Inside Fights Review: The Ultimate Fighter 7, Episode 3

Hallelujah! Now that we’ve got our official cast, we can finally have the classic TUF entrance video (“Matt…Amir…CB…Brandon”) and TUF entrance song (“You’re gonna be a man…this is the ultimate”). Ah, now the series is starting to feel like a warm pair of slippers.

We get various shots of the guys entering the house for the first time, and we hear from Mike Dolce: “We’re not just reality TV guys anymore. We’re real fighters.” No offense, Mike, but I think the jury’s still out on that one.

Matt Brown says that everyone’s earned a little respect from each other for winning to get into the house, while Brandon Sene‘s heard about some of the fighters in the house and expects it to be a hell of a season.

–Meanwhile, back at the training center, Dana gathers the boys for a little pep talk, telling them all how impressed he was with their fights and how he feels that THIS will be the best season ever of The Ultimate Fighter. He tells the fighters that he’s excited to see which fighter ends up with which coach, adding, “I know what kind of fighters these two guys are, but what I don’t know is what kind of coaches they are.”

Dana offers up a coin toss for the first pick, and Rampage wins. Dana offers him the choice of pick either the first fighter or the first fight, and Rampage takes the fighter. He picks CB Dolloway, who steamrolled his way through his preliminary fight. Forrest picks ‘Crazy’ Tim Credeur, he of the black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and Rampage picks Matt Riddle, he of the near-crippling knockout. Forrest picks Amir Sadollah, and Rampage picks Paul Bradley.

The rest of the picks shake out like this: Rampage gets Dan Cramer, Gerald Harris, Mike Dolce, Jeremy May, and Brandon Sene; Forrest, on the other hand, gets Jesse Taylor, Mark Brown, Cale Yarborough, Dante Rivera, Nick Klein, and lonely Luke Zachrich with the last pick.

Jesse’s excited to get a chance to fight with Forrest’s team, because he thinks Forrest’s style matches up a little better with him than Rampage’s.

–Team Rampage, though, spends their first team meeting wondering just what the hell that thing growing on Paul Bradley‘s neck is. Everyone seems a little skittish–and rightfully so–but Bradley insists that it’s just a cold sore or something.

Still, Rampage remains skeptical: “I’ve heard of cold sores coming when people get stressed out and stuff like that. I mean, we’ve all had cold sores and canker sores, but not too many people had it on their necks. That made it kinda weird.”

Dolce and May don’t want to roll with someone who could give them all sorts of fun skin conditions, and who can blame them?

–Team Rampage shows up for their first training session, and Rampage himself says that since he’s never coached fighters before, this experience on TUF is going to help him decide whether he wants to train fighters or not at some point in his career. Uh, Rampage…you might have considered that BEFORE signing the contract for the show.

We cut to Rampage, showing a mount escape: “Think about it like you’re in prison, and he’s tryin’ to get your booty. You don’t want that.”

Still, Rampage is excited about his assistants, Juanito Ibarra and Zach Light, and thinks that they have a lot to offer his fighters.

–Dana’s a little nervous about whatever that is on Bradley’s neck, so he brings in Jason Michaels, a fairly well-regarded Vegas dermatologist, to figure out what exactly the problem is with the kid’s skin. He doesn’t have shingles–rather, it’s herpes simplex–and yes, it’s potentially contagious.

Dana, sympathetic as ever, offers his thoughts: “Stress basically brings it out. Well, guess what? He’s going to be pretty f—ing stressed living in a house with 16 guys who could potentially kick his ass. He’s probably going to be a walking herpie the whole time.”

Rampage has a solution in mind, however: let Bradley stay and just run until they can figure out what to do with him. This leads to this little exchange:

Rampage: Do you like running?

Bradley: Yeah, I–

Rampage: (Interrupting.) Good, ‘cause even if you said no, I would have said ‘too bad.’

So we cut to a shot of poor Bradley doing a solitary workout on the treadmill while the rest of his team trains, and then to a shot of him practicing striking by his lonesome with Juanito. Rampage Jackson, M.D. describes Bradley’s condition as ‘having cooties’ to his other fighters. Of course, getting your cooties shot is a hell of a lot easier than curing herpes simplex.

Forrest doesn’t plan on coaching and doesn’t want to be a coach–another great call here on the coaches, Dana–but the one coaching-related concept that he’s wrapped his head around is how to run a training camp. We meet Forrest’s coaches: Cameron Diffley, Mark Beecher, and Gray Maynard, who you may recognize from TUF 5.

Forrest imparts a few pearls of wisdom on his new charges: “Just know inside that you won’t quit on yourself. Shakespeare said, ‘To thine own self be true,’ and I know what he f—ing meant by that. You’re going to get frustrated and hate each other, but the juice is worth the squeeze, let me tell you.” Forrest quoting Hamlet? I couldn’t make this stuff up.

–Meanwhile, in Team Rampage‘s training session, Dana has some bad news for Paul: he’s gotta go. Apparently, his little herpes rash could be crazy contagious. Paul tries to argue his case, but we all know what Dana’s like when he’s made up his mind about something. Dana feels lousy for having to cut him loose, and Paul breaks down in tears talking about what he had to sacrifice to be on the show, but unfortunately, he’s gone.

We cut to a great angle of Bradley somberly getting his things together at the gym one last time while Rampage and some of the other fighters laugh and joke just a few feet away. Dolce can empathize with Bradley losing a dream that’s in his grasp, but Riddle and May are relieved that they don’t have to worry about catching anything.

