A new season of the UFC’s seminal reality series “The Ultimate Fighter” is back. It’s now on Wednesday nights, changing from Thursdays on FX after being on Fridays on the same channel, and now we have the first massive shake up on the show. TUF will feature women this year in the 135 lb division … alongside their male counterparts from the same division. For some it’s the true arrival of women in the UFC. For others it’s a cheap marketing gimmick, meant to bring out the low information, mouth breathing types with the allure of sexual tension and the like.
Me, I’m watching because it’s what I do. I’m probably one of the few members of the MMA media who’ve seen every single episode of every season, including the international versions, because it’s easily digestible television. While the quality of UFC prospects coming from TUF has tailed off over the years, as they’ve gone from guys who are a couple fights away from anything meaningful into guys who are a couple of years from doing so, but a number of roster spots in nearly every division will usually have someone from a recent version of the show.
They’re cheap labor, mainly, and eventually someone turns into a fighter of relevance. It just takes more time than normal. And to top it off famed comedian Ricky Gervais is a fan of the UFC and the show. Who’d have thunk it, right?
Now we get 16 women and 16 men vying for 8 spots apiece inside the house.
We open with the big reveal: Ronda Rousey had been expecting to face off with Cat Zingano during the show and finds out she has a new opponent. Miesha Tate will be stepping in for Zingano, who tore her ACL right before the show was about to start, and Tate has been tasked with stepping in. We’ve seen this before, as the UFC and Fox have already released it, but now we get the full context and conversations Rousey had immediately thereafter.
The UFC has opted to repeat formats from Season 17; this is going to be the new way the show is constructed. I like it better than the old Spike TV version; it feels like how the show should be designed. This episode is an easy one: it’s 16 fights to get in, with the coaches and Dana White providing sporadic commentary.
Jessamyn Duke vs. Laura Howarth – Duke wins via submission
Danny Martinez vs. David Grant – Grant wins via submission
Jessica Rakoczy vs. Revelina Berto – Rakoczy wins via submission
Emil Hartsner vs. Michael Wootten – Wootten wins via decision
Peggy Morgan vs. Bethany Marshall – Morgan wins via TKO
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Valerie Letourneau – Modafferi wins via submission
Tim Gorman vs. Lee Sandmeier – Gorman wins via TKO
Raquel Pennington vs. Tonya Evinger – Pennington wins via submission
Chris Beal vs. Sirwan Kakai – Beal wins via decision
Josh Hill vs. Patrick Holohan – Hill wins decision
Colleen Schneider vs. Shayna Baszler – Baszler wins via submission
Louis Fisette vs. Chris Holdsworth – Holdsworth wins via submission
Gina Mazany vs. Julianna Pena – Pena wins via decision
Matt Munsey vs. Anthony Gutierrez – Gutierrez wins via decision
Tara LaRosa vs. Sarah Moras – Moras wins via decision
Rafael de Freitas vs. Cody Bollinger – Bollinger wins via TKO
Ronda Rousey wins the coin toss for first fight/pick and takes the first fight. Therefore Miesha Tate will get the first pick.
Team Rousey – Baszler, Duke, Morgan, Rakoczy, Beal, Grant, Gutierrez, Wootten
Team Tate – Pena, Moras, Pennington, Modaffari, Bollinger, Holdsworth, Hill, Gorman
First Fight: Julianna Pena vs. Shayna Baszler
Tags: Miesha Tate, Mixed Martial Arts, Ronda Rousey, The Ultimate Fighter Season 18