Another episode of The Ultimate Fighter is in the books, and Team Sonnen is back in the win column thanks to a surprising effort from 21-year-old Kelvin Gastelum, the youngest fighter in TUF history.
(Read the full episode play-by-play here.)
• Despite a heavy experience gap and a reach/height disadvantage against one of the best fighters in the house, Gastelum proved that he's not to be underestimated, wrestling with Robert "Bubba" McDaniel tooth-and-nail in a gritty dogfight. When Bubba was on top, Kelvin reversed. When Kelvin was on top, Bubba swept him. It was a nail-biter of a bout, with Chael Sonnen calling it the best of the season so far.
• Again: Holy crap, Kelvin Gastelum. Talk about bucking the odds.
• It's really hard to feel bad for Bubba McDaniel, and I'm not sure if that's a result of his character or the way he's been edited. Throughout the show so far, he's come off as little more than a troubled redneck bully who ultimately got a good dose of karma. Harsh? Maybe, but his attitude isn't exactly endearing.
• That said, Bubba's post-fight interview was pretty grim. If he hadn't spent nearly the whole show talking trash up to this point, it would almost be sad. Almost. With his loss in the books, here's how the teams stack. (Note: Winners are in bold, losers are scratched off the list and the next competitors' names are in italics.)
1. Clint Hester (7-3)
2. Josh Samman (9-2)
3. Robert "Bubba" McDaniel (20-6) 4. Gilbert Smith Jr. (5-1)
5. Collin Hart (4-1-1)
6. Adam Cella (4-0)
7. Dylan Andrews (16-4-1)
1. Luke Barnatt (5-0)
2. Uriah Hall (7-2)
3. Zak Cummings (15-3)
4. Tor Troeng (15-4-1)
5. Jimmy Quinlan (3-0)
6. Kevin Casey (5-2)
7. Kelvin Gastelum (5-0)
• And with that, the next match for Episode 6 will be Tor Troeng vs. Josh Samman, in a battle between two of the higher-ranked welterweights in this competition. That's intriguing in itself, but as the previews for the episode show, Samman is playing up some old injuries.
• To that note, Josh Samman might be the biggest villain of the show, especially in the way he's been painted by the editing crew. Trying to position yourself for better fights is smart, but doing it by working over your own coaches with incessant injury complaints is just ballsy.
• Before the episode started in earnest, Kelvin got a call from none other than the UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion, who said that she'll be coming down to the TUF gym to train with Team Sonnen. I'm sure some of you guys are going to love the Ronda Rousey cameo.
• Luke Barnatt got a lot of screen time, and he came off even more likable than he already appears. Aside from the intense faith that he expressed in Kelvin's ability to defeat Bubba, Barnatt was dead-on when he criticized Bubba's heavy experience advantage in relation to the rest of the cast.
• It's weird to see Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones getting along so well. For two guys who were bashing each other so harshly in the news, it's perturbing to see the coaches chatting like co-workers around the water cooler.
• That being said, it is neat to see both Sonnen and Jones acting so professionally. Sure, it's not going to draw as many viewers as Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson did with their "black-on-black crime" routine, but some hardcore fans watching this season might be in it simply for the talent level at this point.
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