’s Guide to The Ultimate Fighter

By Scott Holmes Aug 18, 2006
When The Ultimate Fighter debuted on SpikeTV in April 2005 I felt like Charlie Sheen with a royalty check. That first season was great television and the exposure helped the UFC tap into all kinds of new fans.

The UFC has certainly exploded and brought in tons of new fans, but what about us old guys?

For every hungry Diego or Forrest, there were three nobodies who didn't want to be there and we didn't want to watch them. The show started to get stale. So Spike tried to spice things up by making sure there was a fight every week, but half the time you could turn to Flava of Love and watch those hood rats put on a better scrap.

It got old and I wasn't interested in watching guys with no records race to quit the show. I felt shafted and instead of being Charlie Sheen on payday, I was more like Mel Gibson with Matisyahu tickets.

Then I heard a delicious rumor, in that first season I argued that they should fill the TUF house with proven fighters with real records. You know guys who had fallen off the radar and were dying to get back in the Octagon. Well, the gods heard my cries and now I'm happy to say that this season is poised to be the best.

I got a feeling that when beef happens within this house of former top contenders, it won't be for television drama. These guys are real, proven fighters who have real egos just poised to clash. How can you not be more excited to see fighters with over 200 fights under their belts as opposed to two?

I mean lets get real here … Matt Serra (Pictures), Shonie Carter (Pictures), Pete Spratt (Pictures), Chris Lytle (Pictures)! Watching these guys play Hungry Hippos would be thrilling and the most important of all for a writer like myself: I won't have to spend half of my writing time checking the spelling of names I've never heard.

This season there are no coaches, more like training consultants. Randy Couture (Pictures) is in the house. Georges St. Pierre (Pictures) is there. And of course who could forget … Mark Dellagrotte? (OK, there's one name I'll have to learn to spell.)

I could go through the whole cast and list who ended up on what team but let's be honest, you'd just forget it all and it really doesn't matter — everyone will fight eventually. Suffice to say that the teams were picked at random and seem to be fairly even.

These guys begin training their asses off, enough so that Shonie's old butt puked. Not a gentle Ashley Olsen post-lunch boot, more like a pledging-Lambda-Chi-hazing-out-the-nostrils-call my-mom job.

Once again these teams are really only used to train with and force drama when opponents are chosen.

They waste no time making the decision to have Shonie Carter (Pictures) fight Rich Clementi (Pictures). Rich has a long fight resume outside the Octagon but his only UFC appearance was a loss to Yves Edwards (Pictures). Shonie has been fighting for two decades and has some memorable UFC fights, most notably the night he took out Serra with his "Chicago pimp slap" back fist.

I know what your thinking, Shonie and Serra on the same show? Well whatever fireworks you thought might happen are quickly doused since they are also on the same team and as such are training partners. Serra shows immediately why he produces some of the best fighters in the country with his training and coaching style. I expect him to be this season's Tito, pushing his team to be the best.

Both Clementi and Carter make weight so the fight prep begins. Rich likes the idea of fighting Shonie because he's older and has a kind of loose nondescript style that he feels will match up well. Shonie's convinced that Rich can't throw anything at him that he ain't seen before and launches the first funny line of the season by mentioning that his second baby's mama threw a flat iron skillet at him.

It's good to laugh again.

In the first round Rich immediately rushes Shonie and you have to wonder if the new school athlete might pound out the older vet. He tackles Shonie but it doesn't take too long for Shonie to get some separation and do what he's always done: throw odd combos and strikes while wearing his trademark briefs. (Not those big pantaloon briefs like Shamrock and Severn wore … more like the kind you only need to see on a Xyience girl.)

Back on their feet Shonie tags Rich with a combo of punches that makes Rich smile — until he walks into a front kick to the chest. Shonie then tosses Rich hard on his back but leaves his arm in a bad spot. Rich looks to get the submission but Shonie listens to Serra's coaching and works his way back out. Shonie stands up and leaves Rich on his back until “Big” John stands them both up. They spend the rest of round one tied up against the fence.

Round two begins with Rich taking the offensive and he puts Shonie on his back and gets the mount. Rich transitions to an armbar but Shonie stays patient, continues to heed Serra's advice and works his way out. Once in Rich's guard they both exchange short choppy punches, with Shonie getting the occasional big punch in. Shonie keeps Rich on his back and frustrated for majority of the round until they get back on their feet and trade glancing punches.

Neither fighter was in much trouble and both looked OK, but Shonie won a unanimous decision by doing what he's always done so well: squirming out of seemingly fight-ending spots and getting in good strikes.

This episode is over but I'm ready for more. Look, if I sound like I'm blabbering on like a child fresh off a Disney ride it's because I'm overjoyed.

It's refreshing to see TUF contestants that want this. I love what Mikey Burnett said: “You can't go through a dramatic divorce and fight in the UFC; you can't go through alcoholism and be a UFC fighter."

These guys realize what they lost before and they’re dying to get it back. Don't worry dear reader, while this is a serious business at least there are some light moments.

Hopefully in this time of uncertainty what with the wars going on, the record heat waves and the fact that terrorists are using liquids to make us all scared of shakes on a plane, we can still find comfort in Shonie's words:

"I want my money, I want my riches, f__k the fame and the bitches.”

Don't we all.
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