The second episode of this season of The Ultimate Fighter was a lot less action-packed than the premiere (understandably), focusing more on fighter emotions and the fighters’ integration into their massive new TUF abode in Las Vegas. Oh, and there was a pretty good fight at the end between Luke Barnatt and Gilbert Smith. Here are five things we learned from last night…
#1 Everybody doubted poor Gilbert Smith, and he knew it
When Jon Jones picked his much smaller Smith to fight the lanky-saurus rex in Barnatt, we all just assumed it would be a foregone conclusion that the Brit Barnatt would make quick work of him. That’s fine, because we’re fans and its our jobs to voice our predictions. I didn’t expect (though I confess I’m not surprised) that his teammates would so unequivocally dismiss any chance Smith had in winning his fight. I mean, have they ever watched MMA? Anything can happen in this sport, though it’s a lot harder when nobody is supporting you.
#2 That staredown was the perfect blend of awkward and funny
Indeed, when Barnatt squared up to Smith at their weigh-in, it looked like the kind of “freak-show fight” that PRIDE would put on back in the day. Smith wasn’t even bothered attempting to make eye contact and just resorted to staring straight ahead at Barnatt’s chest/stomach. If his team didn’t doubt their man before, they certainly did now.
#3 Chael Sonnen is continually impressing as a coach
Maybe because he actually is a good coach, or maybe just because in my mind Jones is lacking in that department (perhaps the editing is at fault), but Sonnen is a very good and reasonable motivator for his fighters, treating them with respect and seemingly actually believing in them. Compare this to Jones, who could barely make eye-contact with Smith as he attempted to motivate his fighter. I’ve never been a huge fan of Sonnen’s whole character, but I’m liking this Coach Sonnen I must admit.
#4 Luke Barnatt’s size advantage was almost not enough
In the Barnatt/Smith fight, it was evident from the offset that Smith’s size wouldn’t deter him from getting inside and taking it to the much larger Barnatt. In the first round, Smith controlled him against the fence, taking the lanky Brit to the ground en route to clearly winning the round. This fight really showed that if Smith was closer to Barnatt’s size then he would have handily seen out this fight with a dominant victory. However, “ifs” don’t suffice inside the Octagon, as Barnatt’s knee easily connected with Smith’s head, subsequently knocking him out. So near, yet so far.
#5 The preview of episode 3 kind of ruins the outcome of the Uriah Hall vs. Adam Cella fight
While it doesn’t tell us who won, it clearly let us know there would be a vicious, earth-shatteringly awesome knockout of one of these fighters, and judging by both men’s previous performances, my money would be on Hall being this cyborg ninja of death that we heard about in the build-up to this season. Hall has the look of a man that sees only fresh meat across the Octagon from him, and I fully expect him to be the one to take out Cella and become the man nobody wants fight this season. In saying that, Cella will probably now win via Sweet Chin Music just to mess with my predictions.
The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen episode three air next Tuesday at 9pm on FX, as well as 2am Wednesday morning on ESPN UK for those in the UK and Ireland.