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The Ultimate Fighter 14 Recap: Episode 9 – ‘A Kind Soul Among Brutes’

On this week’s episode of “The Ultimate Anything But Fighting”, we’re promised conflict, as the Reverend Dustin Pague is slated to take on TJ Dillabean in a bantamweight semifinal pairing. But before the clash in the cage, we get stuff. Like, uh, non-fighting stuff.

In case you’ve forgotten, the Reverend Pague is a man of God who, despite the brutality of his profession, still finds time to spread a message of love and kindness to the world. Case in point: the homeless man the young TUFers pass by every day on the drive to the gym. Whereas some – like Green-Haired Gaudinot and Roland – prefer to hurl rocks and glass bottles at the street denizen’s head, Pague has only compassion. To prove it, on one such trip he halts the TUF van to hand said homeless man a Ziploc bag full of food.

What a nice guy.

Fast-forward to the Reverend in training, and coach “Sometimes Jason, But Usually” Mayhem Miller admits he may be the underdog. “We know how good he is,” says Mayhem. Hey, the guy depletes the TUF House larder to give food to homeless dudes. Good? He’s practically saintly.

But the Reverend Pague knows how to party, too, which is proven when Mayhem drops in on the TUF House to partake in some barbecue action. As we all know, being sequestered in the TUF House is akin to an extended stay at Arkham Asylum, and insanity inevitably develops – which, for Pague, means forgoing the Lord’s prohibition against eating bugs (it’s in the Bible, I swear). After much “oooh” and “aaah” fanfare, the bantamweight is soon chowing down on a cockroach and a beetle for 60 dollars. A measly 60 bucks. That, my friends, is the epitome of both “insanity” and “party”.

It’s time for that wonderful, magical time of the TUF season, where the opposing coachs square off in a contest that invariably involves a lot of money as a prize but an endeavor that has zero relevance to anything the coaches may have done in their lives. Remember back when Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock had to go bass fishing? Remember when Matt Serra and Matt Hughes were forced to play hours of Dungeons & Dragons? Well, this time around the challenge is air hockey, with the table set up atop the Palms Casino.

Cue dramatic Quentin Tarantino-esque camerawork, which lends the showdown an air of tension it wouldn’t normally have (and doesn’t have when the scene unfolds at normal film speed). Somehow, someway, coach Michael Bisping is familiar with air hockey, and he takes the lead in the best-three-out-of-five series, kicking the American’s butt simply because he sucks at the game only slightly less. One game goes to Bisping, then another. When all seems lost for Mayhem, he surges forward with the classic air hockey strategy known as “letting your opponent score repeatedly on himself”. However, the stratagem is eventually thwarted, and Bisping wins his third game and all the dough.

Curiously, to celebrate his victory, Bisping climbs onto the air hockey table hooting and hollering, then unceremoniously falls off the table and onto his butt. Okay.

It’s time for TJ Dillabean’s training session, and assistant coach Tiki-Tiki Head narrates, extolling his ward’s virtues as one of the best wrestlers on Team Bisping. Hmm, do you think wrestling will be a factor in the upcoming fight?

And then the Reverend Pague and TJ Dillabean are fighting. Round 1 is about 87% TJ Dillabean on top pounding on the Reverend with authority, and 13% the Reverend trying for submissions and landing a knee square to his opponent’s jaw, which establishes to the viewer that if there were no grappling in MMA, Pague would totally be winning this fight. Unfortunately, while he did manage to nail Dillabean pretty hard in the first, no such heavenly joy comes to the Reverend in the second round; once Dillabean gets him down he’s stuck there, absorbing punishment like a sponge that, er, absorbs spilled punishment. Round 3 is just as ugly, with Pague bloodied, beaten and coughing up cockroach and beetle parts. To his credit, Pague didn’t give up. But alas, that isn’t enough to win fights, and Dillabean takes the unanimous decision.

“Dustin Pague has a bright future,” says Mayhem to the camera postfight.

He sure does. Whether he wins or loses in the cage, the dude is clearly going to Heaven.

The end.

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