Mixed martial arts fans and reality show fanatics had to sweat it out over the summer, but the toughest reality show on television is finally back. The first episode of The Ultimate Fighter Season 2 has finally premiered.
Much as you would expect, the first episode was heavy on introducing the personalities of the new fighters. This season, the show kicked off with 18 new fighters; 9 heavyweights and 9 welterweights.
The Heavyweight Competitors:
Rob MacDonald, Keith Jardine, Kerry Schall, Brad Imes, Seth Petruzelli, Mike Whitehead, Tom Murphy, Rashad Evans, and Eli Joslin.
The Welterweight Competitors:
Jorge Gurgel, Joe Stevenson, Kenny Stevens, Anthony Torres, Melvin Guillard, Josh Burkman, Marcus Davis, Sammy Morgan, and Luke Cummo.
This episode really broke out into four major segments and the outgoing wrap-up.
Jorge Gurgel tried to set the tone for himself on the show by declaring, “Nobody pisses on my bed,” but it was Luke Cummo that was the subject of the first real character building on the show. He’s kind of singled himself as the odd duck out on the show, kicking things off by removing his mattress from his bed to sleep on the floor. He did this so that he could have his head pointing north while he sleeps to better align his chi.
Obviously, he is quickly becoming the focus of much ridicule by the other fighters. But on the first hard day of training, Luke’s focus on his keeping his body in line both physically and spiritually when he had no trouble making it through a grueling wall sitting drill. Season 2 coach Rich Franklin went so far as to declare that Luke is “this season’s Diego.”
The first drama of the show involved heavyweight competitor Kerry Schall. On day two of filming, the fighters were brought to the UFC National Training Center for a marathon training session involving cardio, weightlifting, jiujitsu, boxing, and kickboxing. Basically, the fighters were worked beyond exhaustion, just to push them to the brink and see how mentally and physically tough they are.
Having nearly made it through the workouts of the day, Kerry was held up with severe pain in his knee. Medical personnel looked him over and decided he needed to go and get x-rayed. The x-rays showed no breaks or fractures, but the doctor thought it prudent that Kerry see an orthopedic specialist the next morning.
Once the drama started, it just kept rolling. On the evening of that first really hard day of training, heavyweight competitor Eli Joslin called UFC President Dana White, coach Matt Hughes, and coach Rich Franklin into a private meeting to declare that he couldn’t handle being on the show. His excuse was that the cameras were freaking him out, declaring that, “it is too much like jail.”
Dana, Matt and Rich attempted to convince him to sleep on it and come back the next day for more training, but Eli had his mind made up even before talking with them. Later that night, Eli gathered round the other fighters and told them, “I’m walking out. I’ve made my decision.” With that, he left the house and the show.
The next morning, the fighters were gathered at the training center with Dana. He made the announcement that Kerry’s results were back and that he had a torn meniscus that would require surgery. Just like that, Kerry Schall was forced to exit the show. He was obviously fighting back the tears, but left with his head high commenting that, “For it to end this way is just devastating… God has a plan. I’ll get by.”
With the exodus of two heavyweights already, Dana white declared that a welterweight would now have to go. The determination was that Kenny Stevens was the weakest welterweight and he was allowed to choose one of the others to fight for a spot on the show. He chose Sammy Morgan.
This final drama really kicked in when the weight cutting began. Kenny weighed at 191 pounds, meaning that he had 24 hours to lose 21 pounds. Sammy Morgan on the other hand, had only 9 pounds to cut to make the 170-pound limit.
The next portion of the show featured Kenny trying to cut the weight in the sauna, much like the same scenario that Bobby Southworth went through in the first season. The first night of cutting saw Kenny get down to 181 pounds before heading off to bed. The following day, they were back at the sauna and got Kenny to within five pounds of his goal before he finally cracked and said, “I’m done.”
Kenny Stevens became the third fighter to leave the show in the first episode and it didn’t sit well with some of the others on the show. Jorge Gurgel commented, “You’re a professional athlete. You never quit, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the pain.” Even the usually subdued Rich Franklin was visibly irritated, “It pisses me off!”
This brought us to the show ending speech from Dana White. If you saw the first season of the show, consider this the “Do You Wanna Be a F**king Fighter” Part II speech. Remarking on Kenny Stevens, he said, “He f**king quit. Thacker, the one that got picked on the most, had more heart than you guys.” I can’t really go on with the rest of his tirade, I’ll wear out the “F” key on my keyboard, but suffice it to say that Dana basically questioned the commitment of the guys on the show and challenged them to give it their best efforts to become UFC caliber fighters.
Coming Up On Week 2:
With the exodus of Kerry Schall due to injury, a new heavyweight fighter joins the house. Also, the first challenge and the first fight are set to take place.