If you watched any NFL action on Fox this Sunday, you probably heard that the first fight of this season of The Ultimate Fighter, Team Tate's Julianna Pena vs. Team Rousey's Shayna Baszler, will totally have a shocking conclusion. Well, it actually does.
With the battle between both teams' top choices looming overhead, all the bantamweight contestants are scrambling to carve out their place in the house, and working to build the friendships and rapports that will help them survive, and hopefully advance, over the next six weeks.
The new dynamics of a coed season of TUF come up early and often, as does the rightly "been there, done that" attitude Shayna Baszler in comparison. All the while, coaches Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey start the feuding that this season will likely be built around.
(Read the full episode play-by-play here.)
- Julianna Pena was initially nervous when it came to facing Shayna Baszler. However, once Baszler begins taunting, a fire is lit under her that makes her obviously less uncomfortable over fighting "The Queen of Spades."
- Pena quickly establishes herself as an angry brawler who can throw for days. Baszler, though, quickly asserts herself as a wrestler, and does great work bending and contorting Pena in ways that allow her to maintain top position for a length of time, allowing the savvy vet to likely take Round 1 with a 10-9 score.
- My breakdown of the TUF18 ladies proved very accurate, where I say on Pena, "The greatest thing she has shown in her game thus far is her grappling, which she expertly uses to maintain top position over wounded opponents. Her striking is highly unrefined, but what she lacks in technique, she compensates for with a pure desire to hurt her opponent."
- In the second round, Pena catches Baszler with some of her wild punches. While Baszler clinches her, Pena reverses position, lands some big knees and takes advantage of a sloppy takedown attempt to take top position. From there, she does a great job staying away from every attempt by Baszler to shake her off, eventually taking her back and sinking in a rear-naked choke.
- There is no way to view this as anything but a massive shock. Baszler was widely and properly regarded as the favorite to win the show. Pena's victory gives a massive boost to Team Tate, possibly indicates a passing of the torch in women's MMA.
|Team Rousey||Team Tate|
|Jessamyn Duke||Sarah Moras|
|Peggy Morgan||Raquel Pennington|
|Jessica Rakoczy||Roxanne Modafferi|
|Chris Beal||Cody Bollinger|
|David Grant||Chris Holdsworth|
|Anthony Gutierrez||Josh Hill|
|Michael Wootten||Tim Gorman|
'The Ultimate Fighter 18' episode two
(Note: Winners are in bold, losers are scratched off the list and the next competitors' names are in italics.)
- Shayna Baszler quickly shows herself to be very, very confident to the point of arrogance when she claims that her opponent, Julianna Pena, wouldn't have an opportunity to fight her outside the house because of the differences in experience and skill. This isn't unfounded on her part. With a 15-8 record, Baszler has more experience on the show than anyone outside Roxanne Modafferi.
- Rousey quickly shows herself to be very emotionally invested in her team's success, as she weeps over Baszler's loss. Baszler, naturally, is emotional as well, and wonders aloud if she will ever have a chance to fight in the UFC after fighting in small shows for over ten years.
- On a lighter note, TUF18 naysayers already have their quota of interactions worth complaining about, as the season basically kicks off with a hot tub party. Though the entire sequence was awkward and almost standoffish, later on Team Rousey's Anthony Gutierrez discusses his efforts in sexually pursuing several of his castmates.
- Team Tate's Tim Gorman stakes an early claim for being this season's Junie Browning with some moderately chauvinistic boasting. He won't get the chance to live down to his potential, though, as he gets sent home early for a torn hamstring sustained in his fight with Lee Sandmeier. He is replaced by Louis Fisette, who lost his fight to get into the house to now-teammate Chris Holdsworth. His recent callout of Bryan Caraway suddenly makes (a little) sense.
- Miesha Tate actually did pull together a solid coaching team. Her crew includes pre-Duane Ludwig Team Alpha Male striking coach Thonglor Armatsena, cornerman to the stars Ricky Lundell and middle-of-the-pack bantamweight (and boyfriend to Tate) Brian Caraway, among others. Rousey brought a good portion of her camp, most notably her personal coach Edmond Tarverdyan and WEC veteran Manny Gamburyan.
- The next matchup is between Team Tate's Chris Holdsworth and Team Rousey's Chris Beal. It's a tough spot for Beal, who was openly flaunting a broken hand earlier in the episode, and rightly speculates that Tate may try and take advantage of his weakness. This angers Rousey, who labels the move as some "p***y-a** s**t."