turtles f--- each other." He says it's the only bad fight out of 16.

The last fight of the episode is Jeremy May (Pictures) versus Dave Roberts. Roberts just so happens to be a high school buddy of Jackson.

May keeps his distance, however, and picks him apart with punches. Roberts turns away from the onslaught before closing the distance for a shot. Things get worse on the ground. May secures a nasty armbar that has Roberts yelling in pain and tapping at 3:44 in the first round.

The first eight have made the show. Next week the second batch of fights will round out the field of contestants who will be entering the TUF house and moving one step closer.
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