The sun has finally set on the thirteenth season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, and though at a mere ten episodes it’s almost as if we’ve been cheated out of the very lifeblood that sustains the passion for MMA beating within our hearts, the knowledge we’ve gained is invaluable. For instance, we’ve learned that the heat generated by the friction between coaches Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos is enough to make an ice cube say “Brrrr!” We’ve learned that if you remove the in-depth examination of each contestant’s backstory and leave us with but the broadest of brushstrokes, tuning in and caring who wins is a chore. We’ve learned that still no door is safe from harm. And finally, we’ve learned who the two final TUFers are who will compete on Saturday night for that sweet Lucite emblazoned with the words “The Ultimate Fighter”. But first!
Last week Tony Ferguson was bad. He drank too much alcohol, and his alter ego – “Professor Douche” – emerged to make enemies of everyone in the TUF House. Professor Douche, you see, likes to hurl insults and barbs, and no topic is off limits – not even Charlie Rader and the child he hasn’t been able to see for whatever reason. Despite all the weeks of living in close quarters and training alongside his peers, and getting along with everyone swimmingly, Ferguson’s alter ego has managed to destroy all accumulated goodwill in one fell swoop.
Well, as all drunks must do, Ferguson sobers up, and he’s struck by the realization that now no one likes him. In the kitchen, Chuck O’Neil gives him the cold shoulder and refuses to share his Fruity Pebbles. When Ferguson strolls through the den, Chris Cope hides under a blanket and pretends he’s invisible. And when Ferguson attempts to get a ride to the TUF Center for a training session, the anonymous van driver locks the doors and speeds off without him.
“Guys, I’m sorry,” says Ferguson to the assembled housemates. “I was drunk, and when I’m drunk, Professor Douche takes over.”
Sadly, his pleas for forgiveness go unanswered, and Ferguson is left with the realization that none of these men will be sending him a card on Christmas.
Then it’s time for the first fight of the episode, which sees Ramsey Nijem take on Cope in a semifinal matchup. Dos Santos once again makes clear that he believes Nijem is the best his team has to offer, and armed with that confidence, his ward comes out swinging. Curiously, it seems that over the course of the season, Nijem learned to throw punches to go with his wrestling, while Cope learned to defend takedowns like a beast but completely forgot how to strike. Thus, we get to see the Team dos Santos rep wail on his opponent’s face when they’re trading and fail at every takedown whenever they’re tied up. In the second round, though, it dawns on Nijem that his bread and butter is his newfound fistic ability, so he just throws and throws and throws. Eventually, Cope goes down. Nijem is the winner.
Like Nijem was to his coach, so too is Ferguson to Lesnar.
“He’s the best… around,” says the ex-champ. “Nothing’s gonna ever keep him down. He’s the best… around.”
Ferguson wastes no time proving his mentor correct once his bout with O’Neil is underway. Round 1 sees them throwing a plethora of strikes while moving with calculated caution. But more and more Ferguson begins to land – with punches to the face and kicks to the leg – and as time wears on, O’Neil goes from “gutsy comeback machine with no quit in him” to “bloody mess who can’t back away fast enough”. By the third round, O’Neil is a human punching bag, and soon the referee is mercifully stepping in.
The finals are now set, and Nijem – the wrestler with a propensity for disrobing – and Ferguson – the striker who holds within the unlikeable persona Professor Douche – will meet on Saturday night to clash. Who will become the thirteenth Ultimate Fighter? Beats me. But I do know that in six months we will have forgotten just about everything to do with TUF 13.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.