–It’s Forrest’s turn to pick the first fight, and he doesn’t waste any time in setting up Jesse Taylor against Mike Dolce. Dolce thinks that Forrest has made a huge mistake and calls Taylor a sacrificial lamb, while Taylor thinks that taking out a guy as tough as Dolce will totally demoralize Rampage’s team.

–We meet Jesse Taylor, who looks like the unholy offspring of Nicolas Cage and Big John McCarthy. Jesse trains with Team Quest South in Temecula, and blew off the three classes he has left before getting his degree in order to come on the show. Forrest calls him a ‘pure, unadulterated meathead’ and compares him half-jokingly to Matt Hamill.

–We meet Mike Dolce, who worked as a tax assessor in New Jersey for nearly a decade (and given the loving relationship between New Jersey and taxes, he must have made a shitload of money) before chucking it all to move to Oregon and become a professional athlete. Rampage professes his admration for the guy: “He may only be a little bit taller than the Hobbit, but he’s still tough.” Dolce wants to put his hand through the back of Jesse’s skull, but at least he offers to cook him dinner afterwards, so he’s not really a mean guy, right?.

–Since Bradley had to leave, Rampage is short one fighter, so Dana offers to bring one of the eliminated fighters back to round out his team; unfortunately, a lot of the guys who lost the prelim fights were injured in the process, so Rampage finds his options limited at best. He chooses to bring back Patrick Schultz (submitted by Luke Zachrich in his prelim), which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in Rampage’s fighters or Dana, for that matter, but everyone agrees to give it a shot.

–By the way, kids–be sure to vote, because Rampage, Forrest, Roger Huerta, and Dana White said so.

–Rampage drops by the house to have dinner with his guys and get to know them a little better. Between the taxi-driver Kangol hat and the Mass-hole accent, Schultz feels like Mark Delagrotte’s illegitimate son. Rampage busts on his fighters, and they bust on him, so everyone seems to enjoy each other’s company and the fighters all come away with a very positive impression of their coach.

–Dolce talks about being in the unique position of fighting twice in less than a week and feels super-confident about his chances. Jesse’s happy to keep the fight on its feet, but he’s comfortable on the ground with Dolce if that’s where it goes.

Jesse Taylor vs. Mike Dolce: Dolce smacks Jesse with a big right hook, leading Jesse to shoot in and Dolce to sprawl. Holding Jesse down while sprawled out, Dolce punches him with some hooks to the head, but Jesse spins out, takes Dolce’s back, and then drags him to the mat. He gets both hooks in quickly and immediately goes for the rear naked choke, but Dolce gets his chin down. Dolce tries to roll free, but Jesse keeps the rear waistlock, rolls with him again, gets his hooks in again, and goes right back to the rear naked choke.

Dolce keeps his chin down, and spins around to top position in Jesse’s guard. Finally on the offensive, Dolce drops hammer fists and elbows through Jesse’s guard; Jesse sits up for a second, and just as I think that he’s going to for a sweet sweep, he grabs a half-assed guillotine. Dolce pulls his head out and moves into side control, but Jesse scrambles, gets a double-leg takedown from his knee, and then takes Dolce’s back AGAIN.

He tries for the rear naked choke, but–surprise surprise–can’t get it; Dolce rolls over onto his back, so Jesse climbs into his half-guard and tries to hammer-fist Dolce to death, but he manages to hang out until the end of the round.

Round 2: Dolce comes out and clocks Jesse with a big punch again, and Jesse shoots in right away and puts Dolce on his back, then mounts him. Jesse pops Dolce with punches from the mount as he tries to shrimp, get loose, anything…but Jesse shows great mount control, keeps shifting his weight, and keeps Dolce where he wants him.

Dolce gives up his back yet again, and Jesse takes it and gets his hooks in yet again, but this time–finally, mercifully–he locks in the rear naked choke. Dolce tries like hell to fight it and doesn’t tap, but Herb Dean stops the fight as Dolce starts losing consciousness.

–Post-fight, Forrest talks about Jesse’s apparent lack of concern about pacing himself, and Jesse mentions that he puked in his corner right after the fight, but “hopefully, you guys won’t show that,” so of course, they do. Jesse wins $5,000 as the season’s first winner and another $5,000 for finishing Dolce early, putting him almost level with Marcus Aurelio in terms of fight purses.

Rampage is very disappointed in the result of the fight, and Dolce expresses his frustration, taking a veiled shot at Rampage and his staff by claiming that he’d been overtrained in the short time that he’d been in the house. Still, Dolce reminds us, there are six weeks left, and anything can happen, so he’s going to stay in shape just in case.

–We get the quick collection of shots from the next episode, as Dante and Matt Riddle have DRAMA: “If you beat me, I’ll retire.”

Most Valuable Fighter for episode 3? Jesse Taylor. Nice to see that it only took him 6 rear naked choke attempts to finally sink one in. All kidding aside, though, Taylor showed good grappling and control in what turned out to be a pretty fast-paced match.

Most Valuable Coach? Rampage. Screw the fighters–Rampage was the star of this particular episode, coming off as kind of a goofy big brother here rather than big-timing it. It’s not that Forrest came off poorly—he simply wasn’t onscreen that much—but rather that Rampage came off so well.

See you all next week!

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